5 Benefits of Foam Rolling

benefits of foam rolling - new heights physical therapy in portland OR and vancouver WA

Have you incorporated foam rolling into your regular exercise routine? You probably should!

Here are our 5 favorite reasons you should use a foam roller:

  1. Improve Range of Motion – decrease muscle tightness and improve flexibility.
  2. Reduce Soreness – foam rolling after your workout can help reduce the muscle soreness you typically experience 24-48 hours later.
  3. Avoid Injuries – by alleviating tightness and overuse of muscles, you’re a less likely candidate for related sports injuries like IT Band syndrome.
  4. Break up Scar Tissue – putting targeted pressure on your fascia helps break up adhesions between the skin, muscles and bones.
  5. Increase Circulation – increasing blood flow to the muscle helps elevate the heat in the tissue, which can help reduce tension!

Physical Therapy for Lower Back Pain and Sciatica

Physical Therapy for Lower Back Pain & Sciatica. New Heights Physical Therapy in Vancouver WA and Portland OR

The chronic pain caused by sciatica and lower back problems can cause long periods of inactivity, which only serve to worsen the symptoms over time. Continual back pain and symptoms of Sciatica can be debilitating, but luckily, there are chronic back pain and sciatica treatment options to help improve the pain.

Almost every activity involves some use or movement of muscles in the back. Merely getting out of bed can cause a flare-up of chronic pain. Continuous, unrelenting bouts of pain make getting around difficult and working nearly impossible. It is one of the more debilitating problems large numbers of people deal with daily. No matter what the cause, when your back hurts, it negatively affects every area of your life.

Physical therapy treatment is available to help get the pain under control and reduce the symptoms felt. Continuous treatment increases mobility, resulting in a much better quality of life. Treatment can include

  • Stretching and light aerobic exercise
  • Heat and cold packs for pain reduction
  • Spinal flexibility increasing routines
  • Modified activities planning, and more

Not only will these treatment options lessen your back pain, they will work to prevent pain from reoccurring. To further recovery from sciatica and lower back pain, physical therapy can teach you about improved lifestyle habits so that you will no longer be held back by your condition.

Contact the PT specialists at New Heights Therapy to find out more about lower back pain and sciatica treatment today! Be sure and sign up for one of our upcoming workshops available in both Portland OR and Vancouver WA. The workshops are completely free and offer helpful information on how to live a life free of chronic pain.

Physical Therapy for Women’s Health

Physical Therapy for Women's Health. New Heights Physical Therapy in Vancouver WA and Portland OR.

Physical Therapy for Women’s Health

Physical Therapy for Women’s health is specialized treatment for a number of women specific health problems. An evaluation is done to first establish what type of treatment will be best for you. Treatment plans can vary in length depending on the type of treatment needed and the extent and nature of your problem. It is important that this treatment is followed through with suggested exercises at home to prevent further pain from occurring. Common physical therapy for women’s health include;

  • Pelvic floor dysfunction including incontinence or prolapse
  • Gynecology surgery
  • Pregnancy related issues
  • Pain related issues including painful intercourse, painful menstruation, amongst others
  • Postnatal exercises
  • Osteoporosis

These are all prevalent problems that women face daily. Often times, if these problems are left untreated, they can lead to other, more serious issues. Seeing a specialist for help can ease pains and/or complications providing for a more comfortable day-to-day life.

Nutrition and Healing

Although it is important to have a well-balanced diet day-to-day, if you are seeking physical therapy for surgery related treatment, nutrition is vital to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Eating well-balanced and properly proportioned meals will keep your body at its best. Well-balanced meals will help your body get the sufficient vitamins is needs during the healing process.

A well-balanced diet includes staying hydrated. Drinking plenty of water can help your body heal in a more timely manner. Staying away from water can cause your body to work harder and in turn, you will feel the exhaustion. Physical therapy will cause your body to dehydrate faster due to the work you are doing. It is very beneficial to drink water before, during, and after a visit to the physical therapist.

Sports Medicine for Bicycle-Related Injuries

Sports Medicine for bike related injury. New Heights Physical Therapy in Vancouver WA and Portland OR.

What is Sports Medicine for Bicycle-Related Injuries?

Sports medicine for bicycle-related injuries is a specialized field that cyclists can seek in order to restore full movement and function of injuries. In this field, the doctor or physical therapist requires special training in order to give the patient the fastest possible treatment to get them moving again. Bicycle-related injuries require specific treatment plans to ensure the patient can be cycling again in no time.

Bicycling requires strenuous use of leg bones and muscles. Common injuries include numb hands and toes, knee pain, lower back pain, and other aches and pains after riding. It’s important for cyclists to prevent pain and injuries from occurring in order to prevent more serious injuries. Prevention of injuries is just as important as treating injuries.

Bike Fit

An incredibly beneficial type of sports medicine for bicycle-related injuries is bike fit. Bike fit is a process that takes many factors into consideration. The following factors are taken into consideration:

  • Personal goals
  • Background and History
  • Musculoskeletal function
  • Assessment of current equipment

These are all aspects that need to be individually assessed for each patient. It’s vital to treat each patient with a specialized plan to meet their needs. Bike fit is a program that can be applied to all cyclists from casual, to professional athletes. As your body grows stronger, the bike fit program may be altered in order to account for strengthening of certain muscles. Ensuring the proper fit can enhance your performance and prevent serious injuries from occurring.

We have specially trained physical therapists in sports medicine for bicycle-related injuries. The links below give more detail for the services we provide:

Bike Fitting

Bike Injury Treatment

Cupping Therapy

Cupping Therapy. New Heights Physical Therapy in Vancouver WA and Portland OR.

Cupping Therapy

Relatively new to Western medicine, cupping therapy has been used throughout history in other cultures and is particularly popular in China. Cupping involves the use of cups which are suctioned to the skin to promote blood flow. In Chinese medicine it is believed to help the flow of qi (life force) through the body.

There are different types of cupping therapies; wet and dry. Dry cupping only involves using cups with heat to create suction. Wet cupping on the other hand uses the same method as dry cupping but takes it a step further. The dry cupping method is performed for 3-5 minutes and after the removal of the cups, small cuts are made on the raised area to release any bad fluids. A second cup is then placed on the same raised area to suck up the blood. After this is done, bandages are applied.

The method used depends on your medical condition as well as what is preferred by your practitioner.

Benefits to Cupping Therapy

The use of cupping is backed up mostly by the history of its use. It’s not a extremely common practice but has been known to have health benefits. Dry cupping can be used with other forms of treatment such as massage and acupuncture for additional relief. Wet cupping cannot be combined with other methods of treatment. Cupping therapy can help with the following:

  • Pain reduction
  • Promoting relaxation
  • Skin Health
  • Treatment of respiratory issues and the common cold
  • Digestion improvement

Cupping therapy has been shown to treat specific conditions as well as the more broad terms listed above.

Cupping Therapy Criticisms

Throughout Hollywood, stars and particularly professional athletes are getting a lot of flack for using cupping therapy. Some experts think it’s a waste of money and that there are better treatment options available. Others believe that there is little to no significant evidence that shows cupping therapy to be a proven way of treatment. There are professionals who see cupping as a placebo, in the sense that if you believe it works then you’ll feel better. Even with this criticism, it is still incredibly popular among people.

If you’re interested in trying cupping therapy, it’s best to talk to a professional to see if it would be a good method of treatment for you.

The Psychological Components of Pain

The Psychological Components of Pain. New Heights Physical Therapy in Vancouver WA and Portland OR.

The Psychological Components of Pain

Many people suffer from chronic pain, which is much different than your body responding to injuries. Chronic pain is any pain that lasts 3 or more months; sometimes, this pain can last for years. It’s important to understand that there are psychological aspects to this kind of pain.

Psychological Pain Management

When suffering from chronic pain, both a psychological and physical treatment should be sought. Chronic pain can cause many negative feelings such as anger, sadness, and anxiety. A psychologist will help talk you through the pain and will ask about; where you feel the pain, how often, factors that may be causing it, and what you feel when you’re in pain.

Stress is a big factor when it comes to pain management. It can cause muscle tension, in turn creating more pain. A psychologist can help manage this by giving you different exercises. This can include breathing exercises, meditation, and other relaxation techniques.

Physical Pain Management

In addition to seeking mental help for pain, physical therapy is necessary to truly achieve comfort. Chronic pain must be handled differently between patients because some can be incredibly sensitive to touch. In cases such as these it’s important for the patient to develop a trusting relationship with their physical therapist. This will help the patient believe and understand that physical therapy will help.

No two patients require the same treatment. If a patient is sensitive to touch, a gentle approach is important to determine their level of sensitivity. This gentle approach is additional support in developing trust. Once trust is developed and gentle touch has been achieved, this is when other methods of physical therapy will be brought in. Over time a patient may need more methods added to improve treatment.

Ways to Manage Pain

Professional help for pain is the best course of treatment but there are things that can be done to keep your body and mind healthy.

  • Be active
  • Don’t push yourself too hard
  • Stay social

There are other ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle but these three are incredibly important. Staying active will work your muscles and keep your body in healthy physical shape. When you do activities, know your limits, pushing too hard can cause more pain. Maintaining social connections with friends and family has been proven to decrease depression and anxiety. When these practices are implemented in everyday life, along with seeing mental and physical health experts, you can manage your pain and live a much more comfortable life.

The Opioid Epidemic

The Opioid Epidemic. New Heights Physical Therapy in Vancouver WA and Portland OR.

The Opioid Epidemic

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than 90 Americans die everyday from overdosing on opioids. There is a crisis in America right now where the addiction of opioids is on the rise. This shows that accessing drugs is easier than accessing help. The overdose of opioids – synthetic opioids, prescription painkillers, heroin – currently has a higher death toll than guns, car accidents, and HIV/AIDS.

History of the Opioid Epidemic

Starting in the 1990s, pharmaceutical companies began to see opportunities where they could push the use of prescription opioids without being honest about the safety and effectiveness of these drugs. With companies pushing to make more money, many doctors and patients fell for the scheme and did not believe the risks would outweigh the benefits. Doctors began to prescribe opioids for all kinds of pain management due to other drugs being less effective.

Currently, America is the leading prescriber in the world of opioid painkillers. Painkillers are a quick and convenient way for doctors to help pain management. Patients who experience acute pain are often prescribed opioids for far longer than they need because doctors do not want to receive complaints from prescribing too little.

The CDC wants patients to avoid prescription painkillers by seeking other treatment options. The best option for pain management is physical therapy. This will help the root of the pain and has far better results than drugs. There are other methods of treatment if physical therapy is not easily accessible. These can include alternative medicine and non-opioid painkillers such as ibuprofen.

Harder Opioid Drugs

Due to the excess prescription drugs, people aside from patients began getting their hands on them. This led  to heroin and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl. Heroin and synthetic opioids are much stronger than prescription opioids. The reasons people began doing these harder drugs varied. Some people lost access to pain pills, while others wanted to seek a stronger high.

Not all people who have a heroin or synthetic opioid addiction started on painkillers. Some may have started on heroin and began the use of pain pills after. Heroin has become much more easily accessible over the years due to prescription opioids becoming less common. This has given more people to the opportunity to try heroin.

With the rise of heroin and synthetic opioids, and the attempt to crackdown on prescription pain pills, the bigger picture needs to be looked at on how to fix this problem. Currently being addressed is the supply of opioids and how to reduce it, but if the supply is taken away, the nation will be full of people who still have an addiction. People who have an opioid problem need help. They need easier access to programs where their mental and physical health can be addressed.

It’s important to understand that someone with an opioid addiction cannot quit cold turkey. This is an addiction that needs a slow treatment to  avoid painful withdrawals. If someone is cut-off from prescription opioids, they will seek other ways to get high; this is where heroin and fentanyl come in. This crisis needs to be a combination of dwindling supply and easier access to treatment.

For further reading on the current opioid epidemic:

CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain — United States, 2016

National Institute on Drug Abuse – Opioid Overdose Crisis

Direct Access to Physical Therapy

Direct Access to Physical Therapy Vs Referral by New Heights Physical Therapy in Portland OR and Vancouver WA

Direct Access to Physical Therapy

Many patients have the understanding that they have to go to their doctor to receive a referral to see a physical therapist. What they don’t know is that based on research, direct access to physical therapy can save a lot of money. Direct access to physical therapy means a patient is seen by a physical therapist without first seeing their doctor.

Cost of Referral vs. Direct Access

Referral programs can be incredibly expensive and cost ineffective for patients. A study was performed and published in the Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy. This study took two groups of patients experiencing neck pain and/or back pain, one of which had direct access to physical therapy, while the other had physical therapy through medical referral. The patients who had direct access to physical therapy saved an average of $1,543 in costs on their bills than those who received a referral.

Is the Quality of Treatment the Same?

Absolutely. All physical therapists are licensed or certified by the state in which they practice. In the study discussed above, the patients who had direct access treatment had less therapy sessions and total care. The results of treatment were shown to be similar to that of referred physical treatment.

The link to the study is provided for further reading:


Physical Therapy is an Effective Treatment for Urinary Incontinence

Urinary Incontinence Physical Therapy

Physical Therapy is an Effective Treatment for Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence (UI) is a common problem; it affects over 50% of women and almost 14% of men. Managing UI is inconvenient, difficult, and it also has a big impact on quality of life. Individuals with UI report depression, anxiety, poor health, social isolation, decreased physical activity, problems with sexual relationships, difficulty with getting jobs and decreased productivity at work. Although UI can be a stand alone disorder, it is often associated with a number of other medical and musculoskeletal conditions including pregnancy, pelvic pain and spine pain.

In many cases, individuals with UI do not seek intervention for the condition despite the significant impact on health and quality of life. In a study done last year, researchers looked at data from 599 men and women who answered “yes” to the following question on a physical therapy medical history intake form: “During the last three months, have you leaked urine (even a small amount)?” They found that of those reporting UI, only 44% were seeking care for UI; 52% were seeking care for spinal pain, pelvic pain or arm/leg disorders.

Risk Factors For Urinary Incontinence

There are several risk factors for UI include aging, smoking, obesity and consuming carbonated drinks. For women, there are the additional risk factors of pregnancy, delivery, episiotomy, maternal age (older than 30), more than three deliveries and in postmenopausal women weakness of pelvic floor muscles. For men, additional risk factors include pelvic floor muscle changes following prostate surgery.

Types of Urinary Incontinence

There are three types of UI: stress incontinence (SUI), urge incontinence (UUI) and mixed incontinence (MUI). SUI, the most common type, is involuntary leakage on effort or exertion such as when sneezing or coughing. This occurs because abdominal pressure with exertion overpowers the pelvic floor muscles. UUI is involuntary leakage with a feeling of urgency that occurs either just before or at the same time as the leakage. This is believed to be related to abnormal bladder contraction associated with external cues such as hearing the sound of running water. MUI is involuntary leakage with qualities of both SUI and UUI .

There are several options for treatment of UI, including bulking agents, medication, radiofrequency, surgery and pelvic floor muscle retraining (PFMT). PFMT is generally recommended as the first option for treatment of UI. It is low cost, non-invasive and effective, especially in the short term. Short term rates of cure/improvement have been reported to be as high as 97%. Long term benefits (> one year) have been more difficult to determine; they appear to be dependent on if the patient continues with their program of lifestyle changes and exercise.
PFMT should only be provided by physical therapists who have undergone specialized training. At New Heights Physical Therapy Plus, Marie Long, MSPT, COMT and Julie Burtis DPT, CMTPT begin with screening and evaluation. This includes a detailed history of UI, assessment of type and severity of UI and an internal exam if indicated. Treatment for PFMT is focused on education regarding anatomy and physiology, lifestyle and dietary changes and customized pelvic floor muscle exercise, but may also include biofeedback, electrical stimulation, manual techniques and trigger point therapy.

Physical Therapy For Treating And Preventing Pain In The Lower Back

Lower Back Strech

80% Of The Population Suffers From Lower Back Pain

The prevalence of lower back pain in adults is shocking with 80 percent of the population destined to suffer from it at some stage of their lives. Ranging anywhere from a constant ache to a sharp, debilitating sensation, pain in the lower back can strike without warning and be caused by an accident or simply by attempting to lift a heavy object. The good news for sufferers is that physiotherapy is recognized as an effective treatment for the condition.

What Causes Lower Back Pain

Muscle strain is by far the most common cause of a person suffering pain in the lower portion of the back. It can be caused by an awkward movement, lifting or bending. Even simply standing in place for too long without changing position can cause someone to experience pain in the back.

  • Disc disease or injury: Herniated discs and bulging discs can apply pressure to the sensitive nerves in the spinal area and cause pain. A common cause of disc degeneration is aging, but it can also be caused by wear and tear. For example, someone operating heavy equipment, such as bulldozers and grading machinery, is subjected to jarring and jostling along with the vibration of the equipment, and this can cause damage to the spine.
  • Diseases of the spine: Spondylolisthesis, spinal stenosis and scoliosis are conditions that can affect the structure of the spine and cause low back pain.
  • Fractures and injuries: Fractures of the spine caused by falls, motor vehicle accidents and other forms of trauma can cause severe and debilitating pain following the injury and during the healing process.

Low back pain can be difficult to diagnose because the cause of the pain could be due to the way a person’s back is positioned while sitting or standing. It could also be due to a lack of stability of the back due to muscle weakness in the abdomen and lower back.

Treatment Options

Just as there are different causes of pain in the lower back, the physical therapy treatment plan must be designed to fit the needs of each person, including the symptoms exhibited and the individual’s physical condition. Among the treatment options available for lower back pain are the following:

  • Strengthening and flexibility exercises
  • Spinal manipulation
  • Ice and heat treatments
  • Electrical stimulation

An essential part of a plan for the treatment of low back pain is instruction and training. Teaching someone the proper techniques for sitting, lifting and bending can prevent additional damage. Although it might seem to be something that comes naturally, people with low back pain might need to learn new sleeping positions to avoid causing further injury.

Don’t Just Mask Lower Back Pain!

Drugs can mask lower back pain, but they are not a solution to the cause of the pain. New Heights Physical Therapy Plus provides low back pain sufferers with solutions to the underlying problem causing their pain, discomfort and disability. Their goal is to help patients strengthen core muscles to provide stability in the spine and lower back and relieve pain. At the same time, they are teaching them the techniques to prevent future problems.