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511 Gordon Avenue
Thomasville, GA, 31792
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(229) 228-9019

THRIVE Physical Therapy and Fitness: Private Treatment Rooms, Manual Therapy, Women's Health, Chronic Pain, Spine Pain, Fitness Training, Weight Loss, Diabetes, Headaches, Sports Injury, Dance Recovery, Scar Release, Scoliosis, Balance Training, Vertigo, and more.

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Ready, Set, Run! Combat Depression with Regular Exercise

Dawn Muller

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Imagine going to the doctor with symptoms of depression and she hands you a new prescription: Do two sets of squats, 15 bicep curls, 10 laps around the track and call me in the morning. Though this is not (yet) an accurate picture, experts are starting to recognize that regular exercise is not only good for your mood but may help combat depression, too.

Until physicians and other healthcare providers universally prescribe exercise as an alternative treatment for depression, it’s best to turn to a group of professionals who are already in the know: physical therapists. PTs are trained to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental health illnesses like depression and understand how the disorder can interfere with a person’s ability to enjoy life.

An individualized care plan starts with a thorough assessment and detailed patient history so the PT can capture the limitations of the illness and understand the goals the patient would like to achieve. Each custom treatment plan includes some combination of flexibility, strength, coordination and balance exercises designed to achieve optimal physical function and to help shed the layers of depression.

For patients suffering from depression, it can be stressful and overwhelming to think about incorporating exercise into their lives either for the first time or after a long hiatus. Because the illness’ symptoms often include fatigue and loss of interest in activities, it can be difficult for patients to take that first step, both literally and figuratively. But physical therapists excel in motivating patients to perform exercises both safely and effectively. In fact, another bonus of seeing a physical therapist to get started on a new exercise program, is that he’s trained to identify other injuries or illnesses that require a special approach.

You don’t have to have depression to reap the benefits of exercise. In fact, the mood-boosting pastime can help anyone who might be temporarily sad or otherwise not themselves. Major life stressors—divorce, loss of a job, and death—are difficult for anyone and regular exercise is a great way to help people through a tough time. With regular exercise, you’re guaranteed to see improvements in the following areas:

• Strength and flexibility  

• Sleep

• Memory  

• Self-confidence

• Energy

• Mood

Even minimal changes in any of these areas could change your outlook on the day and your ability to participate in activities you once enjoyed. So, what are you waiting for?

Take the Lunge

Dawn Muller

When looking at functional exercises for people of all ages, there are few that I like more than the lunge. I know that they have a bad rap for being bad for your knees and if you are in the gym, you have seen plenty of people with less than stellar form. In this post, we’ll look at my top 3 lunge hacks for some of the breakdowns in form that I typically see in the gym. Before we start, just a note, performing a full lunge is not for everyone. If you have knee pain while sitting down, standing up, climbing or going down the stairs, or if you have pain while performing a lunge, you will likely want to check in with your Physical Therapist prior to trying the lunge variations below.

So, why lunges instead of all the big, shiny, and expensive machines in the gym? First, while you can “feel the burn” with machines, develop some strength, and in general, get a decent workout, you do exceptionally little to challenge your balance. You also fail to develop functional strength, or mobility (think the ability to get off the ground, go upstairs with ease, or help a friend move a couch). You also fail to improve in breathing control, balance, coordination, posture, and endurance. Yes, I know the lunge does not have the headrest, the lumbar support, or the TV to take your mind off the burn. The lunge is a full experience of movement, strength, and flexibility that helps us age well.

What is a lunge? Simply put, you step forward with feet roughly hip width apart, and lower yourself nearly to the ground. Afterward, return to your starting position. Simple, right?

Below are some foundational faults, then we’ll go into some correctives.

Does your knee wobble left and right when you drop down into your lunge, or squats? Try the following exercise to strengthen your hips and develop control. Coaching Tips: Place the band around your thigh with the resistance pulling across your body. Lower yourself while resisting the band pulling your knee across your body. Retest your lunges frequently to know when you should transition back to your regular lunges.

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Do your knees go out over your toes, maybe giving you some pain behind the kneecap? Try this modification.  Coaching Tips: Pretend your feet are on roller skates, and you do not want to go down into a split. Pull yourself to the ground (your lead leg will pull back while your back leg will pull forward). This should keep your knees from going past your toes (you will probably really feel your hammies and hip flexors). You should feel less strain on your knees.

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Do you lose your balance/lean/lose control of your midsection in your lunges? Try the following anti-rotation lunge. Coaching Tips: Anchor your weight/band, stretching across your lead leg (either across your body, or to the outside). Step into your lunge while resisting rotation.

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Now remember, correctives are just how they sound. They are there to get you past where you are having a form breakdown that may make you more likely to have pain or injury if not cleaned up. The important component after cleaning up your form is to load the pattern, adding more weight and increasing the complexity of the exercise. These movements should be pain free and when loading, should not develop the faults from above (usually meaning that you loaded too much too soon).

Thank you for reading,

Dr. B

Which Bones, Joints and Muscles Do You Want to Keep? 

Dawn Muller

As one of my professors used to say.  "You only have to work the body parts that you want to keep!"

As one of my professors used to say.  "You only have to work the body parts that you want to keep!"


 Chances are you’ve come across the old dental health adage: “Floss the teeth you want to keep.” The first time you spotted this sign in a dental office or heard the phrase uttered word-for-word by the dentist probably elicited a giggle or a snarky remark. But once the humor of it washed away, you more than likely had an a-ha moment. It just makes so much sense, doesn’t it? 
 
Let’s try to apply this principle to other parts of the human body: What if you only stretched the muscles you wanted to keep? What if you performed weight-bearing exercises to maintain the strength of just a few of your more than 200 muscles? This is an extreme example, of course, but without the guidance of a physical therapist, it’s possible that some parts of your musculoskeletal system may be inadvertently neglected. 
 
Physical therapists are trained to identify and treat a wide range of movement disorders including sports injuries such as sprains and strains as well as conditions including arthritis, Parkinson’s disease and stroke. The rehab professionals work closely with patients to develop individualized plans based on thorough assessments and detailed patient histories. A personalized care plan will include some combination of flexibility, strength, coordination and balance exercises designed to achieve optimal physical function. 
 
Physical therapists can address proper posture and body mechanics to help patients participate in common daily activities, relieve pain and improve function. When it comes to keeping bones healthy and reducing risk, for example, PTs can design an effective exercise program and suggest healthy habits for the patient to adhere to. 
 
And contrary to popular belief, you don’t need an injury or other painful ailment to schedule time with a physical therapist. In fact, the therapy professionals encourage you to consider visiting a PT as often as you schedule regular checkups with your dentist, primary care physician or dermatologist. 

Thrive's Healthy Recipe of the Month: Grilled Basil Chicken

Dawn Muller

This month's Healthy Recipe of the Month is one that Dr. Dawn has shared with friends for a while now.  She first found the recipe in The Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook, and this would pair well with grilled asparagus, squash or any other grilled veggies.  Bon Appetit!

Grilled Basil Chicken

3 T lemon juice
2 T chopped fresh basil or 2 t dried
1 garlic clove
¼ cup olive oil
4 skinned, bone-in chicken breast halves or 8 skinned thighs

Process first 3 ingredients in food processor or blender 30 seconds, while still running drizzle in oil until well blended.  Reserve ¼ cup and brush the rest over the chicken to marinate for 30 minutes.  Grill chicken, basting twice with reserved marinade, covered with grill lid at 300 to 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until done.

Know Your Therapist Series: Dawn Muller, PT, DPT, MTC, Cert DN

Dawn Muller

As we celebrate National Physical Therapy Month, we wanted to give you the opportunity to get to know our therapists here at THRIVE.  

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For our last installment this month, we sit down with Dawn Muller, Thrive’s lead therapist and owner.  Dawn has been practicing Physical Therapy for 30 years, is certified in Dry Needling therapy and specializes in Pelvic Health.  She lives in Thomasville with her husband, and is very proud of their two grown sons.

Why did you become a PT?
I remember vividly when I decided to make PT my career path.  I was an avid reader as a kid.  When I was a sophomore in high school, I read two books where the main characters in the books had to go through extensive physical therapy to return to their previous life.  I was so inspired by these true stories. It just clicked for me and I really felt like it was God-inspired.

What were some of the jobs you had before you started your physical therapy career?
My first job was babysitting and I did a LOT of that!  I also worked as a cashier in a grocery store, a sub shop, a sewing store and as a waitress.  I am a firm believer in teenagers having jobs.  Each of those positions taught me about serving others and customer service.  Also, attention to detail is a great skill to learn early!

What is your favorite part about being a PT?
I like everything but the paperwork!  If I have to choose, I would say my favorite part is when a client becomes inspired to make changes that have long-term impact.  I get super excited if someone is motivated to lose weight, stop smoking take up regular exercise, or compete in athletic events.  Those kinds of changes shift how people view themselves and reduce their risks of nearly every other kind of chronic illnesses.  It can mean the difference in whether someone chooses to travel to take that new job, or try a new sport.

What are some of the job’s biggest challenges?
Being a good therapist takes a lot of physical and emotional energy, but giving that extra energy, giving of yourself is – to me – also one of the most gratifying parts of the job. I am a big believer in serving others as a way to give significance to your life.  As with most things in life, you get out of it what you put in.

How do you make certain that you are kept up-to-date on new research for PT practices?
I have been practicing for 30 years.  Healthcare has changed so much, so you have to be an adult learner.  Also, I want to be at the top of my game, so I place a high priority on reading, learning and perfecting my skills.  I try to read at least one new research article a week, I listen to podcasts and read professional journals.  It is so much easier to do this now with Google Scholar and technology than it was 10 years ago.

What were/are some of your favorite continuing education courses?
I loved Jeff Skorput and Vicki Sims’ course on Lumbopelvic Pain.  It is the only course I have ever taken more than once.  I also really enjoyed all of my manual therapy courses needed for my manual therapy certification. 

What is one interesting fact most of our readers/patients may not know about you?
I’mbeekeeper.

Quick Facts:
Favorite Color: green
Favorite Drink: water first, coffee second
Favorite Food: raspberries
Favorite Exercise/Activity: Boot Camp
Favorite Vacation Spot: Any place with a beach
Favorite Time Of Year: Fll
Morning Person or Night Owl? Morning
Favorite Quote(s):
            “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again!” (Pretty appropriate, don’t you think?)