PTC Blog

Let’s talk massage! Did you know that there are many different types of massage? Shiatsu is a form of massage, but not many people know what it is, why it’s beneficial and who is appropriate for it. Shiatsu is a combination of acupuncture and massage based on traditional Chinese medicine, with a 3000 year old history. Shiatsu means “finger pressure” -with the therapist using finger, thumb and palm pressure to acupoints to stimulate the body’s vital energy or “Qi” (pronouced chi). Shiatsu involves an assessment and questions about how you are sleeping, eating and eliminating. It is important to gain insight about what is happening inside your body prior
to a Shiatsu massage.

Unlike traditional massage, Shiatsu is performed through loose, comfortable clothing, which protects the skin while compression pressure is applied. A low table height is used to perform this massage while you are lying down. Other positions can be used if you are unable to lie down.

Although Shiatsu is used to treat a wide variety of conditions, pain is the most common use for this form of massage. It reaches underlying causes of pain, as well as addresses the symptoms. Shiatsu is unique in being able to affect emotional health as well as digestive and gynecololoical issues.

Shiatsu is calm and relaxing in nature, yet dynamic in effect. The body begins to readjust itself and healing begins to take place. Shiatsu may be more intense because it goes deeper into the body, deeper into tissues, and breathing becomes more physiological. This is helpful in connecting the mind and body through use of guided deep, slow breathing.

After a session of Shiatsu there is usually a feeling of being relaxed and energized. That feeling can last for couple of hours after a session. The overall effect of Shiatsu treatments helps to strengthen the immune system, tonify organs, and keep the “Qi” and blood flowing smoothly.

Physical Therapy Consultants now offers Shiatsu massage at our Ham Lake, Andover and St. Francis locations. Request an appointment online at: or call 1-888-THERAPY to schedule an appointment.

Exclusive to this blog: Receive $20 off your next 60 minute massage. To redeem this offer, print the blog or show this article at the time of your appointment. Code: Save20BLOG. Offer not valid in conjunction with any other offers. Expires October 31st, 2018.

Jackie Geise, LPTA
Physical Therapist Assistant
Physical Therapy Consultants, Inc.

September 26th, 2018

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Did you know you can still go out to eat and stay on track with healthy eating? Changing eating habits and making healthy choices can be a daunting task but don’t let it deter you from still going out. Going to restaurants with friends and family, trying new foods and enjoying life is a part of your healthy lifestyle.

Here are a few tips to stay on task and not feel guilty about eating out!

1) Most restaurants have menus online now, check out the menu before you go to get an idea.
2) Eat a light, healthy snack such as an apple with small amount of nut butter or veggies and hummus before you go out so you are not starving by the time you get there prompting impulsive, unhealthy choices.
3) Avoid deep fried foods
4) Ask how a meal is prepared, look for grilled meats and steamed vegetables.
5) Avoid dishes with cream sauces and/or a lot of cheese.
6) When ordering a salad ask for dressing on the side.
7) With a burger, scrap the bun. This could save you an average of 120 extra calories.
8) Ask for a to go box right away and put half to the side decreasing the chance of over eating.
9) Drink plenty of water. Try to skip the pop and/or alcoholic beverages to avoid drinking empty calories.


Be happy, be healthy and enjoy life! Here’s to making healthy lifestyle choices and changes!


Kerra Pietsch, LPTA
Physical Therapist Assistant
Andover Physical Therapy

September 19th, 2018

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Raise your hand if you have stress in your life! If your hand didn’t go up, you are lying! In all seriousness, everyone has stress to a certain degree but it is really how we deal with stress that makes the biggest difference.

Recently the staff at Physical Therapy Consultants had a presentation from Darcy Rylander (Allina Community Engagement Team) regarding techniques to manage stress in the workplace or at home. One of the reminders we received was that stress is not always bad. Sometimes stress can help us reach deadlines, or work harder towards a goal. Other times, stress creates havoc on our work life and personal life but it doesn’t have to!

Here are a couple techniques you can try while at work (or home for that matter) to manage stress.

1. Pursed lip breathing: inhale through your nose and exhale through puckered or pursed lips. This type of breathing technique helps to decrease your breathing rate, as well as promote relaxation for the entire body. Try 5-10 repetitions with your eyes open or closed.

2. Belly or Diaphragmatic breathing: Put one hand over your belly and the other hand over your chest. Take a deep breath so that your hand on your belly moves with the inhale to a count of 4. Slowly exhale and feel your hands move with the breath you take. Try 5-10 repetitions.

3. Square breathing: slowly exhale getting all the oxygen out of your lungs. Inhale slowly for a count of 4 and then hold your breath for a count of 4. Slowly exhale for a count of 4 and hold your breath for a count of 4. Repeat this cycle 5 to 10 times.

Remember to sit upright during these breathing techniques. Also be aware that not all techniques will work for you. Choose the ones that you respond well too and know that sometimes the technique you choose will be dependent on the situation you are in.

Stress can be very difficult at times but it is not always a bad thing to experience stress especially when you have good tools to manage it. Your physical therapist can help you with stress management. To find a therapist near you visit our website at or call 1-888-THERAPY.

Jackie Giese, LPTA
Physical Therapist Assistant
Physical Therapy Consultants, Inc.

September 14th, 2018

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Sciatic nerve pain can be a pain in the butt, back, and all the way down the leg. True sciatica symptoms are caused by irritation to the Sciatic Nerve, either in the lumbar spine or caused by tight muscles along the nerve distribution down the back of the leg to the foot. Symptoms of sciatic nerve pain can include weakness, numbness and/or tingling down the leg, or a sharp shooting pain. In a study published in May 2018, researchers found that patients with low back pain, who saw a physical therapist first, had significantly lower out of pocket healthcare costs and decreased use of opioids, than those who saw physical therapist later or not at all. It pays to see a PT! Fortunately, low back pain can easily be treated in physical therapy.

Here are the top 5 exercises to help with sciatic nerve pain.

1. Sciatic Nerve Glide. Nerves don’t like to be stretched like muscles do. They require a floss or a gliding motion to restore their normal blood, movement, and space they require to function properly. To complete this exercise lay on your back. On the affected side, grab the back of your leg with your hands so your hip is at about 90°. Straighten out your knee as much as possible. Then slowly move your foot back and forth until you are feeling an “on/off” sensation. Complete 10 repetitions 2-3x/day.

2. Piriformis Stretch. The sciatic nerve runs right through the middle of the piriformis muscle, so if the muscle is tight it can pinch the nerve. To complete this exercise lay on your back. Cross one leg over the other (in a figure 4 position). The grab the top knee and pull it toward your opposite shoulder until a gentle stretch is felt. Hold for 30 seconds and complete 2 repetitions on each side 2-3x/day.

3. Lower Trunk Rotations. This is a great exercise to do before you get out of bed in the morning. It loosens up the back and hip musculature. To complete the exercise lay on your back with your knees bent up and your feet flat on the floor. Slowly rock your knees side to side. Complete 15-20 repetitions 2-3 times per day.

4. Hamstring Stretch. The hamstrings also run in close proximity to the sciatic nerve, so it’s also a good one to complete seated in chair with one leg bent and one extended out in front of you. Lean forward slightly until a
stretch is felt down the back of your thigh. Toes should be relaxed to avoid putting stress on your sciatic nerve. Hold
for 30 seconds and complete 2 repetitions on each side 2-3x/day.

5. Bridges. Strengthening the glute muscles can take stress off of the lumbar spine. To complete this exercise, keep your feet on the ground with knees bent up. Activate TA and contract your glute muscles. Lift hips off of the ground, making sure to lift hips evenly. Hold for 3-5 seconds and return to starting position. Complete 10-20 repetitions 1-2x/day.

Give these exercises a try the next time you are experiencing sciatic nerve pain. If the pain doesn’t go away after trying these exercises, give us a call a 1-888-THERAPY to schedule an initial evaluation!

Rebecca Varoga, PT, DPT
Physical Therapist
Isanti Physical Therapy

August 29th, 2018

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Put on your running shoes (or walking shoes) and get ready for the 5th Annual Chaos 5k Fun Walk/Run! Festivities will be held on Saturday October 13th, 2018 at 9am. We are super excited for this event that takes place in St. Francis, MN at the Rum River North County Park.

Get a team together this year to take part in the Chaos! Now you might be asking yourself… Why is it called the “Chaos 5k”? The name Chaos was chosen by our team at Physical Therapy Consultants (PTC) because of the fun our team brings to our communities. Throughout the route, CHAOS ensues at the most unexpected areas making it a unique and enjoyable experience for families, and friends. Top that off with some Halloween costumes and you have the making of a morning filled with non-stop laughter, excitement and fun.

The Chaos 5k Walk/Run is the perfect community event for people of all ages and physical abilities. The route follows the beautiful Rum River and is paved which allows you to bring strollers, wagon etc. We also have great activities for kids before and during the event as well as music and multiple chances to win prizes!

Even more rewarding than the fun and prizes is the opportunity to pay it forward! Each year PTC chooses a MN local non-profit organization to donate all the proceeds to. The past 3 years, PTC has chosen to donate to a wonderful organization called Citizen’s Supporting Our Armed Forces (CSOAF). CSOAF is dedicated to providing support to our MN troops who have been deployed. CSOAF provides this support by shipping care packages filled with essential items that are needed by the troops while still providing them a little piece of home.

We also hold a competition between our clinic locations to collect the most donation items. The clinic that is able to collect the most items by the date of the 5k wins a great prize! We love seeing all the support that comes from our patients and community members in gathering items for these men and women who are fighting for our country.

If you haven’t signed up for the 5k yet, no worries! Early bird registration is open until September 1st! Prices are very affordable at only $17 per person! Also for the first time ever, we are offering HUGE discounts for any teams of 4 people or more. Any teams of 4 or more will be able to register at $12 per person until September 1st! BIG SAVINGS!!

Register at! Teams of 4 or more can email Jackie at to redeem the discount and get registered for this great event.

We look forward to seeing you Saturday, October 13th, 2018.

August 24th, 2018

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I would say about 75% of our meals are cooked on the grill during the summer and into the fall. Grilled food just has so much good flavor!

Tonight on the menu was grilled BBQ chicken, corn and broccoli! I am not going to lie, the kids were driving me crazy about dinner and even though they like BBQ chicken they had to throw a few moans and groans in there. I decided to do some natural chicken nuggets on the grill just to not deal with it. They actually turned out great!

Anyway, my new favorite vegetable to grill is broccoli. I throw it in a grilling wok with olive oil and Himalayan salt and the taste is undeniable! Even the broccoli haters will love it!

There is really nothing you can’t grill. We do pizza’s, meats, vegetables, and fruit all the time.

A fun dessert to grill is: Pineapple Sundaes!
• Grill rings of pineapple (fresh is best, canned just breaks apart to easily)
• Place a scoop of pineapple or coconut ice cream in the middle with a little drizzle of caramel sauce over the top! Pure Perfection!!

Have fun grilling and enjoy the rest of summer!

Kerra Pietsch, LPTA
Physical Therapist Assistant
Andover Physical Therapy

August 17th, 2018

Posted In: General

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If you are pregnant or postpartum and your stomach seems to be protruding more than normal, you may have a condition called diastasis recti. I know, it’s a mouthful! This condition affects approximately 30% of women in which the abdominal muscles widen causing the stomach to create a bulge. It’s very important to identify the condition so that you do not engage in any activities or exercises that may worsen the separation. There are a lot of questions women have when they have this condition. What exercises should I do to help? Is this something that happens to everyone and can you prevent it from occurring?

When Does Diastasis Recti Happen?
This is a condition that mostly only happens during pregnancy. It’s usually in either the second or third trimester and doesn’t happen to everyone. It happens when the muscles within the abdomen separate so the connective tissue stretches either side causing a bulge in the lower abdomen.

Are There Movements That You Need to Avoid??
Do not strain your stomach muscles by lifting heavy objects or when constipated.
Do NOT do exercises that utilize your upper abdominals such as sit ups, crunches, push ups or planks.

Don’t Panic!

One things is important is that you avoid panicking about the condition. Your doctor will keep an eye on your stomach muscles and will determine when more excessive treatment such as Physical Therapy is needed. Our pelvic floor specialists at our St. Francis location will create an individualized exercise program based on your needs to decrease risk of increased abdominal separation. They will guide you through exercises that are safe for the condition and will aim to strengthen your lower abdominal muscles. The Physical Therapy will educate you in proper technique with specific functional tasks, such as rolling, transferring, lifting and other tasks that require effort to decrease your risk of separation worsening.

Top Exercise for Diastasis Recti
The transversus abdominis is the deepest of the abdominal muscles and wraps around the abdomen between the lower ribs and top of the pelvis, functioning like a corset. We need to train this muscle before we strengthen it. The first step is to learn to isolate the muscle.

Lying on your back, bend both knees up, draw your belly button in and think about connecting or drawing the muscle, as if closing two book covers. You should feel the tension under your fingers when palpating your lower abdomen. Hold contraction for 5 sec while breathing normally. Repeat 10 times.

Kaitlyn Grell, LPTA
Physical Therapist Assistant
St. Francis Physical Therapy

August 8th, 2018

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As a Physical Therapist I get the question all of the time: “Should I use heat or should I use ice?”.  Both can be used for pain relief, but different mechanisms are used to achieve the end result. Here is a quick an easy break down of when to use heat vs. cold.


  • Heat increases blood flow by opening up blood vessels. Heat can also help relax tight muscles and decrease pain.
  • Heat should never be placed on an injury that is less than 3-4 days old. It is usually used for more persistent injuries.
  • Heat is more appropriate for persistent injuries such as tension headaches or chronic low back pain.
  • Heat should also never be used if there is swelling or bruising, as heat increases inflammation and will make swelling worse.
  • Heat should be applied for 15-20 minutes and never applied directly to the skin.  Use towels between the hot pack and skin to help prevent burns.
  • Wait at least an hour between treatments.
  • Check skin during treatment to avoid burns.
  • Do not use if you have poor circulation or poor sensation in the area due to increased risk of injury.


  • Ice decreases blood flow by constricting blood vessels. Ice can also be used to decrease swelling and inflammation, which can decrease pain.
  • Ice is used for acute injuries to decrease swelling and bruising.
  • Ice is appropriate for injuries such as post surgery, sprains, strain, bumps, burns, and bruises.
  • Ice can also be used to treat chronic conditions depending on the person’s preference.
  • Ice should be applied for 15-20 minutes and also should never be applied directly to the skin. Use a towel between the cold pack and skin to avoid frostbite.
  • Wait at least 1 hour between treatments.
  • Ice can be used in addition to elevation to help decrease swelling after acute injuries.

When in doubt it is usually safer to try ice first, if you do not see results then try heat. You can also alternate between heat and ice. Always make sure to wait at least 1 hour between each. Hopefully this helps you figure out whether heat or ice is more appropriate for your symptoms.

If you have more questions give us a call at 1-888-THERAPY and we will be happy to help!

Rebecca Varoga, PT, DPT
Physical Therapist
Isanti Physical Therapy

July 25th, 2018

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With summer in full swing, now is a great time to start a conversation about caffeine vs. water! No, this is not just another blog that is going to tell you to put your coffee down or dump out your pop. We understand that it takes time to change habits. Today we are just going to dive a little deeper to take a closer look at how caffeine and water effect our bodies.

Let’s first start by taking a look at our bodies (not literally, ha!). According to the US Geological Water Science School, the adult human body is comprised of 60% water. Let’s break that down even further. Below is the percentage of water our organs carry:

Brain and Heart: 73%
Lungs: 83%
Skin: 64%
Muscle and Kidneys: 79%
Bones 31%

That’s pretty incredible to think about! Water is essential to our health and well-being.

Here are just a few benefits of water:

  • Helps build our cells
  • Transports waste and nutrients throughout our body
  • Acts as a shock absorber for our brain, spinal cord and growing fetus’
  • Helps to lubricate our joints.
  • Boosts our immune system
  • Improves our complexion
  • Promotes healthy weight management

So what happens when we add caffeine to the mix?

Caffeine is a diuretic which means it removes water from your body which in turn has you taking more potty breaks. With caffeine having the effect of removing water from your body, this puts you at risk for dehydration. You may also not know, that caffeine is considered an addictive drug. When regularly consumed, it can cause you to be anxious, restless, jittery and can even increase your heart rate.

BUT, don’t let all this get you down. I think I can speak for many momma’s when I say that caffeine has its benefits! Research has shown that caffeine can help combat fatigue, improve memory, and potentially decrease the risk of some diseases. Good news RIGHT?!

So I promised I wasn’t going to tell you to dump out your favorite caffeinated beverage, but we do have a responsibility to take care of ourselves. With most things in life, balance is key. There is no denying that our bodies function best when we are well hydrated, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up your morning coffee or give up mixing your favorite caffeinated cocktail. What we need to do is figure out how to balance it all.

So how do we do that? It really depends on you! If you are a person who consumes a lot of caffeine but are ready to make a change, start slow by cutting back 1 beverage a day. You can also follow the recommendation to add a cup of water for every cup of caffeinated drink you consume. This can help you stay hydrated.

For those of you who have a hard time getting your daily water intake (GUILTY!)… Set goals for yourself and always be sure to keep a water bottle close by. A great rule of thumb is to aim to consume half of your body weight in fluid ounces of water. For example, someone who is 160lbs should consume 80oz of water in a day. But again, start small, set a goal and you will be sure to succeed!

We hope you found this informative and helpful. Post a comment below with your water intake goal and you will be entered in a drawing to win a FREE water bottle!

Jackie Giese, LPTA
Physical Therapist Assistant
Community Outreach Coordinator
Physical Therapy Consultants, Inc.

July 19th, 2018

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Can you believe the 4th of July has already come and gone? !! We grill all year round but there is something about grilling on a beautiful summer night. Summer is a time for good food and good company sitting put on the patio watching all the kids run around having fun!

Every year for the 4th, we do a neighborhood get together before we all head out for fireworks. This year instead of the usual hamburger and hotdog, we had kebobs! They are easy and healthy way to load up on your veggies and fruit!

The nice thing about kebobs is there is no right way! Pick your favorite meats (steak, chicken, shrimp, etc. or no meat at all) and veggies and assemble how you like, grill and enjoy. I typically do chunks of chicken, steak, green, red, yellow peppers, zucchini, mushrooms, onion, and pineapple. The other nice thing about kebobs, is you don’t need the added calories of sauces. I usually just lightly salt and pepper the meat and let all the natural flavors cook together.

For some 4th of July fun assemble blue berries, strawberries and banana into the American flag! It’s was festive and healthy!

Have a happy and healthy rest of your summer!


Kerra Pietach, LPTA
Physical Therapist Assistant
Andover Physical Therapy

July 11th, 2018

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