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…

Picture1.png

 

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

pic2.png

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

pic3.png

 

 

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.

Picture1.png
Picture2.png

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.

pic3.png

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.

pic.png

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.

1.png

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!

IMG_3176.JPG

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.

IMG_2970.JPG

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