Holiday Gratitude

Ho Ho Ho! Happy Holidays!   From flickr rumpleteaser.
Ho Ho Ho! Happy Holidays! From flickr user rumpleteaser.

Alive Physical Therapy is so grateful to have found a home here in Nevada County.  The community has embraced us, and we are honored to foster health and joy with the NEST, Nevada City.  We would like to thank every one of you, and your families who have joined us on a path to healing, and enjoy a more energetic home, work, family, and sex life.  It is your enthusiasm and sharing how Alive Physical Therapy has improved your life that keeps us growing.  Your online reviews of our services do make a difference and help spread health to those that are in need.  Thank you for allowing us to participate in your healthcare.  Getting better is truly a joint effect and we wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for you.

What are you grateful for this year? Living and expressing gratitude create tremendous positive health effects.  We know that folks who consistently practice gratitude enjoy a stronger immune system, lower blood pressure, and feel more positive feeling such as joy, optimism, and happiness.  People who feel grateful report acting with more generosity and feel less lonely. The winter holidays are a time for togetherness with  loved ones and celebrate gratitude for our lives, the ending of the year, new beginnings.

As our thanks to you we want to invite all current clients to join our exercise classes on us until the first week of the New Year!  Holiday classes have shifted Post-Natal Fit with Baby from Wednesday to Tuesday 10-11am.  Catch your last Hula Hoop Class this thursday after stuffing your bellies!  We are overjoyed to announce our new Core Power class on Tuesdays from noon to 1pm at the NEST classroom.  This class is appropriate for everyone from pregnant moms, to athletes, and retirees.  Start the new year right with a strong and flexible body!

Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year!




Prenatal Perspectives Class at The Nest

This past Monday, Physical Therapist Mags Matthews of Alive Physical Therapy taught a community education event at The Nest, entitled Prenatal Perspectives. In this class, moms-to-be and their partners learned simple exercises to keep their bodies injury-free before, during, and after pregnancy.

The class focused on two muscle groups: the pelvic floor and the deep core.

The pelvic floor serves many functions, including controlling bowel movements and urination. Through easy-to-grasp explanations, Mags taught the class how to engage these muscles. We learned of problems that can occur both from the pelvic floor being too weak (pelvic organ prolapse, incontinence) and too tight (pain from nerve pinching, muscle knots).

The Transversus Abdominis Muscle

The deep core, or transversus abdominis, is critical for many body functions, including helping to push the baby out during birth. The deep core is used to stabilize the rest of the body. It is the deepest layer of abdominal muscle. The class also learned how to engage this muscle.

The tricky part that all class participants seemed to grasp by the end of the class was how to engage the pelvic floor and the deep core together and independently. Creating an awareness and connection with these muscles — muscles which many people do not actively think of — is critical, especially for pregnant women.

By intentionally engaging these muscles and maintaining good form, women can avoid injury during routine daily tasks like getting out of bed, and lifting the baby from their cribs or the floor. In this class, participants learned and practiced such techniques. Women who have given birth in the past two years are at higher risk for injury during these and other activities, due to the trauma these areas (abdomen and pelvis) have gone through during pregnancy and child birth.

Physical changes take place in the woman’s body during pregnancy and birth. Hormones such as relaxin cause pelvic ligaments to stretch. Posture can change due to the center of gravity shifting. And even the gait can change. Maintaining a healthy and strong pelvis and core can reduce the chances of injury, such as diastasis recti, which is the separating of the left and right halves of the topmost abdominal muscle. The exercises covered in this class can also help to recover from already sustained injuries.

Mags Matthews teaches Postnatal Baby and Me Fitness class at The Nest every Wednesday from 10am – 11am. In this class you can learn many of these exercises discussed here so you can have a happier and healthier pregnancy and postpartum period.

This class taught by Mags is part of a series of Prenatal Perspectives classes taught by several practitioners at The Nest, and repeated three times per year. There is one class per month, and you don’t need to start at the beginning.

Reblog: Much More to Healing Post-Partum Than Baby Weight- WSJ

Creative Commons image by duncan
Pregnant Family


Women who have just delivered a baby are worried about their child, their parenting skills, and how to take off “baby weight.”  Often the soft belly that never quite looks the same again is NOT fat,  it’s a split in the abdominal muscles.  Medically known as diastisis recti, or for lay people “Mummy Tummy” requires specific care to heal properly. If you do hundreds of sit-ups to try to tighten the abs, the bulge will get worse, and it may not go away!  I often treat women in the 50’s and 60’s who still have a diastasis recti.

The Wall Street Journal recently covered the many medical concerns that new moms and dads may not be thinking about, and when left untreated, may lead to more serious health effects.  Scar tissue, alignment, pelvic and back pain, incontinence, and mummy tummy are all discussed. They give some great advice about what to look out for, and when to seek treatment.  Coming up in a future post, I will discuss some tricks for self- treatment and how to avoid making things worse!

I’m so glad that I can teach new moms how to safely strengthen their bodies in Post-Natal Fit with Baby. Together we have the opportunity to heal and prevent further injury by improving the strength and alignment we have NOW.

Here’s the link to the article!  Wall Street Journal “Bigger Post-Partum Challenges than Baby Weight”


Is it OK to Leak Urine?

photo by Maegan Tintari
Many people suffer from leaking. Act early for a solution! Photo by Maegan Tintari

With the expensive costs of incontinence pads, adult diapers, soiled clothing, and social stigma, a better question would be, Are you OK with leaking urine?  If you suffer from urinary incontinence you are not alone. An estimated 25-51% of all women have leaked once in the last year, and 17-32% of women are leaking regularly with percentages increasing with age. Even though many women suffer from a weak bladder, you don’t need to live with it!


Recently extreme intensity workouts like Cross-Fit are glorifying leaking.  While leaking is common in some circles, it is NEVER normal.  For a doctor to accept leaking or merely suggest pads does their patient a disservice.  Leaking urine is treatable with conservative measures.  The sooner you accept that leaking is a problem, and act to heal your pelvis, the more effective the treatments can be.  The longer you wait, the worse the problem will get, and incontinence increases with age.

The truth is urinary incontinence is just a symptom of a system out of balance.  The pelvic floor works with the muscles of the abdomen, back, diaphragm and hips to give stability to your “core.” Ideally these muscles are all strong and automatically work together to help us, run, jump, push, throw, stand, and not leak.  If any of these muscles work without their pelvic floor partner you will leak.  For instance, some women in Cross-Fit override their normal core balance by bearing down on their abdominal muscles which makes them leak with jumping rope, and heavy lifting. People with breathing disorders like asthma, or chronic coughing have a higher incidence of pelvic floor problems as well. When muscles or the deep core are out of balance we end up with increased chances of injury to our entire body, pain or decreased sensation with sex, pain or weakness with movement, constipation, all sorts of pain, and yes, incontinence too.

Leaking can occur with increased abdominal pressure. Stress incontinence describes leaking urine when you cough, sneeze, or jump. If you leak with a sudden urge to go to the restroom that is called urge incontinence.  Sometimes people may have both stress and urge incontinence known as mixed incontinence.  Other urinary symptoms may include feeling urgency without leaking, or feeling the need to urinate frequently (6-7x daily is normal for most people.) Urinary urgency and frequency are often dysfunctions of the pelvic floor that can be trained out.

Urinary incontinence may result from bladder dysfunction, sphincter dysfunction, both, or nervous system dysfunction. The pelvic floor muscles may be either too weak or too tight to effectively close the urethral sphincter. For women the weight of pregnancy is the major cause incontinence.  All that baby weight pushing on the pelvic organs can weaken ligaments and muscles that normally keep you continent and your organs in place.  For men and those that have never been pregnant being overweight, chronic cough and constipation put extra pressure on the pelvic organs and pelvic floor.  Pelvic surgery, especially prostatectomy can have damaging effects. Take a look at the image above, all the pelvic organs are very close together, it’s easy to understand that pressure from any one place can affect leaking.

In Pelvic Physical Therapy, we look at the whole system of your body.  We first mobilize restricted areas, and support the body parts that need a break. Then we retrain the pelvic floor muscles with specific biofeedback guided exercise.  We progress exercise to activities that you are doing on a regular basis to improve carryover. We also educate patients about postures and behaviors that might be making things worse.  Up to 40% of women are unable to correctly engage their pelvic floor when doing kegels.  You need some more direction and help, and as pelvic PTs we can provide it.    Need to find a pelvic physical therapist in your area?  Try the American Physical Therapy Association. Search the website “Find a PT” and the specialty of “Women’s Health” for all pelvic therapy treatments.

To get back the the first question: Yes! It is ok to leak, and no one should fee shame or hide that they are suffering.  No, you don’t have to live with it.  Medical help is available.  Physical therapy is a great conservative first step, then if you need extra help your doctor can discuss options such as medications, surgery, or supportive devices to find a solution.

Have more questions?  Email us, or call to set up your free consultation.

“Best of Health” on KVMR 89.5FM: Pelvic Pain


kvmr_nophotoopLast Thursday,  Best of Health  featured Mags Matthews, PT, speaking on pelvic health, physical therapy treatment and Mayan Abdominal Massage.  Unfortunately if you missed the show, there are no podcasts or rebroadcasts scheduled.  However we will highlight some of the discussion in this blogpost!

Host Arly Helm, MS, IBCLC (Certified Lactation Consultant) and Mags discussed the many ailments that women or men may suffer from while not knowing that conservative treatments may offer hope and relief.  Mags specializes in pelvic physical therapy, treating diagnoses diverse as prenatal and post-partum discomfort, prostatitis, incontinence, constipation, urgency/frequency, prolapse, and pelvic pain.  She also treats the wellness end of health for injury prevention, fertility support, and fitness.

Pelvic pain drives many physicians to believe that pelvic organs are the source of pain with fibroids, endometriosis, interstitial cystitis (inflammation of the bladder lining) or prostatitis.  Sometimes the pain goes away, and sometimes it comes back, or there is no relief at all. When pain persists every after removal of pelvic organs, we know that the organs were not the culprit. (1)

Myofascial pain, or dysfunction in the muscles and connective tissue, may cause pain in genitals, abdomen, back, buttocks, and upper thighs.  Conversely, when you experience pain in any part of your body, the muscles tend to tighten up. Just like you can get “knots” in your neck, the muscles of your pelvis may develop painful “knots” of trigger points that often refer pain to other areas. When trigger points persist for months or years, and after sometime, the tissue actually changes. Trigger points may be so tight that the muscle tissue are unable get proper nutrition, or remove waste. The body tries to “scar over” the painful area, much like a sore blister develops a callous.  This hardened area may develop adhesions that stick to other tissues and organs, and create more pain. Adhesions and trigger points may cause tension on nerves going to the pelvis, and trigger points within muscles of the pelvic floor, hips, abdomen, and back. can also refer pain to other areas of the pelvis. It can become a vicious cycle of pain, making patients unable to sit, stand, have intercourse with their spouses, work, or take care of themselves and their families.
Pelvic pain? We can help.

Physical therapy disrupts the pain cycle to restore your body to an energetic work, family, and sex life.  We works first on the trigger points, mobilizing tight areas, and stabilizing over-loose areas. Then we retrain the pelvic and deep core muscles to do the job they are intended to do- to relax and contract at the right times, during the right activities.  We work with patients to identify what environmental or behavioral activities contribute to pain, like a bad chair, always holding a baby on one side or straining to have a bowel movement. If pain worsens when you are stressed, then stress management is imperative to staying out of pain.  And every time your body is out of pain, the tissues are allowed to heal.  Once pain levels are consistently low or gone, we can manage from a wellness and prevention model to get you back to the activities you love to do.

If you have pelvic pain with movement, intercourse, toileting, or certain postures you may have myofascial pelvic pain.  Often pain diagnosis of the organs (Irritable Bowel, Interstitial Cyctitis, and endometriosis) have a myofascial pain component. Contact your physician or physical therapist to determine if Pelvic Physical Therapy can help you.  Pelvic rehabilitation is certainly worth a try before you try surgeries or become dependent on pain medication.

Have questions? Call 530-362-8181 or email to set up a FREE 15 minute phone consultation.  We will bring you beyond rehab into a life lived more fully

(1) Baskin LS, Tanagho EA.  Pelvic pain without pelvic organs. J Urol. 1992 Mar; 147(3)683-6


Hula Hooping to Preserve Wild Spaces



We were thrilled when the Center for the Arts invited Mags to bring her brand of Hoop fun to the Bear Yuba Land Trust Annual Benefit Concert.

Everyone smiles when hula hooping!

We are staunch supporters of land stewardship for us and future generations to enjoy.   What a great way to support our local environment and the arts! The evening entertained with captivating live music, scrumptious food, and generous donors.

Alive Physical Therapy brings out big energetic smiles of all in the hula hoop! Mags provided artistic hula hoop dance performance and lessons to all who wanted to try.  Thank you to the many people that watching, and adults and kids that joined in hooping.  We had over 10 adult never-before-hoopers successfully hoop to the upbeat jams of Allen Toussaint and Earles of Newtown!  We didn’t want anyone to get hurt with hula hooping in the dark, so we closed up shop before the main act Dr. John and the Nite Trippers could come on.  To all who came out, it was a pleasure meeting you and sharing the Hoop Joy.  To those of you that missed out, you can still donate to the Bear Yuba Land Trust on their website, and join in on the hula hooping fun at class Thursday nights at 7:30pm.  Thank you to all the hard workers and great performers that made this fundraiser a success!



School is Starting, Build Strong Bones for Life!

Free Community Health Talk by Physical Therapist Mags Matthews


School starts this week in Nevada County! As we send our children back to school, parents have high hopes for their education. What parents might not be thinking about is how schooling, specifically how backpack wearing can affect their child’s spine and bone development. Backpacks that are too heavy, too big, or on one side can cause excessive curvature in the spine that may lead to back pain, missed school days, and set a path to bone degeneration down the line. During childhood to young adulthood the body produces the strongest bone tissue for life, and healthy practices starting in the phase can last a lifetime. The good news is that older adults can still lay down new bone growth, decrease neck, back, and shoulder aches, improve posture, and gain height.  Many studies show that the right kinds of exercise can decrease risk of fractures, and decrease the chances of falling for older adults and sedentary people.  On Monday, August 19, physical therapist Mags Matthews, PT,  AT-MAT,  will give a free community health talk entitled “Strong Bones For Life” at the Madelyn Helling Library Community Room at 3pm.  All are welcome.

Mags will give an overview of bone development through the lifespan and give tips and exercises on keeping your bones strong.  For backpack and bag wearers of all ages, she will discuss proper fit, loading principles and sizing.  This class will include a multi-media presentation, demonstration, and guided optional exercise.  If you can’t make it to the lecture, Mags also teaching a Strong Bones For Life! Exercise Class for building bones density Monday afternoons at The NEST.

What: “Strong Bones For Life” a Free Community Health Class

Where: Madelyn Helling Library, 980 Helling Way, Nevada City, CA 95959

When: Monday, August 19, 2013 at 3pm

Karin Day, PT of to Sub for Hoop Flow Class


Hi All!  Mags will be in San Francisco this weekend for professional development training in even more ways to get you physical results fast!

Today, at 7:30 pm,  Fellow Hoopnotica Teacher and Physical Therapist Karin Day, PT who runs will teach Hoop Flow Class.  Karin brings an unique way of teaching that allows for individual expression and fun.  Come join her for an hour of exercise that feels like play!


7:30pm Core Movement Center 578 Searls Ave, Nevada City, CA 95959


Exercise During Pregnancy Improves Birth Outcomes and Future Health

photo by Mark Shearman from
photo by Mark Shearman from

Recently pregnant athletes have been in the news.  From articles in Runner’s World to photos of elite British marathon runner Paula Radcliffe, such as this photo on the right, we are reminded that doctors encourage pregnant women to stay active even into the third trimester.   Now research presents with even more support for moms-to- be to exercise!  Two recent studies show that exercise in the second and third trimesters are not only safe for normal pregnancies but can decrease the risks of gestational diabetes, high weight babies and the need for ceasarean delivery.

In this study performed in Spain, researchers examined 510 healthy pregnant women, and assigned half to normal care, and half to perform moderate resistance and aerobic exercise 50-55 minutes three times a week.  The women that exercised had a 58% decrease in gestational diabetes related outcomes including  high weight babies, and a 34% decrease in unplanned and elective cesareans.

In this second study recently published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, researchers look at markers in the blood as evidence of improved health.  Elevated C-reactive protein (CRP) is associated with a sedentary lifestyle and adverse pregnancy outcomes such as gestational diabetes, preeclampsia (high blood pressure during pregnancy), and preterm birth.  Even light amount of physical activity in the second trimester had a positive effect on CRP.

Of course most pregnant moms are not elite runners, and are not advised to try something very strenuous for the first time exercising while pregnant.  Because pregnant bodies are now functioning for two, exercise endurance, speed, lung capacity, and energy levels typically decrease.  Instead of focusing on an end goal activity, distance, or event, focus on maintaining a healthy pregnancy all the way to delivery.  Exercise at a level where you can still maintain a conversation, and decrease the intensity appropriately as your pregnancy progresses, for example switching to walk-jogging, or walking from running.  If you are just starting to exercise try something impact-free like walking, pre-natal pilates, or hula hooping.

Women that exercise during pregnancy are more likely to continue to exercise after birth, which means mom sleeps more soundly, and stays healthy, and has more energy to take care of her family when compared to sedentary women.  All pregnant women will benefit from doing some kind of pelvic floor exercise.  Check with your doctor and physical therapist for guidance what other exercise is appropriate for you.  A women’s health physical therapist can provide guidance on safe exercises to perform during and after pregnancy, and also help with any issues such as pelvic, hip, and back pain, incontinence, and perineal massage which decreases the risks of tearing, and need for episiotomy during delivery.

Think you need help?  Call to schedule a free 15 minute consultation 530-362-8181