People receiving therapy

Are You Ready for a REVOLUTION in Pain Care?

June, 2016

Ready for a REVOLUTION in Pain Care?

I am! I have just completed my five month training to be a Certified Therapeutic Pain Specialist (certification pending a passing grade for my final project 🙂 ), and I’m on fire! What my therapists and I are already experiencing with our patients is that the new science of pain has given us the missing piece to help our patients significantly decrease and sometimes even resolve their long-term pain issues.

My team and I will be sharing pain stories and insights that we’re experiencing in our clinic. Our hope is to help as many other people as possible experience LESS PAIN and MORE LIFE!

A few pearls I’ve learned:

1. Pain is NORMAL: We have become a culture that tends to over-react to pain and rush to medications, x-rays and rest, when often all that is needed is a little time, consistent but safe movement and knowing that healing happens. The body is amazing in this way 😀 .
2. Acute pain (1-3+ months) can predict chronic pain (pain that lasts longer than 3-6 months). Manage the healing after injury well, and avoid the experience of pain for months or even years.
3. X-rays, images and other scans and tests only show a piece of the pain puzzle. Just because someone shows a bulging disc, arthritis, curves in their spine, shoulder or knee issues, does not always mean that is the only cause of pain. Studies show that 30-50% of people without pain will have x-rays and MRI’s that have “issues” that we usually believe should cause pain but don’t.
4. Our old bio-mechanical model of diagnosing and trying to “fix” pain is not as effective after the acute healing phase is over. Tissues HEAL – so what’s going on when the pain continues?
5. When fear of any kind (fear of the diagnosis, fear of finances, family issues, etc), is part of the pain picture, the nervous system can over-react to the pain and create more pain and sensitivity.

The program that has provided me the opportunity to delve deeper into the pain science is the International Spine and Pain Institute (ISPI). I was first introduced to their revolutionary way of viewing pain at an “Explain Pain” class in 2008 and have followed their work, writings and teachings ever since. There is a small group of teachers, therapists and researchers around the world that are complete pain-nerds. They look in every nook and cranny to review or create the research to help us all understand our bodies and our responses to pain better. To this end, they have created a system of working with people in pain that works!

The foundation of what we do to help people in pain starts with teaching them about pain and why their nervous system got so reactive and sensitive in the first place. For many it started with an injury or sudden back-strain. For others, it started gradually, as in many cases of fibromyalgia.

Stay tuned for upcoming information and classes to help support YOU, your friends and family in living an enjoyable life with less (or no) pain!

In Health,

AKS Signature


For a Healthy New Year…

December, 2015

How about taking a break? A break from something that may be bringing you down. It could be a food, electronics, shopping, or too much sitting. Eliminating something unhealthy from your life, even for a brief time can help you feel better, strengthen you will-power and help you start off on the right foot for a healthier year.


For me, I’m doing an extreme break from sugar, which includes alcohol for 6 months. I invite you to find your own guilty-pleasure and determine the amount of time that is doable for you and join me.

There is a reason behind my “madness”. On January 11th I am beginning a 6 month intensive program to (more…)


Gratitude 11/23/15

November, 2015

As we head into the busy holiday season, there is much to be grateful for. As I reflect on 2015, my experience with hip surgery created an opportunity me to grow as a physical therapist. The unexpected changes that happen when running a small business also provide on-going oppoGratitudertunities for growth.

However, not every experience is initially met with excitement for this opportunity. In fact, when faced with challenges, my first response is often, “Oh no, not now!” Many transitions have occurred within my practice over the last several years, and there have been times where I’ve wondered how many more changes I can realistically deal with.

Yet, here I am, looking back at the growth, strength and resiliency that these changes have brought. Each time I’ve been confronted with an unexpected change, I have a choice. Do I wallow in “why me?” and become a victim of the challenges of running a business? (Especially one in our complex health system). Or, do I take a deep breath, settle into the moment, and allow myself to see things clearly.

For me, clear-seeing is realizing that I am surrounded by amazing people, employees and patients who (more…)


Movement – For a long and healthy life! 8/29/15

August, 2015

I’m 4+ months post hip surgery and thrilled with the outcome. We got to get away to the coast earlier this month (Gleneden Beach) and I was thrilled with what I was able to do. Unsure of how my hip would respond to the sand, I started with some short walks on the beach. These short walks progressed to longer and longer walks, an amazing and intense uphill hike towards Cascade Head in Neskowin, and eventually trying some pickle ball. Although my body was sore and stiff (normal for my age and previous inactivity) my hip did GREAT! I can’t express how thrilled and relieved I am!081515Gleneden-Beach-(Blog)

My mom was able to join us for a few days while we were there. Mom and I have a wonderful relationship. We thoroughly enjoy each others company and she’s been my life-long sounding board for all of the ups and downs that are a normal part of life. However, since PT school, I’ve been trying to encourage her to increase her physical activity level. She loves her garden, occasionally does Tai Chi and has attended some classes off and on at the Senior Center (she lives in Bend too!) and she is very conscientious about her diet. Unfortunately, she has never been able to prioritize her physical health.

I see this in many of my patients as well. We can get away with using our bodies for several decades without really attending to them. Yet as we age, if we don’t maintain some strength, flexibility and endurance, there is a point where (more…)


3-Dimentional Walking-7/19/15

July, 2015

I finally got to go out and challenge myself by walking on a trail a couple of weeks ago. I wouldn’t be so bold as to call it “hiking” quite yet, but it did add a whole new dimension to my rehab – as I had hoped it would!

Ali HikeKnowing that we are three-dimensional creatures with bodies designed for 3-D surfaces, I looked forward to this new opportunity to strengthen my hip in this very functional way. What I wasn’t expecting is all of the protective patterns my body created in order to protect me from injury.

Again and again, as I walked around rocks and roots, I would notice myself tensing unnecessarily. Fortunately I know enough about body awareness and self-listening that I was able to notice this tension and release it. I suspect that many people who have experienced pain and/or surgery end up unconsciously creating muscular tension in various parts of their body. I see this all of the time in the clinic: People who had an injury years ago, who still hold themselves away from the painful area, in order to avoid pain that may (or may not be) long gone.

For myself, I tend to hold myself tight in the ribs under my armpits, across my chest, with a coinciding restriction of my breath. As I walked, I would (more…)


Walking with Awareness 06-29-2015

June, 2015

I love to walk! Although my exercise regime prior to hip pain included more jogging than walking, this was only because I could wake up, put my shoes on, and get in some cardio work in just 30 minutes – so it fit my impulse for efficiency. Since I had to stop running 2+ years ago I’ve been able to refocus my time and mental curiosity on the mechanics of walking.Walk with Aw

As I gradually increase my walking tolerance (post surgery), it’s been fun to reconnect with my body as walking is a great way to feel how everything is connected. Being a “flat footed” person has given me plenty of opportunity to explore how my unconscious flat-footed tendency affects my movements and compare how adjustments towards a stronger, more supportive use of my feet provide strength and stability throughout the rest of my body. (more…)


The Gift of Instability 06/22/2015

June, 2015

My return to seeing patients at the office and keeping up with my therapy has kept me busy. I’ve also been able to reflect on the many lessons I am learning and the metaphor that the instability in my hip provides for the unexpected events that have created a sense of instability in other parts of my life.Juggling-work-on-unicycle[1]

I have cautiously paced my walking routine, knowing and feeling how my hip lacks stability. I walk only as far as I feel I can safely while feeling into my ability to support myself on my right leg without potentially over-doing-it and setting myself back. I hear stories every day from my patients about their efforts to comply with their physical therapy program along with all of the ways that life gets in the way and either slows their progress or creates a set-back.

In my own search for stability in my leg and in my life, I’ve had the opportunity to put many past lessons to use, providing perspective and hopefully, more growth. I am a (more…)


Off and … Well, walking slowly! 05/31/2015

May, 2015


I saw the doctor last Tuesday and whoopee – I get to put full weight on my leg! I can progress off cruWalkingtches as quickly as my leg allows without limping – what a relief. I admit, I was concerned that the doctor would want me to continue with some weight-bearing limitations, especially since I begin my full schedule of patients next week. Luckily I’ve had all week to gradually explore and progress the return of support from my right leg.

I was also released for driving, which was another huge relief! I cautiously drove around the block the following day before trying a full trip into town, and it was a simple as getting on a bicycle. Whew!

I tried my first unsupported (no crutches) step in the doctor’s office which caused my knee to buckle as it forgot how to support my weight. This actually created (more…)


Silly Me… 05/22/2015

May, 2015

In anticipation of my 6 week mark (next week), a lot of things have occurred to me. I have been really looking forward to getting to walk and exercise, but in the past couple of weeks it dawned on me, that one doesn’t just go from touch-down-weight-bearing to full weight bearing in one fell swoop!

I had been holding this image for myself: AnticipationSee the doctor, get released for full weight bearing, the clouds part and angels sing, I drop my crutches and viola! I’m walking! And exercising, and back to work, and driving, etc.  Then it dawned on me. (more…)


Who’s driving who crazy? 05/20/2015

May, 2015

One of the things I didn’t realize would be so complicated is not driving. Since it’s my right hip, and a sudden braking could cause pressure into the hip joint, I’m not able to drive myself anywhere.Driver

As usual, Scott is a saint – plus I have help from a number of other sources: My Mother, Father, Mother-in-Law and son, Joshua all live nearby and have been gracious assistants.  However, I do try to schedule everything at one time for going into town to avoid too many trips.  We live about (more…)