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511 Gordon Avenue
Thomasville, GA, 31792

(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.


Physical Therapists Want to Help You Meet Your Health Goals in 2018

Dawn Muller


Celebrating the end of one year and the beginning of a new one has become synonymous with establishing resolutions for the 12 months ahead. Marking the new year with a list of goals—whether lofty or simple—is a chance to improve upon the year prior.

The practice requires a bit of introspection to identify the areas of life that weren’t quite up to snuff and a commitment to making changes. Either way, resolutions aren’t for the faint of heart, as the follow-through might be the hardest part of the whole process. In fact, a mere 8% of people achieve the goals they set for themselves on New Year’s Eve, according to research out of the University of Scranton.

As physical therapists, we acknowledge that we can do better, too. Whether it’s spending more time with our families, adhering to a more consistent sleep schedule, or learning a new sport, we scratch out the same lists everyone does at this time of the year. But on a professional front, we’ve added a new goal for 2018: attaching a better definition to the term “physical therapist.”

Chances are you know someone who recently had physical therapy, or maybe you even went yourself. But we are willing to bet you’d have trouble coming up with a quick way to define the service. We’re here to help! By background and training, physical therapists are movement specialists. Simple, right? We specialize in movement.

We spend our days helping those who are having trouble moving due to a variety of causes. We diagnose, evaluate, educate, treat, and prevent depending on the individual case. We handily teach patients how to prevent or manage their conditions in order to achieve long-term health benefits. Most of all, physical therapists help patients return to the activities they once enjoyed: time with family, school, work, and physical activities.

Much of the work in physical therapy involves setting goals for patients to reach. We develop plans to reduce pain, promote movement, and restore function and we help you meet those goals one step at a time. Let’s work together to reach our goals in 2018, and keep each other on track!

Insulin Resistance and Exercise

Dawn Muller


One of the hottest topics in medicine right now is the early detection of Insulin Resistance - and for good reason. Insulin resistance is a pre-cursor to what people know as type 2 diabetes. So what exactly is insulin resistance? Put simply, Insulin resistance (IR) happens when our bodies have difficulty using glucose for energy because glucose molecules in the blood cannot properly enter our cells. But WHY, you ask? Insulin resistance happens overtime by consuming too many food/drinks that are high in carbohydrates. This floods the blood stream with insulin to try to break down the carbohydrates/ sugar but the body can't keep up. This wears out the pancreas, the organ that makes the insulin. A sedentary lifestyle (read couch potato, desk jockey, hard core gamer) also makes you more like to develop IR. Exercise or activity uses carbohydrates as the main source of energy leaving less sugar running around in the blood stream. Ideally, the body prefers a slow steady level of carbohydrates for best performance and to keep it humming. Can insulin resistance improve or even better, be reversed? Absolutely, it can. Both exercise and a healthy, low carb, higher fiber diet can improve and reverse insulin resistance. At the stage of insulin resistance, the changes are reversible.

Here is a little more detailed information to help you understand how our bodies work:

Insulin is a messenger

Insulin is chemical messenger (aka hormone) produced by our pancreas. Similar to other hormones, the release of insulin into the body can be triggered by specific events. Insulin is triggered to be released from the pancreas when glucose (also called sugar) in the blood increases. This trigger occurs after consuming foods that contain sugar (simple or complex carbohydrates). Simple carbohydrates break down quicker into glucose than the body can make insulin which leads to spikes in insulin production. This causes inflammation in all of the cells in your body making them function like an older, less healthy cell. The good new is that complex carbs take longer to break down and cause a less pronounced insulin spike giving the body time to do it's insulin production. Insulin is like a key that guides glucose through “physiological doors” (mainly located in muscles and liver) which were previously inaccessible by glucose alone. Your body uses the energy created by this key in the door and stores what you don't need right away for future use. By the way, this is call fat. So the goal is not to store more than you need.

A Little More About Insulin Resistance

When we repeatedly flood the blood with sugar via too much food or too many simple sugars or carbs (basically anything made with white flour or sugar) the pancreas gets burned out and eventually will fail, causing Type 2 diabetes. This frequent flood of sugar blocks the “physiological cell doors” of our body. These can leave abnormal amounts glucose stuck in the blood, which causes more insulin to be secreted by the pancreas. Why is more insulin secreted by the pancreas? Remember that the trigger for insulin secretion is high blood sugar. High levels of sugar means high levels of insulin are needed but not always availlable. This imbalanced relationship leads to chronically elevated sugar and insulin levels. Since our body cannot store the glucose in this form, our body ends up storing it as fat (commonly in areas that do not need it, AKA around your belly).

What causes and/or contributes to insulin resistance?

Typically, the more fat you have, the more likely you are to have insulin resistance, especially if you carry that fat around your middle. Again, consuming high amounts of foods that contain sugar or white flour (which breaks down quickly into sugar-who knew!) In other words, over time our tissues don't respond to insulin because insulin has become so familiar. Think about this, have you ever walked into a house where the trash needed to be taken out? The smell is awful, but the longer you are in the room the less the room smells? That is one way to make sense of this physiological process.

Finally, How can I improve/reverse insulin resistance?

Healthy diet and calorie Restriction:

Research has shown:

  1. Eat healthy and reduce calories of you are overweight.

  2. Weight loss also causes (liver) fat loss which also improves insulin sensitivity.


Research Has Shown:

1). Any exercise is better than no exercise. The risk for developing NIDDM in women who engage in exercise at least once a week has been estimated to be 33% lower than for their sedentary counterparts.

2). The better shape you are in, the more insulin sensitive you are, which means glucose is efficiently used for energy. Cross-sectional studies have shown that trained subjects are more insulin sensitive than untrained subjects even to the point that endurance-trained elderly subjects are more insulin sensitive than young, sedentary subjects. Now that is something to write home about!

3). One bout of exercise may have lasting effects on insulin sensitivity. In healthy humans a single bout of exercise has been shown to increase insulin sensitivity for 4 to 72 hours depending on how long and how hard you exercise.

    4). Exercise can help reverse unhealthy organs and cells (like a fatty liver). Large adipocytes (fat cells) impair insulin sensitivity because they store fat in the abdomen and liver. Exercise can help reduce these fat deposits.

    So what's the main take away?

    Just like your grandmama told you, exercise and a healthy diet are a good idea. They can improve or reverse insulin resistance, meaning that our body can properly use glucose for energy. Even a single bout of exercise can improve insulin sensitivity both short-term and overtime.. Remember that exercise is effective for improving insulin sensitivity regardless of whether you are young or old. So get out there and be active! You were made to Thrive!



    Ready, Set, Run! Combat Depression with Regular Exercise

    Dawn Muller

    Thrive pic 2.jpg

    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.

    Lunge 1.jpg

    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.

    Lunge 2.jpg

    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.

    Lunge 3.jpg

    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.