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BIRTHFIT in NJ

BIRTHFIT

BIRTHFIT Isn’t Just For Pregnant Women

 

My Personal Recovery Journey
By Dr. Meagan McGowan

Core Therapies recently had the pleasure of hosting the BIRTHFIT Professionals Seminar, individuals from across the country gathered to hold space together. Chiropractic doctors and students, Midwives and Doulas, Physical Therapists and PT Assistants, Pelvic Floor Physical Therapists, Yoga Instructors, and Functional Medicine practitioners were among the professionals represented. We share a common love of supporting women throughout their motherhood journey. Despite the resources and care available today, there are still many shortcomings in support, education, community and beliefs. BIRTHFIT recognizes all stages of motherhood, creating integral values stated as the Four Pillars: fitness, nutrition, connection and mindset. Encompassing all of these values, BIRTHFIT seeks to create a standard of care that far surpasses the current state, especially when it comes to postpartum care.

How I Discovered BIRTHFIT

 

I was first introduced to BIRTHFIT through a podcast featuring its founder Dr.BirthFit NJ Lindsey Mathews. I related immediately to the passion I heard in her voice and dove a little deeper into BIRTHFIT’s message. Coincidentally, one of my patients had someone she wanted me to meet…someone who was equally passionate about working with women. This woman happened to be the BIRTHFIT Regional Director for NJ and co-owner of Crossfit SOAR. We met, we talked, we laughed, we shared our frustrations surrounding the state of readiness specific to motherhood. I signed up for my first BIRTHFIT Professionals seminar immediately. I thought this would be a great addition to my practice at Core, but it was so much more than that!

My Journey With BIRTHFIT

My husband and I have had two welcomed pregnancies, both boys birthed with the support of Midwives. I felt prepared, heard and supported beginning pre-conception through delivery. My postpartum care consisted of a pelvic exam at 6 weeks postpartum and was told everything looked good. I was happy and went on my way. Admittedly, my second pregnancy was a bit different and slightly more difficult than my first. I felt pressure and heaviness much earlier on, and Matt was kinesio taping my belly for extra support. By 8 weeks, I experienced pressure equivalent to eating a Thanksgiving dinner every night. What I did not know then – and was not discovered until 10 months after my second birth – is that I had Diastasis Recti which was palpated and measured during the BIRTHFIT Professionals seminar. Diastasis Recti is a separation of the abdominal fascia. This happens to every pregnant woman at some point during her pregnancy. Some women are left with minimal separation postpartum, others – like myself – have a much larger gap. When this happens the core muscles are not equipped to counter the abdominal pressures created with movement. This is a sign of core and pelvic instability. Most women have no idea when this occurs during their pregnancy, but I distinctly remember the moment I bent down to put a piece of paper in our shredder and felt a surface level burning discomfort go up the middle of my belly. That was with my first pregnancy. Recalling that occurrence, then the peaking or tenting I saw in my belly after delivery with our first son, and then the exceptional pressure I felt while pregnant the second time, it became apparent that I went into my second pregnancy severely separated and with an unstable core and pelvis. I had no idea.

My “Why”

BirthFit NJ

The BIRTHFIT Professionals seminar was the first time in almost 10 years I felt like all of my worlds were coming together. My love for treating and holding space for pregnant woman, learning movements that aren’t modified for the pregnant woman but rather adapted to their changing body, the importance of mindset and strength of connection…all while learning how to help myself recover. It was as inspiring as it was emotional. I knew I could become part of this community that was striving to better care and awareness, but at the same time I was suffering with the current standard of postpartum care. The planks and pushups I was doing to better myself were actually reinforcing and exacerbating my diastasis. I had no idea I should have been working on foundational movements to create stability in my core before taking on load and gross movements. Note: Every baby is born with a diastasis and the movements we observe them doing while on their backs, rolling over, and crawling are all innately done to help them close their diastasis. BIRTHFIT teaches a functional progression of movements adapted from the workings of DNS (Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization), all created by studying the movement patterns of babies and children.

Today

BirthFit NJI am very pleased to report that through my own recovery journey I have reestablished a stable core and have closed my diastasis to one measurable finger width. Although there is always more room to strengthen and stabilize ,I am well within normal limits. I have used my education and my own recovery to relate to women and their stories. I willingly field (and ask) questions about sensitive topics such as pain, discomfort, incontinence, painful sex, urgency, etc. because although these feelings may be typical, they are not normal. Having a practitioner who knows how to support a woman through the full motherhood journey is so empowering for her because the support doesn’t stop 6 weeks postpartum, nor should it. BIRTHFIT supports functionality within your body and your life, connection within your own tribe and in your community, and a healthy mindset open to support especially when underlying causes of depression are present. At first I thought…“BIRTHFIT, great! I’m going to get back into shape.” Today it holds such a presence in my life because BIRTHFIT is much more than just strengthening movements. It is a mission, a community of likeminded individuals striving to reshape the thoughts and conversation surrounding childbirth.

“The pregnant should not be thought of as weak or diseased, it is a time of power! Postpartum is a time to recalibrate the system mentally and physically.” – E.B.

NeuroKinetic Therapy NJ

My Journey to Becoming an NKT Practitioner

My Journey to Becoming an NKT Practitioner
by Dr. Shannon Connolly
June 2019

During the past 8 months, I have been learning a specific technique called NKT or NeuroKinetic Therapy. I had seen it demonstrated briefly back in chiropractic school and was somewhat skeptical, but an introductory course this past fall has made me a believer! As a practitioner, I think it is important to evaluate new techniques or modalities critically, but to also keep an open mind, as we never have all the answers. The only thing a closed mind will do is limit us to possibilities or modalities that may benefit our practice and our patients. I’m thrilled to be adding NKT to the treatment options available to Core Therapies patients.

What is NeuroKinetic Therapy?

NeuroKinetic Therapy was developed by David Weinstock, an expert Bodyworker who has been practicing Bodywork for over 35 years. He developed NKT while attempting to solve the age old question that many of us as patients (and wellness professionals) may eventually end up asking ourselves at some point: “Why do I come in with pain, go through a treatment session, leave pain-free or with significant improvement, and then return the next week with the same symptoms (often times over and over again)?” In a nutshell, NKT is a technique that primarily looks at compensation/dysfunctional movement patterns from a motor control perspective. The Motor Control Center (MCC) of the brain is located in the cerebellum. This part of the brain stores our movement patterns. The motor control center stores these patterns and directs their completion through the spinal cord and the muscles. Our brains learn movement from the day we are born. Most of these primary patterns are learned within our first year of life. Here’s an example of the MCC in action. Picture a baby learning to stand. Each time the baby tries to stand and falls (i.e. “fails”) the motor control center learns the successful aspects of the attempt. When that program contains enough “correct” information, the baby is finally able to stand. As we go through life, we collect events or experiences leading to the creation or learning of a faulty movement pattern. Think about all those sprains, broken bones, cuts that scar, a car accident or even repetitive habits and activities (i.e. sitting a work!). You probably don’t even know you have developed these patterns. Most of us don’t become conscious of these accumulating issues until there is pain involved. Movement occurs when multiple muscles work together. But what happens when one or more muscles do not have solid connections to your brain? Compensation! Dysfunction! This usually presents itself as pain and tightness. What if you thought your lower back muscles were tight, but actually they were “weak”? You might want to stretch and release them for short-term relief, but I’ll bet the pain or tightness keeps coming back! NKT utilizes manual muscle testing to identify and address compensation patterns in which muscles may test weak (or inhibited) and as a result of that “weakness,” other muscles are forced to work harder and become overactive (or facilitated). These muscle tests are not really testing “strength.” They are testing the ability to react as a neurologic response. It is testing how well you connect to your brain. Think about using your cell phone in a remote area where you get poor reception. Obviously, the solution isn’t to throw away your phone! You would just move to another area for better reception. NKT is testing the “reception” aspect of your nervous system. The manual muscle testing in NKT can be looked at as the key to “retrain” the MCC in order to elicit lasting change in movement patterns. The MCC is open to learning most effectively by failure. This happens when we discover a muscle test that results as “weak.” This “weak” muscle may or may not be where your pain is located. It may not hurt at all. NKT practitioners live by these words: “Don’t chase pain!” The result of the NKT protocol is to “turn off” the muscle that is overworking by a stretch or soft tissue release and to “turn on” the muscle that is underworking through an exercise. If we have discovered the right relationship, you should immediately notice a difference in a reduction of pain, less tightness, more range of motion, etc. However, part of this process does require some extra “homework.” With any new movement, it needs to be repeated in order to become fully ingrained.

NeuroKinetic Therapy has been a game changer for me as a practitioner. I have found tremendous success with this new technique in a very short period of time. However, there is still much to learn and practice with this protocol. It takes time to master the intuitive skill of muscle palpation and manual muscle testing. Finally, it should be stated that NKT does not solve everything. It does have its limits. At the same time, NKT can be extremely useful in solving many lingering issues that may keep you returning time and time again. Come see me and find out what NKT can do for you!

Single Leg Stability Exercises

Single Leg Stability by Dr. Matt McGowan D.C.

Single Leg Stability
by Dr. Matt McGowan D.C.
January 2019

When I look at patients’ current workout plans, a very common theme is a lack of “unilateral training” especially with regards to the lower body. What I mean by unilateral training is specific work done to one side of the body at a time to address any imbalances you may have side to side. Often patients’ programs will contain a wide variety of squats, deadlifts, lunges, etc. – all wonderful movements on their own. But think about the fact that every time we walk or run we are doing hundreds of thousands of single leg balances. Where is this reflected in our training? And it’s not just my patients. I have seen many accomplished athletes who can barely pass single leg balance tests. Unsurprisingly, patients who ignore unilateral training frequently present with lower back pain or hip problems. How do I test in office to see if you have an imbalance? Two very good screening tests can be done quickly at home to see if you have some issues with single leg balance: 

1. In bare feet, stand facing a mirror; raise one leg up to 90 degrees at the hip so that the top of the thigh is parallel to the ground. When doing so first observe the overall ease of movement. Is it hard to do? Are you wobbling or shaking? Next look at your ankle, does it cave inward? Does it want to roll outward? See how long you can hold in that position with minimal ankle wobbles. If you can hold for 30 seconds and remain pretty still, that would be a passing grade. Then repeat on the other side.

2. The second test is a Step-Out Lunge. Again, do this in front of a mirror and perform three step-out lunges out and back per side. In this test again notice the ease of both the movement stepping out as well as the ease at returning back to a standing position. Next look at the knees, as you lower into the lunge. Does the knee stay in line with the second toe? If it moves medially or inwards then that is a big issue. Lastly look again at the ankle, does it collapse inward? Does it roll outward? If you struggle with any of these tests then you are doing yourself a disservice by not including specific programming for these weaknesses. There are hundreds of corrective exercises out there to work on these issues. Some of the more common ones are:

Single Leg Box Step-Ups

Walking or Step Out Lunges

Single Leg Hinges or Deadlfts

Balance Beam Work

Skater or Heiden Lunges

(A quick youtube search will find hundreds of videos if you are unfamiliar with these.)
If you think you might fall into this situation, feel free to come in and be evaluated. We
can certainly get you on the right path to optimal function.