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Wyomissing, PA 19610


3212 Kutztown Rd.
Laureldale, PA 19605


Monthly Archives: February 2016

A Wide-open Look at TMJ Disorder

A Wide-open Look at TMJ Disorder - Western Berks Physical Therapy


Unfortunately, more than 10 million people in the United States alone suffer damage, pain or discomfort related to the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), and the vast majority of them are women. You actually have two of these joints, one on either side of your head, connecting the mandible (or lower jaw) to your skull. Given that you use these joints for chewing and even swallowing food and talking, it’s vital that the cartilage and muscles associated with the TMJ are in great working order.

TMJ disorder, with a variety of causes and symptoms, is not always easily understood. Physical trauma to the jaw or surrounding muscles caused by a blow to the face, or inflammation from osteoarthritis, may cause the disorder. Emotional stress and anxiety causing one to grind or clench the teeth can also be a factor. Even a common activity such as chewing gum can exacerbate the condition. Symptoms vary depending on the individual but include:

  • Pain in the jaw or neck
  • Swelling on the sides of the face
  • Clicking or popping noises
  • Restricted movement of the jaw
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Ear/hearing complaints

Dentists and physicians treat TMJ disorder with a number of methods including anti-inflammatory medications, biteplates, night guards and, in difficult cases, surgery. But before going to such lengths many advise a physical therapy program as a first option. The main goal of physical therapy when treating TMJ is to decrease pain and uncomfortable symptoms by decreasing muscle irritability and inflammation in the jaw area and helping to restore movement.

Western Berks Physical Therapy can design a program that includes pain modulation, strengthening and stretching exercises, improvements in standing, sitting and sleeping postures, and behavior modifications like avoiding gum or chewy foods. With good self-care and physical therapy, we can often help you deal with this disorder leading to a more comfortable lifestyle.


Statin Drugs and Exercise

Statin Drugs and Exercise - Western Berks Physical Therapy


When cheaper statin drugs came on to the market several years ago, making cholesterol-reducing medication more accessible, some doctors worried that this would actually have an adverse effect on their patients’ health. It is far easier to pop a pill than it is to exercise or commit to a healthier eating plan. But exercise, along with being an important first step to reducing cholesterol, is a vital complementary protocol for those people who are taking statins, according to the National Cholesterol Education Program.

Statins lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels by slowing the production of a cholesterol-producing enzyme in our bodies. However, getting your cholesterol on track is a 2-part process—not only do you want to lower the bad LDL levels but you also want to raise your “good” HDL cholesterol. While statin drugs do have a moderate impact on HDL, adding exercise can do more. Studies show that engaging in 30 minutes of aerobic exercise, 5 to 7 days a week, can increase HDL cholesterol by 5–10% in some people. In addition, changing your diet and engaging in 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise daily can result in weight loss, which will further lower LDL and can even cause plaque in arteries to shrink.

One of the most worrisome side effects of statin drugs, however, is muscle weakness, which can lead to permanent muscle damage. People who exercise may notice muscle changes far quicker than those leading a sedentary lifestyle. Catching this side effect early on can prevent further damage.

While the ultimate goal of lowering cholesterol through statins is to prevent heart disease and stroke, exercise can affect other factors that lead to heart disease, such as triglyceride levels, blood pressure,diabetes and obesity, which statins cannot touch. If you must take statins, getting into better shape could lower your cholesterol enough to allow you to take less potent forms of the drug, thus minimizing side effects. Contact Western Berks Physical Therapy for an exercise regimen to lower your cholesterol and keep you healthy. As a leading provider of physical therapy in Reading PA and the surrounding areas, we work directly with your physician to ensure your exercise regimen will be congruent with your goals.


Can I Exercise After a Mild Heart Attack?


Can I Exercise After a Mild Heart Attack? - Western Berks Physical Therapy


For most people who have had heart attacks, the answer to this question is “yes”—but before you begin to exercise, you should consult your physician about which limitations you should observe, ranging from how moderate or intense your workouts should be to particular motions you should avoid. In fact, physicians often refer heart attack patients to specialized exercise facilities called cardiac rehabilitation clinics, which have equipment and physical therapists to best meet their needs.

It is common to worry that exercise could further damage your heart, but generally, the reverse is true: Not exercising puts you at greater risk for a second cardiac event. For most people, exercising after a heart attack is beneficial, both physically and emotionally. Proper exercise can

  • help you strengthen—not strain—your cardiac muscles;
  • help you lose weight and reduce your blood pressure and cholesterol level;
  • make you feel you have better control over your own wellness; and
  • make you less likely to experience depression.

Once you have gotten the green light to exercise on your own, Western Berks Physical Therapy can design a program to strengthen your heart. A typical exercise plan might involve 10 minutes of warm-ups and stretches, 20 to 30 minutes 3 or 4 times a week of more intense, whole-body movement (such as swimming, walking or stationary bicycling), and 5 minutes of cooling down. These exercises should be performed at least 3 times a week. As a leading provider of Physical Therapy in Reading Pa and the surrounding areas, we work directly with referring physicians through your entire plan of care.

After a while, we would likely suggest adding resistance training to your regimen. Using weights, resistance bands or exercise machines helps you maintain the muscle tone you have and even increase it. We will minimize the isometric actions of these exercises, because these can influence blood pressure. Exercise also strengthens muscles and bones, so the risk of low-back pain, osteoporosis and the likelihood of falls can decrease. Blood pressure and body-fat percentage will be affected, as well—benefits that affect everyone, not just people who have suffered heart attacks.


Is Rock Climbing Safe for Kids?


Is Rock Climbing Safe for Kids? - Western Berks Physical Therapy


An activity that makes you feel good and improves physical fitness? Sounds like something parents and kids would equally love. But rock climbing can be dangerous, and the thought of your child hanging 50 feet above the ground is, understandably, daunting.

Nevertheless, rock climbing offers extensive benefits for kids. Besides releasing “happy” hormones called endorphins, which cause that feel-good feeling, it is a great aerobic exercise that burns more calories per hour than casual soccer or running. In addition, climbing develops muscular endurance and strength, flexibility, self-discipline, confidence, spatial awareness, problem solving, trust and communication.

Probably the easiest and safest way to get started in rock climbing is to take your child to an indoor climbing facility. Originally designed for experienced climbers who needed somewhere to practice in the off-season, indoor climbing courses have morphed into a thriving industry where kids—and adults—can acquire climbing skills in a safe, controlled environment. Experienced instructors can gauge your child’s physical prowess, skill level and motivation for the sport. They will also teach the basic techniques necessary to ensure safety.

Rock climbing is a vigorous and physically demanding activity. In addition to significant endurance, agility and flexibility, it requires strength in seldom-used muscles in the



hands and fingers,


back and



Before your child begins, we can design a strengthening program that focuses on the musculature and skill set needed for rock climbing. In addition, Western Berks Physical Therapy can create a series of warm-up exercises your child should perform before climbing to avoid injury. As a leading provider of Physical Therapy in Reading PA and the surrounding area, we work directly with referring physicians to deliver care. We are also a direct access provider, which means we can also initiate care without the necessity of a prescription. We welcome you to contact us should your child be considering a strengthening program


A Part of Any Wellness Program for Laureldale Residents Should Include Nutrition Counseling

A part of any wellness program for Laureldale residents should include nutrition counseling. Nutrition counseling analyzes the various health needs of a person in regards to exercise and diet. It is the job of a nutritional counselor to help their patients achieve health goals and teach ways in which to maintain these goals throughout life. Such teachings benefit a wide range of people and can even help those with particular disorders, like diabetes for example. During a typical assessment, a nutritional counselor will provide information on the patient’s current health status and provide ways in which overall health can be improved. Here are the benefits nutrition counseling can provide.

A nutritional counselor will likely recommend a fitness program. Because the counselor has inside knowledge about your current needs, a custom program will be designed and obtaining weight and fit goals are reached quicker.

A healthy lifestyle begins with proper nutrition. If you aren’t eating the right foods, you suffer low energy levels, get sick more often and find it difficult to maintain any type of exercise program. It is also a widely known fact that many diseases are caused by an unhealthy diet. You might feel you are maintaining a healthy diet, but a nutritional counselor may prove you wrong and make suggestions on what needs to be changed.

There is a fear that meeting with a nutritional counselor will lead to meals that consist solely of cottage cheese and lettuce. This is far from the truth. There is a wide variety of healthy foods out there that are nutritious as well as delicious.

Discover the benefits of a healthy diet by giving us a call.



Is Walking Enough Fitness for Women?


Is Walking Enough Fitness for Women? - Western Berks Physical Therapy


Walking is good exercise. It is inexpensive, requires only a good pair of athletic shoes and can be done almost anywhere. No one will argue about that. But even a brisk daily walk does not meet the goal of total fitness for women. A comprehensive woman’s fitness program should include moderate to vigorous aerobic exercises, strength training and stretching exercises.

Aerobic exercises are activities that strengthen the cardiovascular system and get the heart beating fast. Walking usually is not vigorous enough to do this, but power walking or walking uphill make good aerobic workouts. Other aerobic activities include jogging, jumping rope, stair climbing, dancing, swimming or playing tennis. Most health clubs have aerobic exercise classes that combine elements of dance and calisthenics for those who do not enjoy exercising alone.

Strength training, also called resistance training, increases muscle strength and builds and maintains bone mineral density of the hip and spine. This is of particular concern to women after menopause when the body does not produce enough hormones to maintain bone density. Resistance training can address this condition. Using tension, these exercises also strengthen the muscles of the arms, legs, chest, abdomen and back. Some classes, such as Pilates, incorporate strength training because they work the stomach and back muscles. Strength training can be done using free weights, weight machines or elastic bands.

Stretching exercises keep muscles limber and improve agility. Stretching
is an important part of warm-up and cool-down after aerobic exercise. The combination of stretching exercises and strength training particularly benefits older women because it helps improve balance and reduces the likelihood of falls.

Every woman—old or young, pregnant, disabled or with a chronic health problem—can benefit from a well-rounded exercise program. If you have a condition you think may be aggravated by exercise, talk with us at Western Berks Physical Therapy. As a leading provider of Physical Therapy in Reading PA and the surrounding areas, we can design a total fitness program that will take into consideration your special needs. Not only will your total fitness program provide more health benefits than a daily walk but its variety will help stave off boredom.


Does Wearing a Corset Prevent Back Injuries?


Does Wearing a Corset Prevent Back Injuries? - Western Berks Physical Therapy


While back pain for some people is no more than a nuisance, statistics show that 50–80% of American adults will be disabled by back pain—some more severely than others—at some point during their lives. Corsets and braces, available without a prescription and generally obtained by individuals on their own or from employers, have been popular as a treatment for back and neck pain.

At the onset of acute back pain, a corset can be useful when worn for a short period of time to relieve stress on the spine and to help you avoid potentially injurious bends and twists. However, they do not appear to help relieve pain and, when used extensively, are not helpful in preventing spine injury.

Today, the true key to help prevent back injuries is strengthening the back through


  • specific exercises,
  • being physically active and
  • using proper body mechanics in your daily activities.


The body mechanics component begins with learning the all-important neutral spine position. Knowing how to bend and how to lift objects properly is crucial because doing so incorrectly is a prime cause of back injuries. The spine consists of 3 parts, each with a natural curve: cervical (neck), thoracic (middle) and lumbar (low). We can help you recognize how to stand, sit and walk to best maintain these curves in their proper neutral alignment, or to correct over-curvatures that may have developed over time.

A supervised exercise program designed for you might include stretching, muscle strengthening, back stabilization and flexing. Your plan would probably also include exercises designed to build aerobic capacity and endurance; improving your overall fitness makes you less susceptible to back and other injuries.

Finally, Western Berks Physical Therapy , a leading provider of Physical Therapy in Reading PA area, can work with you to strengthen your abdominal muscles. Though they are found in the front region of your body rather than the back, they are critically important to supporting your spine.


Treating a High Ankle Sprain

Treating a High Ankle Sprain - Western Berks Physical Therapy


A high ankle sprain involves a stretching or tearing of the ligaments that bind the two lower leg bones (the tibia and fibula) together at the place where they meet the anklebone (the talus). This complex joint is called the ankle syndesmosis, and these sprains sometimes are called ankle syndesmotic sprains. Unlike most ankle sprains that occur when the foot rolls inward, the foot being forced upward and the ankle forcibly rotating outward cause high ankle sprains. This type of injury is most common in high-level football players, ice hockey players and snow skiers.

High ankle sprains are serious injuries that take at least twice as long to heal as more common sprains and always need physical therapy to rehabilitate the ankle. These sprains are treated initially with PRICE: Protection,Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.

Even with a mild sprain, you often will use crutches for a week or more to keep all weight off the ankle. This is required because standing on the foot pushes the bones apart and does not allow normal healing to occur. More severe levels of this sprain may require the use of a cast or walking boot for a few weeks. Complete ligament tears may require surgery to insert a screw to hold the leg bones together while the ligament heals. Recovery can take anywhere from 6 weeks for a mild sprain to 6 months or longer for sprains requiring surgery.

As part of the rehabilitation process, physical therapy should begin as soon as possible and may continue for anywhere from a few weeks to several months, depending on the severity of the sprain. Western Berks Physical Therapy , a leading provider of physical therapy in Reading PA region, can work with your doctor to develop an exercise program that begins by extending range of motion in the ankle and then moves on to strengthening and balance exercises so that you can return to your sport as soon as safely possible.


Sneaking Exercise Into Your Schedule

Sneaking Exercise Into Your Schedule - Western Berks Physical Therapy

Are you frazzled? Stressed? Do not think there are enough hours in the day to get everything done? Then when you hear that the Department of Health and Human Services has established physical activity guidelines that call for getting a minimum of 2½ hours of moderate exercise every week, your first thought may be, “No way. I don’t have the time.” But think again: If you are constantly on the go, have an irregular schedule and have not been exercising, you are the perfect candidate to become an “exercise sneak.”

The “golden rule” of sneaking exercise is that some exercise is always better than none. So, perhaps you cannot devote 1½ hours to go to the gym, but you can take a 15-minute walk at lunch, take the stairs instead of the elevator to your next sales meeting or play catch with your kids before dinner. Every little bit helps, especially if you can exercise for 10 minutes or longer doing something that gets your heart beating faster and makes you slightly out of breath.

Here are some other ways to sneak exercise into your overloaded days:

  • Walk with the kids to school. 
  • Meet a friend for a walk rather than for coffee.
  • Clean one room every day at a fast pace; play upbeat music to get you moving while you clean
  • Do stretches while watching television
  • Wear a pedometer and challenge yourself to walk a few more steps every day
  • Walk the dog. He / she will love you for it

Western Berks Physical Therapy, a leading provider of  Physical Therapy in Reading PA area,  can show you how to get the most out of short bursts of exercise. Let us show you strength training exercises you can do using free weights or rubber bands while you watch your favorite television show. You will find that exercise sneaking reduces stress and can leave you feeling less frazzled and less tired at the end of the day.


Weight Training – Health Benefits for Every Age

Weight Training - Health Benefits for Every Age - Western Berks Physical Therapy


Most of us know that regular exercise provides many benefits. However, as we age, we lose muscle mass, bone density and strength. Weight training, also called resistance or strength training, can substantially slow or reduce these effects of aging.

Weight training is any exercise where muscles work and contract against an object. Push-ups, lifting weights and stretching with elastic bands are examples of resistance exercises.

Weight-training programs are based on what are called “reps” and “sets.” Repetitions, or reps, is the number of times you do an exercise. Sets is the number of cycles of reps. Beginners should start with weights that allow only

15 to 20 repetitions of a single exercise. After several weeks, when you can do these easily, slowly increase the amount of weight.

Increasing the amount of weight will increase strength, while staying at the same weight level will maintain that level of strength. The following tips can also help:


  • Stretch and warm up before beginning your weight program. 
  • Drink fluids between sets.
  • A little soreness is to be expected, but stop if you feel pain.
  • Don’t work the same muscle groups on consecutive days.
  • Rest 48 to 72 hours between workouts. Studies show that muscles build strength and grow as they recover.


With weight training, the benefits are both immediate and ongoing. Muscles respond quickly, which provides great motivation for continuing to exercise. Healthy adults should perform weight training 2 to 3 times per week. In addition to increasing strength, weight training can improve psychological well-being, improve sleep, and prevent osteoporosis, diabetes and obesity, as well as improve balance.

Always check first with your doctor before beginning any weight-training program. Then talk with Western Berks Physical Therapy to develop a program that will meet your goals, as well as teach you the proper form to avoid injury. We’re on of the leading providers of Physical Therapy in Reading PA region.