Cupping - More than just polka dots!

Cupping - More than just polka dots!

(though we do love polka dots)

 The circular marks often left by cupping

The circular marks often left by cupping

Cupping is an ancient form of alternative medicine that originated in China. It has been around for thousands of years, but has moved into the spotlight after the 2016 Olympics when Michael Phelps was seen sporting the classic purple circles that cupping therapy can leave. What are those marks though and what does cupping do besides leave them? Cupping is a type of instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization that uses glass, silicone, or plastic cups to exert a negative pressure (like a vacuum suction) on the skin and underlying tissues. Typical massage techniques are compressive (think hands pushing into your muscles) whereas cupping is actually decompressive. The suction exerted by the cup lifts layers of tissue and brings blood to the surface of your body which can help improve blood flow, provide a stretch to your fascia, and improve mobility. The purple mark left by cupping therapy is not a bruise and is not painful, it is evidence of the blood that has been pulled to the surface, which has theoretically removed potential blockages from your system and prepped your body to start healing. Cupping therapy in conjunction with strengthening and stretching can help improve your recovery and maximize your flexibility. Ask about cupping at your next physical therapy visit, or schedule a Wellness visit with Christina to check it out!  Contact us at 617-618-9290 or office@girlfitrocks.com to schedule an appointment.

 Cups in place on the skin

Cups in place on the skin

Cupping now offered at Girl Fit PT!





PeriAcetabular Osteotomy = Persevere And Overcome

Hello Girl Fit community!

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My name is Nicole and I really like dancing!  If you were to ask anyone who knows me to tell you one thing about me they would tell you that I just really like dancing.  I started dancing at the age of 2 and haven’t stopped since. (I am almost 26 now!) I danced competitively in high school, I danced in college, and now I have my own dance company that I run with a close dancing friend.  To put it shortly, dance is my life. So the moment I was in too much pain to keep dancing, my life was turned upside down. I lost a part of my identity. But this is a happy story, I promise! So bear with me here. I want to explain to you all why you should never ever give up.  

 

It was May 2016 when my hip pain started.  I woke up one morning after an intense workout and I couldn’t lift my left leg.  I didn’t have health insurance in the Boston area because I was only 23 and still on my Dad’s health plan and he only had coverage in Buffalo.  So after a few weeks of pain, I decided I to fly to Buffalo and get my hip checked out. I had a consult with a hip doctor there and a MRI before coming back to Boston.  After a few weeks, the doctor from Buffalo called to tell me that the MRI was normal but I had some strange blood work, so he couldn’t do anything for me until I saw a rheumatologist… Now I couldn’t afford to keep flying back and forth to Buffalo so I had to find a new job in Boston. I needed  my own health insurance. It took a few months but I finally got a new job and once the health insurance kicked in I started seeing doctors in the Boston area. I saw 10 different specialists (in both rheumatology and orthopedics) before finally being referred to a physical therapist who actually believed me and the amount of pain I was in.  The problem was that I was a dancer, and “normal” people do not put their bodies through the extreme ranges of motion that dancers do. So every doctor I saw was convinced that nothing was wrong because I could touch my toes. After going to physical therapy for a few months, (Girl Fit didn’t even exist at this point in time yet!) my physical therapist suggested I visit the Dance Medicine section at Boston Children’s Hospital.  It was there that I met Dr. Stracciolini. She knew what dancers do and she believed me. She could see how much I had gone through and she knew that dancers never fully expresses how much pain they are in. She ordered a new MRI to be done.

 

The new MRI showed a ganglion cyst and possible labral tear. But the worst part was, the radiologist compared the new MRI to the CD of the old one from Buffalo, and the findings were “consistent”... meaning that the radiologist in Buffalo mis-read the MRI!! I wasn’t crazy.  There was something wrong with my hip.

 

 It was around this time that my new health insurance decided that I should be better and that they weren’t going to cover any more PT visits.  So, Dr. Stracciolini suggested this new little PT practice that opened up in Newton that had reasonable self-pay options. And that was when I came to Girl Fit and met Kate :).  I was going through various rounds of diagnostic cortisone injections and Kate and the Girl Fit crew helped me continue to get stronger. Things were finally looking up, but unfortunately the pain was not getting any better.  

 

So it was around June 2017 that Dr. Stracciolini ordered a new set of x-rays and a new MRI with contrast.  They found that I had hip dysplasia and a labral detachment tear.  These diagnoses were what my insurance needed in order to cover more physical therapy visits.  Then, Dr. Stracciolini referred me to Dr. Yen (the hip scope surgeon at Boston Children’s) and I continued doing PT with Kate.  

 

I called Dr. Yen’s coordinator and the first appointment that he had available wasn’t until the end of August!!! I was bummed.  That summer my dance company was putting on our first ever full length production and I wanted nothing more than to dance in it.  And I was starting graduate school in the fall… I was really hoping that all my hip troubles would be gone by the time school started, but if I couldn’t even get a consult with the surgeon until the end of August, I wasn’t going to be able to have surgery until school’s winter break… my troubles were not over.  But little did I know they were going to get much much worse before they got better. (still a happy story, I promise!)

 

On August 1st, 2017 I was rushed to the ER from work for what we found out to be a kidney stone.  It turned out that I was going to need surgery to get the stone removed. I was not expecting that one… So we waited a week to see if the stone would pass on its own (it didn’t) and I went into surgery.  When I came out, the doctor did not have the good news that I was hoping for. They weren’t able to get the stone because my ureter was too small for their surgical equipment. They had to put a stent in to stretch out my ureter and they were going to have to leave it in for two weeks  before going back for ANOTHER surgery!! My consult with Dr. Yen AND my dance company’s show were that week! I was going to be in surgery two days before putting on my first ever professional production. I was terrified.

The day before the second kidney surgery, I met with Dr. Yen.  When he walked in the room, I knew something was not right. He looked at me and said “I can’t do the scope on you, you’re going to need a PAO.”  I immediately started crying. A PAO was not a small surgery. The scope surgery would have been a 6 week recovery with some PT and I knew I would have bounced back in no time.  But the PAO (Periacetabular Osteotomy) had a much much longer recovery time...  But I wanted nothing more than to dance again, so I agreed to meet with the next surgeon.  

 

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I met with Dr. Matheney on the morning of Friday August 25th, 2017.  It was opening night of our show and I had to be at a tech rehearsal in a few hours.  But Dr. Matheney was amazing. He explained the procedure to me and reassured me that the end was in sight.  They were going to cut my pelvis in three places so that the acetabulum (the socket of the hip joint) could be rotated around the femoral head (the ball).  My hip had basically been coming out of the socket by 1 cm for the past year. That was why I was in so much pain! And that was why it hurt to dance!

 

 

We scheduled the surgery for my winter break and I continued seeing Kate at Girl fit to try to keep my hip as strong as possible before going into surgery.  But I was happy because I got to go see Kate and the rest of the girl fit team at least once a week. :)

 

In order to get the PAO done and recover enough to be able to go to class on crutches in January, I had to push up my December finals by 2 weeks.  (Anyone who knows anything about architecture master programs knows that this is NOT an easy feat.) I spent my entire thanksgiving break doing homework at my desk in my apartment all alone.  My super awesome friend Lisa did came over with a few study snacks and study breaks, but for the most part all I did was homework. Then the day finally came and it was time for me to get a new hip! I was terrified but incredibly excited at the same time.

 

After my surgery, I spent two weeks in bed before flying to Buffalo to spend a very emotional holiday with my family.  My father was diagnosed with an aggressive brain cancer (the same week I found out I needed the PAO) and we weren’t sure if this holiday would be the last.  (update as of June 2018: no new tumor growth in my Dad’s brain!)

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One month following the surgery, I was back at Girl Fit and this time we were actually building strength instead of just maintaining.  I was SO ready to get back to the dance floor. I also started to see Kelsey Griffith through The Micheli Center. She helped me A LOT with all the mental challenges that came with the PAO.  She even visited me while I was still recovering in the hospital!

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PT was not easy.  There were days where I would end up crying on the floor in my room at home, but I was making more progress over the course of 1 week than I previously had over the course of 1 year.  I was doing my exercises everyday while trying to keep up with all my graduate school coursework. I was exhausted. But everytime I came into Girl Fit, I couldn't help but smile. Everyone in there was always happy to see me.  They always asked about school and they always made me laugh.  Anytime Kate was out of the office, Christina would treat me and she always made me feel so confident with her positive comments on my progress.  Once my range of motion restrictions were lifted, I started taking mindful movement classes with Jen and I always felt so grounded, centered, and strong.  I cried after my first mindful movement class with her because I surprised myself so much with how strong I had become.  They were tears of joy and relief. It finally felt like my body was my own again and that I had control over it.

 

 

My hip journey has taught me a lot about life.  First, it taught me to never doubt myself. I am the owner of my body, and I know it best.  Never let someone tell you what you are or are not feeling. You know yourself the best. Second, it taught me that the people who you surround yourself with are incredibly important.  I built myself a team of incredible, strong-willed, and inspiring women who believed in me from day 1. I can honestly say that I would not be where I am today if it were not for the wonderful support team that I have: my dance partner and best friend Lisa, Kelsey from the Michali center, the Girl Fit team, and most importantly Kate. They are all incredibly knowledgeable at what they do and most importantly, they are always positive and smiling.  Finally, I learned that no matter what you are going through, you should never ever give up.  You are ALWAYS strong enough to follow your dreams.  

 

It has been a long two years, but I am finally dancing again!  I have Persevered And Overcome many obstacles on my way to healthier hips.And I owe a lot of that to Girl Fit. I am so happy and incredibly proud to be a girl fit girl.  

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Thanks to Nicole for contributing to our blog!! We are super proud of her! 

The Girl Who Decided to GO FOR IT!

I want to share with you a story that embodies what I always hoped Girl Fit would be.  Meet Hannah… the girl who decided to go for it!  Hannah saw our Girl Fit (@girlfitrocks) Instagram post on January 22…

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Feeling a little nudge of inspiration, Hannah went to her mom that day and told her that she had decided to try out for a rowing team.  She wanted to go for it.  The next week, Hannah came to Girl Fit for a Wellness Visit and gait evaluation.  We checked her strength, flexibility, balance, body mechanics, and gait and Hannah told us all of the fitness requirements on which she would be tested for her tryout.  Instead of trying to crank out sit ups and push ups each night and risking getting injured while prepping for her tryout, we developed a well rounded and safe strength and flexibility program for Hannah.  She came to work out at the Girl Fit Studio 3 days a week and performed her home exercise program another 3 days a week for 6 weeks to prepare for the tryouts.  She went in feeling confident and prepared… and she crushed her tryout!  Hannah was the YOUNGEST GIRL to make the rowing team and she is LOVING her new sport.  

 

The Girl Who Decided to GO FOR IT

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We’re so proud of her and feel really lucky that we got to help her follow her dreams. 

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Feminism in Action at Girl Fit

A blog post by Girl Fit PT's co-op student Madeleine

Madeleine is a 5th year student in the Doctorate of Physical Therapy program at Northeastern University. She grew up as a competitive synchronized swimmer on the North Shore of Boston. She joined the Girl Fit team in January 2018 as a 6-month co-operative education student. If you called the office or came into the clinic recently, you have probably seen her smiling face!

I like to joke that my feminist awakening started when I was 9 and watched “Legally Blonde” for the first time. As a 9-year-old, I was under the impression that you could either be a girly-girl or a tom-boy. Girly-girls were pretty, popular, and conformed to societal expectations of women. Tom-boys were sporty, smart and had the monopoly on empowerment. Legally Blonde taught me that you could be both pretty and smart. At an elementary school age, this was revolutionary to my world view. Ever since my Elle-Woods-feminist-awakening, I have been on a life long journey to understand how I define feminism, and how best to use my power as a woman to help other women.

An important stop on that journey was a class I took for my minor in “Global social entrepreneurship”. I traveled to India for a 6-week study abroad program that focused on women’s empowerment and development in rural and suburban India. I learned an immense amount about social entrepreneurship, Indian culture, and the best way to empower women.

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We visited many different organizations running different programs to address the needs of the women in their community. We visited a taxi service for women that also taught women how to drive. We visited a school that used theater to help women process and speak about the injustices they had experienced in the world, such as sexual assault, a rampant issue in rural, northeastern India. We worked with a company that taught women how to sew and then provided them with tailor jobs. The lesson I took from the successful organizations we interacted with, was that women don’t need to be “empowered”. What women need is to be given knowledge and skills that they do not already have.

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Research agrees. Most research in the development space is focused on resources and women’s access to those resources. Deepa Narayan of the World Bank, writes, “we see resources, however, not as a feature of empowerment per se but as… catalysts for empowerment, as enabling factors that can foster an empowerment process.”1 Empowerment, or increasing access to resources, has a positive effect on economic development, according to the American Economic Association.2 Empowerment is not necessarily telling girls they can be anything, but rather giving them better access to resources they need to succeed.

Though underprivileged women in rural Ragistan, India may seem very different than the adolescent female athletes we see at Girl Fit Physical Therapy, I believe what I learned applies to the empowerment happening every day in the clinic. In middle and high school sports, girls are not given proper education on injury prevention. They are told they need to train more to be better: “everything needs to be strong!”. Research has shown that due to many barriers, children and adolescents are not given proper injury prevention education.3 Without this information, girls are at very high risk of injury from training too hard and putting stresses on their body which are unnatural.

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I have seen first-hand what the Girl Fit model has done for some of our patients and clients. A girl comes in with an injury from her sport and is weak in certain muscle groups, despite training 6 days a week. She has poor body mechanics, as well as low body awareness, which may have led to her current injury and also puts her at higher risk for a second injury. When she graduates from physical therapy, she has a tool box full of exercises that she can do to work the areas she needs to keep strong, knowledge of how strengthening and stretching keeps her from putting herself at risk for another injury, and understanding when her body is telling her to slow down or stop.

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Each week, the Girl Fit team meets to talk about research in physical therapy so we can use the best exercises, best techniques, and give the best evidence-based practice to our patients. While I do not think the physical therapists even realize it, they are empowering their patients and clients based on research in development. I am proud to have been part of the Girl Fit team and to have helped improve the lives of many strong girls and women by giving them the skills and knowledge they need to take care of their bodies.

Citations:

  1. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=BzXyApyTGOYC&oi=fnd&pg=PA71&dq=women%27s+empowerment+and+development&ots=HPQ_ghOUy4&sig=t0EXPkdyc6-gPXpU_zUdmMDMRXs#v=onepage&q=women's%20empowerment%20and%20development&f=false

  2. https://www.aeaweb.org/articles?id=10.1257/jel.50.4.1051

  3. http://injuryprevention.bmj.com/content/5/1/36.short

A guest post by our PT student, Gia!

The road to Girl Fit PT

Over the last 10 weeks, I have been fortunate enough to complete my third and final clinical education experience as part of my doctorate of physical therapy coursework here at Girl Fit Physical Therapy. Apart from getting to work with an incredible staff and learn an immense volume of knowledge in my field, I have had the distinct privilege to treat a unique and exuberant patient population. This population, a collective of strong and talented women and girls, has taught me as much, if not more, than I have been able to pass on to them.

Let me provide a brief history of myself and my role at Girl Fit PT before we get to the last bit of information I would like to impart. I am in my last year of physical therapy school at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, to graduate in May. This is an amazing realization for me, as I have known I wanted to be a physical therapist since my senior year in high school.

I grew up as a dancer in Scranton, Pennsylvania, studying ballet, tap, jazz, modern, hip-hop, character/cultural dance, and musical theater. I continued dancing throughout college, attending West Chester University of Pennsylvania, where I majored in Exercise Science and minored in dance, while earning my yoga teaching certification through my school’s partnership with Yoga Alliance. At WCU, I performed with and choreographed for University Theatre and University Dance Company, traveling with the latter to Ladek-Zdroj, Poland, to present original choreographic works as part of gala concerts in an international dance festival. That year, I realized that as I proceeded in my academic career, I wanted to wed my love of movement science with my love of dance and the arts; in short, I wanted to be a physical therapist who specialized in a performing arts population. While completing my undergraduate exercise science internships, I channeled this aspiration into being able to work with the resident PT for the Pennsylvania Ballet, as well as with a local outpatient clinic whose director taught an injury prevention course at WCU for music majors – a course for which I was chosen to serve as a teaching assistant.

Physical therapy seemed to be the perfect vessel to make both these passions my career. As a dancer, I fortunately never sustained any derailing injuries; however, my fellow company members surely did. I watched the recuperation process for these injuries, learning that physical therapists were the wizards at work getting these injured dancers back on stage in what seemed like no time. From the opposite end of the spectrum, my mother had always taught me, “if you don’t use it, you lose it”. This she learned from watching my grandmother’s physical health decline until she finally passed away in 2001, in part due to the fact that as her health issues increased, she led an increasingly sedentary life that at one point was no longer voluntary. My mother was the driving force behind my knowledge of health and fitness, and the importance it should hold – not just for one’s sport, but for one’s basic livelihood.

MCPHS’s DPT program consists of two years of didactic work, followed by a final year of three 10-week clinical education experiences. One clinical must be of a complex medical/inpatient nature, along the lines of hospitals, nursing homes, and rehabilitation facilities, and another must be an outpatient setting, which is the most widely known area of PT. Our third clinical is more flexible, wherein we are allowed to choose a specialty within either of the aforementioned disciplines. When it came time to work with our professors in voicing our interests for this specialty, I was sure to vocalize my passion for working with a sports medicine population that specifically served dancers and performing artists. I was delighted when my professors informed me that they had found a site that seemed to be my perfect match, a site to which they had not yet sent a student – Girl Fit PT.

My first clinical was at a skilled nursing facility/continuing care retirement community in Seattle, WA. My second was at an outpatient orthopedic site that specialized in sports medicine in the geographic center of New York City. Both experiences were incredible and I enjoyed them thoroughly. At Girl Fit PT, I became well versed in diagnoses and treatment techniques specific to dancers, as well as gymnasts, skaters, and other young female athletes. These athletes, to my surprise, were not only eager to return to full performance of their beloved sports, but also to learn about their bodies and the multidimensional importance of wellness along the way.

My time at Girl Fit PT

This is a fantastic segue into where the rest of the Girl Fit PT team and myself come in. The most valuable tenet I learned during my time here has been the emphasis on independence and empowerment to our patients of all ages. This includes educating them in every step of their treatment, so that by the time they are strong enough to spread their wings and fly the Girl Fit PT nest, they are knowledgeable in the anatomy of their injury, what exercises constitute a solid home program, and why it is so important that they stick to performing it. I have been only too grateful to help them on that journey.

Speaking of journeys, now that we have discussed the journey that brought me to Girl Fit PT, let’s talk about how my journey as a student physical therapist at Girl Fit PT can maintain relevance for all our awesome patients after I leave. Throughout my time here, one of my projects was staying up to date with current research in the physical therapy field – research that specifically addresses our patient population at Girl Fit PT. Kate was kind enough to loan me a particularly relevant issue of the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, known more simply as JOSPT, from October 2017. On a biweekly basis, I synthesized 1-2 articles pertinent to our patient population to present during team meetings. This was a fantastic way to keep me on my toes as a student and clinician, as well as impart important discoveries on diagnoses and treatment techniques to the rest of the staff that could only serve to better our plans of care for our valued patients. As the weeks progressed at Girl Fit and I developed relationships with these awesome patients, I began to choose articles for my presentations that addressed diagnoses of specific patients, to further augment the treatment we were providing in real time.

Low back pain and joint hypermobility syndrome

For the second part of this post, I would like to focus on the passage of this information onto our patients and parents. My emphasis will be on the diagnoses of low back pain and joint hypermobility syndrome, since these were significant cases that I saw throughout my time at Girl Fit Physical Therapy. I hope that this presentation will demonstrate that you contribute as much to our cycle of knowledge and growth as we hopefully do to yours during your time with us!

The Physical Therapist’s Perspective of Physical Therapy—But as a Patient!

One of our very own physical therapist’s, Jen Wardyga, PT, DPT, is currently getting physical therapy while recovering from ACL reconstruction surgery. While Jen spends most of her time providing physical therapy services to her patients, she now finds herself on the receiving end. See below for her perspective!

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As a lifelong athlete with a long list of my own injuries that have put me onto a physical therapy
treatment table, I have lots of personal experience being a patient. While recovering from my second ACL reconstruction surgery, I was a first-year student in PT school and was conveniently learning about the musculoskeletal system, which helped me to learn a lot more about my injury—why it happened, why my physical therapist was choosing certain exercises for my exercise program, and why she was working on some parts of my body more than others. Now I’m recovering from my 3 rd ACL reconstruction surgery as a full-time physical therapist, and I feel like this is the best recovery I’ve had so far.

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Some people might say “The third time’s a charm,” but I have put a lot of work in behind the scenes that has certainly helped me to see good progress in my recovery. As a patient, I realized that doing my home exercise program three times a day feels a lot like a full-time job, especially when I’m already so tired from my body working in overdrive as it recovers from such an aggressive surgery. Full disclosure: this is the first time that I have been consistently compliant with my home exercises. Let me tell you, there is indeed real truth when your physical therapist says, “The more you do your exercises at home, the better off you’ll be.” Some of these exercises help me with my strength, others with my flexibility, and still others that help my scar tissue to heal as optimally as possible. To be quite honest, sideways bandwalks and foam rolling my quads, IT bands, and adductors are some of the most—hmm, how should I put this—brutal exercises! BUT knowing what I have learned as a physical therapist, I know they are so important for injury prevention and treatment, which is why I prescribe them to almost every one of my
patients with a lower body injury.

Outside of my hard physical work in this recovery journey, the most important thing that has helped me to be so successful thus far is the wonderful support system I have that helps me to keep my spirits and my motivation high. My family has been amazingly loving and supportive throughout my recovery journey, which has helped me to feel like I’m not going through this alone. I am also working with a personal life coach, who frequently helps me to work through the rougher parts of this journey. One of the most important strategies I have learned through this recovery process is becoming comfortable in sitting and pushing through the difficult, frustrating, and uncomfortable situations that often cause me to feel emotions that I cannot always identify right away. Sometimes I cry, and I’m not sure why. Other times I feel frustrated or angry, and I’m also not sure why. Is it the injury that’s causing me to feel this way? Or is it other circumstances or maybe even my perspective that might be the culprit? Through my own research targeting the relationship between emotional and physical components of injury, I’ve learned that inability to appropriately process and manage emotions during the recovery process can cause a delay in physical progress. Sometimes suppressed emotions can manifest in physical forms, causing the body to catastrophize the pain response. As a result, the patient may experience limited physical progress and less successful rehabilitation outcomes.

Now being back in the clinic and treating patients again, I find myself drawing from my personal physical therapy experiences to identify and empathize with my patients even more so than I did before this surgery. One of my goals as a physical therapist has always been to help my patients feel like they are never flying solo through their own injury and recovery journey. I want them to feel like I’m here for them, and we will work through the difficult parts together. Now being on the flip side of surgery, I feel like I can do this even better!

Don’t like foam rolling, doing bandwalks, or performing single leg squats when rehabbing your own injury? Do you find yourself unmotivated to complete your exercises at home because they are difficult and they make you sore? Come to Girl Fit and do them with me! At Girl Fit Physical Therapy, regardless of the physical therapist you’re working with, you are never alone in your journey. We are all a team and we want our patients to have the best success!

Strong Enough to Follow Your Dreams

My whole life I've surrounded myself with strong, amazing women.  Boy am I glad now!  :)  I never quite knew exactly where my dreams were heading, but my experiences, influences, and life's twists, turns, changes, and surprises have led me here.  Girl Fit Physical Therapy.  My dream.  On this blog, you'll hear stories of successes, failures, struggles, joys, laughter, fun, health, fitness, nutrition, wellness, female entrepreneurship, and physical therapy.  In collaboration with many strong women I've been so honored to find throughout my life and those I have yet to meet, I bring you the Girl Fit Physical Therapy Blog.  We will cover interesting and relevant physical therapy topics, do our best to answer all of your questions about PT, health, fitness, and wellness, share stories with you, and hope to inspire you.  

To suggest a blog post or collaborate, email us at girlfitrocks@gmail.com.  Happy reading!

Kate