Raising the Bar on Physical Therapy
Jan 31, 2019 02:34AM
By Karen Gonzalez
My physical therapy practice is located at Kinesis, The Movement Studio, in Clearwater. I named it as such because our focus is movement and all its components. My clientele varies from the young athlete to the 101-year-old lady who share one commonality—pain with movement. Pain is an overwhelming feeling; it can be all-encompassing and take over one’s life.
The human body is equipped with the ability to heal itself from injury so that it can return to a state of balance—a state of homeostasis. However, due to the demands of day-to-day living or the desire to excel in a particular sport or activity, undue stressors are placed on the musculoskeletal system resulting in layers of compensatory tightness, adhesions and inactive muscles. This leads to postural imbalances and poor movement patterns that become the body’s "normal" and may oftentimes lead to varying levels of discomfort or pain.
My approach to treatment doesn’t focus only on the painful joint or muscle but rather is a complete analysis of the musculoskeletal system. During the initial assessment, the body is analyzed both statically and during motion to identify areas of restriction and overactive and inactive muscles. This is followed by releasing tight muscles/connective tissue through manual therapy techniques that may include soft tissue and joint mobilization, cupping, radial pulse shockwave and instrument-assisted releases.
Ki-Hara Eccentric Resistance Stretching is a specialized technique I use to identify and correct muscular imbalances. Joint movement is a result of an "artfully choreographed" synchrony of movement between the muscles surrounding the joint. It is a fluid exchange of shortening and lengthening between muscles. Ki-Hara Resistance Stretching combines stretching and strengthening of muscle and fascial tissue during eccentric contraction or lengthening of the muscle. This technique is utilized by Olympic and professional athletes to enhance their performance in their chosen sport and improve longevity through the injury-preventive nature of eccentric movement.
Designing corrective exercises is the final and essential component of the treatment plan. Without these exercises, the body could return to its "normal" state that it was in when it responded to the repetitive stress and consequent compensatory movements. This is the last step to reprogramming the body to its most correct pattern.
I like the word "fluidity". By definition, it is the state of being unsettled or unstable— changeability. The body’s movement through space is not in isolation because it has to respond to the elements it encounters. It has to balance, bend, twist and progress forward, sideways or backwards. Imagining the movement of muscles and soft tissue in this context encompasses the thrust of my practice. Soft tissues need to be released and stretched, strengthening and instilling correct patterns of motion. In addition, educating clients to understand the cause of their pain and movement restriction empowers them to control and manage their symptoms. Quoting a portion of a testimonial by a client: "She helps to create and maintain a dialogue between us and, more importantly, an internal dialogue about the body that is critical for reprogramming poor movement patterns and alignment."
Karen Gonzalez is a physical therapist and the owner of Kinesis, the Movement Studio (a physical therapy and fitness studio specializing in aerial bungee fitness and flexibility classes), in Clearwater. She is also a master trainer of Ki-Hara Eccentric Resistance Stretching technique. She has been a therapist for 26 years and established her private practice in 2004. An avid rock climber and runner, she has given a multitude of professional and community lectures on running injuries and management, postural imbalances and correction.
"I spent years being treated by many different practitioners using different modalities, attempting to keep my body from falling to the right side and lacking strength in lower right side of body. After six weeks, twice-per-week (sessions) with Karen, what was untreatable now no longer limits me in any way."
"I’m so impressed; I’m now having a nagging shoulder injury being treated and am already seeing vast improvements in range of motion and strength. Phenomenal!"
"I’m so excited to be able to do things that were so limiting and painful before. So very happy to have finally found a healer who has done what others couldn’t."
"Not only is Karen a fantastic practitioner but also a very loving, compassionate human being." ~ Lu T.
"I certainly will miss you and our weekly physical therapy sessions; you will be very hard to replace! As you know, I had been doing physical therapy before at a few places and thought Ki-Hara and the resistance stretching would be a way to help address my issues. And, it was great—and great to get some additional range of motion and flexibility back. But more than that, you kept working on all my many recurring knots and pains and trying different techniques to find something that worked with my unique issues. Nobody else had ever approached the problems like you did. It was so great to work with someone so dedicated to their clients in trying to help them get better. I hope I can find a physical therapist in my new town that rises to the standard you set." ~ J.J.
Kinesis is located at 4760 East Bay Dr., Ste. D, Clearwater. For more information, call 727-481-1694, email [email protected] or visit KinesisMovementStudio.com. See ad page 23.