We all experience a variety of stressful situations throughout our life. School, work, family, kids and health issues are a small list that most people encounter consistently. Sometimes these stressors can ignite an overwhelming desire to strive forward and succeed while other times they create feelings of anxiety and depression. A big component of success in life and in physical therapy treatment is to find ways to minimize stressors and promote healthy activity. The purpose of this article is to provide you with tools that can be used every day to take control of your stress and progress forward.
Diaphragmatic Breathing
One tool that we teach our patients is Diaphragmatic Breathing, which calms the body and improves breath mechanics. It is easiest to perform lying down with one hand resting on your stomach and the other on your chest. As you breathe in, feel the hand on your stomach rise. As you breathe out, feel your stomach return down. You should not feel movement in the hand on your chest. Using this breathing technique after or during a stressful event can aide in decreasing anxiety or stress.

Create a Check List
Another tool is to create a check list. Use this list to organize your tasks and check off each task as you complete it. This check off system provides a feeling of accomplishment and validates your actions at the end of the day. When creating your check list, be sure to set priorities. Do the more challenging items of your day first while your mind is clear and save the tedious items for later in the day.
Schedule "You" Time
Continuing with the check list theme, be sure to schedule "you" time. Set aside time to do what you like. Whether it is having a cup of tea or coffee with a friend, reading a book, or going to a movie, it is important for you to prioritize yourself and your happiness. Use this time to clear your mind and re-energize to better tackle your stress. If you are waiting for someone to say it's ok to take time for yourself, here it is. You can't take care of anything or anyone if you don't take care of yourself!
Consistent Exercise Routine
Finally, I am a strong believer in a consistent exercise routine. Exercise has been proven to reduce stress and improve overall health. I advise people to schedule a walk on their breaks or visit the gym before going home. A few exercises that I find helpful and also key in improving the sedentary posture of those tied to a desk are squats or lunges, Thera-band exercises (rows, triceps extension, and lat pull down), planks, and foam roller stretching.

If you are unsure if an exercise is optimal for you, please ask your friendly CTS therapist!
I hope you find these tips helpful. If you feel you need guidance on stress reduction techniques please speak with your doctor.
By Mandy Johnston, PTA

A few months ago, I was talking to another PT in the staff office. She had asked for my ideas about how to work with patients with organ prolapse. One of the things I told her was a phrase that I use with all my patients: "It's not what you have, it's what you do with what you have that matters." As I was saying this, Cindy (the CEO of CTS) walked by and said, "That's awesome! You should write a newsletter article about that!" So, here it is!
What I mean by the phrase "It's not what you have, it's what you do with what you have that matters," is that body function is more important than body structure. The relative importance of function and structure is an age-old debate among and between different groups of health care providers, with physical therapists generally falling on the "function is more important" side. One example of this is back pain and diagnostic imaging (such as MRIs). When someone has back pain, it seems logical that something must be wrong with the structure of their back - they have some arthritis, or one of their discs is bulging, or one of their nerve roots is being pinched by the vertebrae. However, when people with back pain undergo imaging, the results are not consistent. Some people with pain do have structural problems, but some people with pain do not have structural problems. And even more interesting, some people without pain do have structural problems.
So what makes the difference? Well, pain science is complex, but in my experience, the difference is in how people function, or in other words, the way in which they use whatever structure they have. It's not the what that is most important, but the how. Returning to the prolapse example, body structure is important, because the ligaments and fascia that support the pelvic organs are there for a reason, but lack of structural integrity is only one factor that contributes to prolapse. The other factors are poor diaphragm/abdominopelvic coordination, poor posture, and poor abdominopelvic strength - all of which are "function" factors. What I have found is that in women with structural support problems, when we correct all of the functional factors, their prolapse symptoms resolve.
Functional factors can be corrected because of neuroplasticity, which is brain's ability to change (that was the subject of my last newsletter article!) The way we function and move is a result of what PTs call "motor control," or the patterns in which our brains activate our nerves, which activate our muscles. When you learn a new motor control pattern, for example, learning a new sports skill, you spend a lot of conscious effort on executing the movements in the correct order and with the correct timing. But with repeated practice, the skill becomes more and more automatic and requires less conscious effort. Unfortunately, injury or other imbalances in the body can cause faulty automatic motor control patterns that can contribute to pain and other symptoms of movement dysfunction. Physical therapists are specialists in identifying faulty automatic motor control patterns in the body. Under a PT's guidance, patients learn how to bring the faulty patterns into conscious awareness, then use conscious effort to learn correct motor control patterns, then use repeated practice to cause the new motor control patterns to become more and more automatic.
So remember, how your body functions is changeable, and is more important than what your body structure is.
In addition, over time, the body's structure can change (i.e. improve) in response to the functional demands placed upon it. (I might write a Part II about that!) For now, just remember that "what you do with what you have" is the most important factor in the health of the movement system, and the body is truly amazing in its ability to overcome pain and dysfunction.
By Katherine Dahl, PT, MPT, CD(DONA)

In This Issue
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Community Education
plays a meaningful role to the members of our CTS family. We strive to do our part to provide top notch education and information. 
Here's how:

Cindy Furey - Teaches at St. Augustine and San Diego State University

Crystal Hazelton - Blogs on pelvic floor with post-partum issues

Mandy Johnston - Teaches core activation at Mesa College PTA program; Presents using Pilates for rehab at San Diego District Chapter Meeting for the APTA

Elizabeth Leeds - Teaches pregnancy/post-partum topics at the YMCA

Maureen Mason-Cover - Clinical trial on Diastasis Recti intervention

Kira Shurtz and Elizabeth Leeds - Treated cast of Broadway's Tony award-winning musical Cabaret

Kristin Evans - Attended Pilates on Tour in Orange County alongside leading Pilates professionals

April Douglas - Teaches at Mesa College

Comprehensive Therapy Services focuses on great traditions to heal, educate and empower patients, family and friends. Take advantage of our programs to help you meet your wellness goals.


Take advantage of our Pilates classes and private instruction, Massage and Acupuncture - what a combination to help you meet your health and fitness goals! Check out our class calendar - CLICK HEREĀ»


CTS also offers Mindful Meditation with Jim Cahill. During these sessions, Jim will work with you to enhance your physical and emotional well being while teaching you techniques you can use for self practice. For more information, CLICK HEREĀ» 

As always, the therapists and staff at CTS strive to offer you the best Physical Therapy in town. We promise to provide the most up to date treatment techniques. Let us empower you to make NOW your time to shine!

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