Stretching workshop with Pilates Studio of Bellingham

Clear your calendar and save the date!!
The Pilates Studio of Bellingham is offering a one-day stretch workshop on November 8th, 8:30-2:30. This is a great opportunity to learn stretching techniques from 2 of Bellingham’s best, Maria and Geoffrey Knight. Call the studio to register, 360-527-8663 more class info is below:

“Come one, come all you Stretch Therapy fans! Here is the date for the six plus hour Posture & Stretch Therapy (PST) workshop at The Pilates Studio of Bellingham…Saturday, November 8, 8:30 a.m. – 2:30-ish p.m.
This workshop is for everyone, whether you have done Stretch Therapy with us or not.

Here’s the lowdown:

Saturday, November 8, 8:30 a.m. – 2:30-ish p.m. (do allow a little wiggle room for running over, which we tend to do).
Cost: $90 (including Washington State sales tax)
Bring water and little snack if you like. We will break for lunch as well.
Wear non-restrictive layered clothing. We strongly recommend wearing a pair of tights under your outer layer to keep your core temperature up (very important).
No refunds or credits extended once payment is made, so please make sure the date works for you. Sorry, no exceptions.


The game plan:
We will cover the hip series (quadriceps, hamstrings, psoas, piriformis); adductors long & short; gastrocnemius & soles, aka calf; ribcage stretches, for example, gate stretch, side bend/quadratus lumborum, supported back bend and/or thoracic extension (“sweet surrender”); the shoulder girdle to include pec minor, biceps, and rotator cuffs; the entire neck series (upper trapezius, scaliness, sub occipitals, and the ever troublesome levator scapula); the feet/ankle series; and the hand/wrists series. The “rod of correction” will most certainly make an appearance for fascia work on the calf, quadriceps, adductors, piriformis. And finally, after all these magical stretches, we will end with your Moment of Zen, approximately thirty minutes of guided relaxation/meditation where you may then integrate the whole experience.
The time will go by much faster than you think. The benefit to doing a long session like this every now and again is the total body experience. Please do not think you have to be in the “athlete” category to do this. This workshop has nothing to with intensity, pain and suffering. It has everything to do with liberation, breathability, movement around joints, education, self-awareness and joy…simple, pure joy.
If you would like to register, a separate email will follow this one with the registration form. Please fill out the form and mail or bring it in with your payment. If you do not have a printer, we’d be happy to provide a form for you. Advanced registration is required so we know how many to expect. Payment reserves your spot. Check or cash only…sorry, no credit cards.
Once again, ***Please, please make sure the date works for you because once payment is made, there can be no refunds or credits extended, sorry, no exceptions.
We so love doing these workshops/extended classes and sincerely hope to see your lovely face.

in peace and love,
Maria & Geoffrey

The Pilates Studio of Bellingham
907 Harris Ave. Suite 201
Bellingham, WA 98225

Reflections, ramblings, and musing from 20 years as a PT

June 4th, 1994, Bill Clinton was President, Monica was rockin’ the beret and I had just graduated from PT school, armed with an arsenal of manual therapy weapons, ready to be unleashed on unsuspecting patients. I hit the ground running with boundless energy and optimism. Then the reality of being a manual therapist in a world of ultrasounds quickly pulled the wind out of my sails. Being a manual therapist at that time was like being a beef eater in India: out of luck and definitely in the minority.

Without the safe confines of my mentors from PT school, I floundered. I was like the young kid at the mall who lost his mom, except I didn’t look nearly as cute sitting on the floor of the clinic crying for my teachers. Nonetheless, like any dedicated, well-educated manual therapist, I realized I had only one choice: I quit manual therapy and enjoyed a short lived romance with ultrasound and electrical stimulation. We made a great match and I was happy again….for about 2 days. Then a tidal wave of boredom swept over me and I hate to admit it, but my eyes wandered. I thought about changing professions, take up photography? How about the UPS guy, I wear brown all the time anyway? One year in to my profession and my passionate PT flame was burned out and only ashes remained.

At my darkest hour, when things looked the bleakest, (I put all this drama in here just to get my sister, Nina, to roll her eyes about now if she’s even read this far) the clouds cleared and I found another mentor, Dr. Rex “Bear” Loren, DO. Bear was like a beacon in a thick patch of fog, guiding us through dangerous waters with the knowledge, expertise, and most importantly, the confidence to do things just bit differently. For the next ten glorious years, Elizabeth and I took 3-4 classes per year, engaging in lively discussions about the complexity of the body and enjoying the company of liked minded individuals. Had I known then how lonely the road of manual therapy would be at times, I think I would have appreciated those weekend classes even more.

The 20 year journey and ramblings will continue soon……be safe, Ed.

“Into the Stretch” workshop with Kit Laughlin

We are very excited to be joining Maria and Geoffrey Knight of the Pilates Studio of  Bellingham  in hosting Kit Laughlin Sept 12-14, 2014 for his “Into the Stretch” workshop.  More information regarding registration for the course can be found at   The class is open to everyone and come prepared to take your flexibility to the next level!


Ed Deboo, PT

Attention Golfers!

Fore! Golfing on a beautiful, sunny Pacific Northwest Day in Bellingham is a great activity to keep a person active and healthy. But have you ever swung your golf club only to get a “kink” in your back? A recent study showed that low back pain is the number one injury sustained by golfers. These symptoms typically develop over time and can be due to faulty mechanics throughout the golf swing. To prevent these symptoms and allow for continued enjoyment of your golf game this summer, try some of these helpful tips.


  1. Have your clubs fit to your body specifications. Golf clubs that are too big or too small can lead to faulty swing mechanics therefore increasing your risk for injury, or an unsuccessful golf game!
  2. Play consistently (nothing like having the reasoning of “My physical therapist said I should play more!”)
  3. Push your cart instead of pulling. Pushing allows you to maintain better alignment of your back and shoulders, therefore reducing risk of injury.
  4. If not using a cart, use the dual straps on your golf club bag instead of a single strap. The dual straps distribute force more evenly across both shoulders.
  5. Use a longer putter which may decrease the strain on your low back throughout your golf game.
  6. Stay active with other forms of exercise, including a strong core exercise routine. The core muscles (consisting of your abdominals, low back, and pelvic floor muscles) are constantly used during the golf swing and if weak and fatigued, compensatory muscles that assist the core muscles are also at a higher risk for fatigue and injury. Excellent core exercises include the plank, side plank, bridges, and bird-dog.  Not sure how to do these exercises?  Talk to your Physical Therapist for more details.


Following some of these helpful hints will ensure an enjoyable and pain-free summer of golfing. See you on the course!

Brandis Graves, PT



Pedaling for Parkinson’s: How riding a bike can help control Parkinson’s Disease symptoms

Parkinson’s Disease is a progressive neurological disease that results in the degeneration of neurons in the brain that help to control movement. This leads to a reduction in the amount of dopamine produced, a neurotransmitter, which in turn cause the movement impairments that characterize the disease. Commonly seen symptoms in Parkinson’s patients include stooped posture, forward head, shuffling gait pattern, tremors, rigidity, and sleep disorders. However,there is hope! Exercise to the rescue again…read on:

In 2003 Dr. Jay Alberts, a researcher at Cleveland Clinic, was riding across Iowa on a bike trip well known in the Midwest as Ragbrai. He was cycling with Cathy Frazier who had previously been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD). While on the trip, Cathy and Dr. Alberts noticed that her penmanship, which was previously illegible due to PD had become much larger and more legible. In addition Cathy stated “for this week it did not feel like I had Parkinson’s”. Upon completion of the bike trip, Dr. Alberts retested Cathy’s motor system and the results showed a 35% decrease in the disease rating scale as compared to 6 months earlier. This finding led Dr. Alberts to begin researching the effects that exercise, specifically cycling, can have on motor function in individuals with PD. This research led to the finding that a cadence of 80-90 RPM (revolutions per minute) for 40 minutes, 3 times per week can decrease symptoms by 35%. These findings led to the development of the Pedaling for Parkinson’s Program. This cycling program is slowly being started at YMCA’s around the country to enable those with PD to have a monitored exercise program.

What can this mean for you or someone you know with PD? The research supports that high intensity cycling with these parameters helps for symptom management with a cumulative effect. This information continues to emphasize the importance of exercise, regardless of circumstance!

To learn more about Pedaling for Parkinson’s, click on the link below.  

Have a great day,

Brandis Graves,Physical Therapist, Bellingham, WA

I tore my meniscus, now what?

The Front Row, with Ed!

Welcome to the Front Row: an ongoing series of blogs and videos designed to educate and empower you to take control of your health and life. Today’s topic: What’s my meniscus and I think I tore it

The weather’s finally coming around and you’re out playing softball. You hit a sharp single, but you think you can stretch it out to a double (because you were fast in high school, 25 years ago).  Anyway you round first with visions of grandeur, but your knee twists awkwardly and you feel a pop followed by a deep burning sensation in your knee.  Your first thought is “can I still get to second, may have to slide, but that’s OK, more dramatic and makes for a better story during wings and beers after the game”.  However, your knee has other ideas as the pain now makes you stop in your tracks.  The game stops as you are clearly injured (and out, by the way) and you limp off the field.  Your moment of grandeur is on temporary hold.

You start the medical carousal and end up with the diagnosis of a meniscus tear. To simplify the function of the meniscus, they serve as the shock absorbing structures between the femur and the tibia (you should know what bones I’m talking about and if you don’t, you should be embarrassed) and are also essential in the overall joint stability and lubrication.  Bottom line: you want as much of your meniscus as you can keep.  In the past, the torn part was cut out and back to life you went.  However, better surgery techniques and improved sutures have made repairs much more feasible and desirable to prevent early degenerative changes of the knee.    Below I have outlined a sample protocol after a meniscal repair to help you understand the phases of rehab and to give you a timetable of return to functional activities. Please remember, if you do have surgery, your physician should give you very detailed instructions and timelines based on your particular tear and magnitude.

Phase 1: post op weeks 1-4

1.       Early protection phase, limited ROM from 0-90 degrees as to not stress the meniscus repair

2.       Control inflammation, swelling, and mobilize the patella to minimize tracking issues.

3.       Ambulation with crutches and the knee in a brace locked in full extension. You can slowly wean yourself from the crutches to full weight bearing.

4.       Exercises include but are not limited to straight leg raises, heel slides, isometric quad and hamstring sets and upper extremity cardiovascular exercises.

5.       Exercises are usually performed 2-3 times per day.

6.       Early single leg balance activities with the brace locked in full extension.

Phase 2: Post op weeks 5-9

1.       Working towards resuming normal “activities of daily living” by normalizing gait pattern, regaining full ROM, increasing strength and stability, and increased endurance.

2.       Exercises include but are not limited to partial squats to 60 degrees if pain free, strength training on a stationary bike and continued higher level balance activities.

Phase 3: post op weeks 10-16

1.       Should have full ROM without pain, start interval jogging program without pain or compensation

2.       Start entry level sports specific exercises to go along with higher level strength, balance, and coordination exercises.

Phase 4: post op 16 weeks and beyond

1.       Should be able to start cutting and pivoting on grass surfaces if strength of involved leg is at 90% or greater of the uninvolved leg.

2.       Higher level sports specific agility exercises in a controlled environment

3.       Phase back in to sports if all goals have been met in respect to strength, balance, and ROM.

Advances in surgical techniques have made return from meniscal repair very successful if precautions are taken early in the rehab process to protect the repair and minimize stress on the meniscus.  As always, your comments and any questions are always welcome:   and please keep the sharp single a single!



The importance of diaphragmatic or “belly” breathing

Take a Deep Breath!

It is easy to get caught up in the stress and busyness of everyday life, so it is important to remind ourselves to slow down and take a few deep breaths. Doing so not only helps to relieve stress, but also results in physiologic changes that are good for our body.

Many of us are shallow breathers, meaning we breathe with our upper chest and sometimes neck muscles. This can become problematic long term and can lead to tightness in some muscles, weakness in others. This is when diaphragmatic breathing becomes so important. This breathing technique utilizes the diaphragm muscle, the lower part of the rib cage, and spine. Shallow breathing can lead to low back pain and result in compromise in the stability of the spine while diaphragmatic breathing can result in improved rib and spinal mobility, leading to decreased pain, as well as a decrease in heart rate and blood pressure.

To take a diaphragmatic breath and ensure correct technique, lay on your back and place your hands on your lower rib cage. As you inhale, breathe in through your nose and envision pushing the rib cage out into your hands, expanding your abdomen and rib region. During exhale, breathe out through your mouth and contract the muscles in your abdomen and rib cage, forcing the air out of your abdominal region. Repeat.

This technique has many health benefits so throughout the day, take a moment and remember to breathe!

Youth basketball and weight training: is it safe?


Basketball season is upon us and that means many parents now find themselves at the helm of their child’s basketball team. Most competitive athletes are looking for methods to become more explosive, jump higher, and increase their speed.  Well, look no further than the weight room!  Early teenage years are a great time to introduce them to the advantages of the weight room and the benefits of strength training.

Research has shown that youth as young as 11-13 y.o. can benefit from a 2 x week in season training program to go along with their regular basketball training without taxing their developing musculoskeletal system.  Most youth teams practice 2 x per week and could perform another 2 x per week of basic strength training to improve explosive upper and lower body strength.    The focus should be on multi-joint movements and form over amount of weight should be stressed. Below is a sample weight lifting program based on a 10 week season:

  1. Squats or leg press
  2. Bench press
  3. Assisted Pull ups/lat pull downs
  4. Overhead shoulder press
  5. Medicine ball toss (simulate a chest pass)
  6. Plyometric exercises: jump rope/box jumps.

Work volume:  Weeks 1-3: 2 sets of 10-12 reps         Weeks 4-10: 3 sets of 10-12 reps

Machines vs Free weights

Machines may be a good choice in the beginning as most young adolescents may not have ever lifted weights before and machines would be a great introduction to strength training.  However, after they have become accustomed to the weight room and the machines, slowly phase in dumb bells and barbells as they are more functional and require greater motor control.

Coaches can do a great service to their young athletes by exposing them to resistance training at an early age so it hopefully becomes part of their long term athletic development.

Let me know if you have any questions,

Good luck!

Ed Deboo, PT

Just out of breath or could it be Exercise Induced Asthma?

When I was young, I enjoyed athletic activities but was unable to participate for prolonged periods of time because I “could not breathe.” As hard as I tried to train and practice, my limiting factor was always the inability to catch my breath. After having a severe attack, I was taken to a specialist who diagnosed me with Exercise Induced Asthma (EIA). What was EIA? Could I still participate in so many of the activities I enjoyed? These are questions that, as a young adolescent, concerned me and as research on EIA has progressed over the years I have found the results of many of these studies to show that EIA in adolescent athletes is more prevalent than originally thought.

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Do you have BBS? “Burning Back Syndrome”

Yes, I just made that up. We have a syndrome for everything else, why not “burning back”? It’s catchy, rhythmical, and it conjures up a powerful image and it’s totally fictional. However, it leads me to this question: ever have achy or burning lower back muscles that only get better after you lie down or rest? If so, read on….

I just finished a very informative book by Dr. Stuart McGill, PhD, a professor at the University of Waterloo, about lower back disorders and performance. An important concept he discussed that I thought was very applicable to most of us was one of “capacity and tolerance” as it relates to lower back.

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