Synergy Fitness for Her

Physical Therapy Thought

Physical Therapy Thought

Prevent Pain-Stay Strong

You know exercise is important to your health. It helps you feel better physically, gives you energy, and helps you deal with the stress of your busy life.  

But what do you do when life gets too busy to take an exercise class, go for a run, or get to the gym? 

It’s easy to start skipping exercise when life gets busy, but that leads to less energy, and aches and pains cropping up. This makes you feel like exercising even less, and leads to a downward spiral. That means that finding time to exercise when life is busy is even more important.  

If you can find 8 minutes, you can maintain your strength even on your busiest day.  

Exercise doesn’t have to take lots of time. In fact, your 8 minutes don’t even have to be all together. You can break them up throughout the day. Doing one exercise for one minute every hour while at work counts just as much as doing 8 minutes of exercise after the kids are in bed and before you collapse on the couch. The following exercises use your body weight for resistance, so you don’t need any equipment. They also use many muscle groups at once, so you can maintain strength in your whole body in a short amount of time.  

  1. The plank; Lying on your stomach, with your forearms on the ground, elbows under the shoulders, and arms parallel to the body. Toes tucked under, engage your stomach muscles and lift your body up. Hold for 20 seconds, rest 5 seconds, and repeat 3 times. 
  1. Push up; (do on your knees if you need an easier version). 20 seconds of push ups, 10 seconds of rest and repeat. 
  1. Quadruped – Start on your hands and knees with your hands under your shoulders, and you knees under your hips. Lift and reach with one arm and the opposite leg, maintaining a stable core. Hold 10 seconds and repeat on opposite side. Repeat 5 times. 
  1. Bridge; Lying on back, with your knees bent, engage your abdominals and lift your hips. Hold 20 seconds, rest 5 seconds, and repeat 3 times. 
  1. Lunge; Stand tall and take a large step forward with the right leg, shifting your weight forward. Lower your body until the right thigh is parallel to floor and your right shin is vertical. (do not let the knee shift past right toe). Return to the start and repeat on the other side. Repeat 20 times.  
  1. Squat to heel raise; Feet shoulder width apart, core engaged and arms raised high above the head. Perform a squat and return to standing then rise onto your toes. Repeat 20 times. 

#preventpain #staystrong #physicaltherapy


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Physical Therapy Thought

Avoid the Pain of Travel

The joys of a family vacation can be overshadowed by the ‘pain’ of hauling excessive luggage, sleeping in a different bed and extended periods of sitting. Here are our favorite tips to keep you feeling your best while traveling so you can enjoy your destination.

Take breaks while driving

Every hour or two, stop and walk for a few minutes. It’s also not a bad idea to do some standing back extensions. Sitting places your spine in a flexed position, so moving it the opposite direction can prevent pain.

Support your back

If you’re going to be sitting for extended periods, like on an airplane, using lumbar support can keep you more comfortable. A lumbar roll, or small pillow works well placed between the seat and the small of back. Using a rolled jacket or blanket is another good option.

Choose the right luggage

Suitcases with wheels let you avoid lifting and carrying. If you’re flying, check your bags to avoid the overhead lifting. A backpack that can be worn on both shoulders makes a great carryon and is easier to handle than a bag you can only use one hand on.

Dress to move

Comfortable shoes and clothes let you walk when you have the opportunity. If you have down time, like waiting at the gate at the airport, or waiting for your hotel room to be ready, use the opportunity to take a walk instead of sitting.

Pillow talk

If you have a long flight, train or car ride where you plan to sleep, use a neck pillow. This helps you avoid sleeping with a twisted neck, then waking up in pain. If you’re worried about the comfort of the pillows at the hotel, don’t be afraid to bring your own.

Listen to your body

Vague discomfort is often a warning sign that you need to move!

Don’t take a vacation from exercise

Maintain your usual activity level. Research local exercise facilities before you head to a new town, take your running shoes, and travel with your theraband and foam roller. The more you can maintain your activity level, the less likely you are to end up in pain.

With these tips, you should be able to arrive at your destination feeling ready to enjoy your time with your family instead of in pain, stiff, or sore.

 

#PhysicalTherapy #Travel #Vacation #HealthySpine


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Do you need a body tune-up for spring?

Physical Therapy Thoughts

Do you need a body tune-up for spring?

Now that spring has finally arrived, most of us get the urge to get outdoors and “do something”. For some of us that may be walking more, starting a running program, gardening, biking, tennis, golf, hiking, kayaking or many other activities. Although we are mentally ready to become more active, our bodies may not physically be quite so ready.

During the winter months many people spend their time primarily indoors in relative hibernation with decreased activity. Even people who stay relatively active during the winter month may benefit from a physical therapy tune-up. Why? The activities you engage in during the winter months may not use the same muscles as the ones you will use in the spring.

Repetitive motions required in golf, swimming, tennis, softball and others may lead to strains and sprains affecting your muscles or tendons. Plantar fasciitis, hamstring strains, or runner’s knee may slow your progress if you ramp up your jogging or running program too quickly. Neck or back pain are quite common as gardening and spring cleaning season starts anew.

While this may sound daunting, don’t let it discourage you from getting outdoors and becoming more active. Most of us just want to jump into the activity we chose without much planning or preparation, but that can often lead to injury and disappointment. The key is to start out slowly. Warm up your body for a few minutes before getting into any strenuous activity. Also, make sure you gradually increase your activity intensity and duration over time.

Not sure where to start? Remembering previous seasons with lots of aches and pains? Having a spring tune-up from a physical therapist can help you get ready for the activities you want to enjoy this outdoor season. A physical therapist can assess your alignment, flexibility, strength, endurance, balance and coordination and help you in the areas needed to improve your performance and prevent injury and unnecessary aches and pains.

To schedule an appointment with your physical therapist at Synergy Fitness for Her, contact us at 919-402-0888 or birgit@synergyfitnessforher.com.

Birgit Reher, PT, DPT


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See Your Physical Therapist to Nip Potential Injuries in the Bud

You probably already know to make an appointment with a physical therapist when you sprain your ankle or develop tennis elbow. But what if you’ve felt a slight twinge in your knee during your daily walk or noticed that your posture has changed since you accepted a job that requires sitting for eight hours a day? Or maybe you’ve been thinking about joining a gym to get in shape. Are these reasons to see a physical therapist? Yes! Each of these scenarios has the potential for injury. Physical therapists are experts in injury prevention and are trained to spot small problems before they become big problems—and often before you know that there’s a problem at all. Physical therapists evaluate, screen and assess patients using a variety of tools to detect mobility limitations and muscle imbalances that, if left untreated, may leave you prone to serious injuries down the road. When caught early, injuries—or the very beginning signs of an injury—are easier to treat and the recovery period is shorter, less expensive and less of a burden on everyday life. Knowing what to look out for—and when to see a healthcare professional—is often not as obvious as it sounds. Some signs and symptoms aren’t recognized as indicators of an injury while others may be brushed off as nothing serious. Here are a few things to look out for:
• Joint pain
• Tenderness
• Swelling
• Reduced range of motion
• Weakness
• Numbness or tingling
• Balance issues
If you’re experiencing any of these signs or symptoms, schedule an appointment with a physical therapist to rule out a potential problem or to nip one in the bud before it becomes more serious. Based on background, training and experience, PTs understand how a patient’s risk for specific types of injuries can increase based on participation in certain sports and recreational activities as well as identify physical strains due to on-the-job and household demands. An individualized exercise program designed to strengthen your muscles, improve flexibility and optimize your physical ability can help correct and prevent issues that could turn into injuries in the future. For example, a teenage field hockey player can learn exercises to perform regularly to lower her risk of tearing her ACL. Your PT can design an injury prevention exercise program to suit your specific needs and ensure your healthy participation in sports, recreational activities and everyday life.


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Physical Therapy Thought

Ready, Set, Run! Combat Depression with Regular Exercise

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?


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Back Pain and Physical Activity

From Physical Therapy at Synergy Fitness for Her

Don’t Let Back Pain Derail Your Commitment to Exercise
Within weeks of belting out the final stanza of “Auld Lang Syne,” a large segment of those resolving to exercise more in the New Year will be on the sidelines. The cause? A variety of injuries and conditions ranging from stress fractures and twisted ankles to the biggest culprit of all, low back pain.
A Global Burden of Disease, Injuries, and Risk Factors study recently cited low back pain as the single leading cause of disability worldwide. Estimates indicate that 80% of us contend with the common
ailment at some point in our lives. The intense and debilitating pain that accompanies low back injuries
often prevents sufferers from going to work, participating in household chores and enjoying time with
loved ones.

Low back pain doesn’t have to be a prescription for couch surfing. Current studies show no evidence that supervised physical activity increases the risk of additional back problems or work disability. Counter to the age-old recommendation of inactivity, a customized exercise program under the direction of a physical therapist is widely prescribed to reduce pain and disability.

“In my practice I see clients with recent back injuries as well as clients who have been held back from doing the things they enjoy for years due to back problems”, stated Birgit Reher, physical therapist at Synergy Fitness for Her in Durham NC. “While a recent back problem tends to get resolved more quickly and completely, it is very rewarding to see even longstanding issues improve with the right care.”

Although back pain can affect anyone, the major risk factors include age, poor physical fitness, genetics,
being overweight, and smoking. The National Institutes of Health suggests the following to prevent back
pain:
• Exercise frequently and keep your back muscles strong.
• Maintain a healthy weight.
• Eat a balanced diet, including daily recommendations for calcium and vitamin D.
• Focus on body mechanics by standing up straight and lifting heavy objects with bent legs and a
straight back.
According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, low back pain sufferers should prioritize a
supervised exercise program and a gradual return to everyday activities to restore back strength.
Following an evaluation, physical therapists can recommend specific exercises to prevent and treat back
pain, and provide additional treatment options to address pain and restore mobility.

About The Private Practice Section of the American Physical Therapy Association
Founded in 1956, the Private Practice Section of the American Physical Therapy Association champions
the success of physical therapist-owned businesses. Our members are leaders and innovators in the health care system. The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) represents more than 85,000 physical therapists, physical therapist assistants and students of physical therapy nationwide. For more
information, please visit www.ppsapta.org.

Birgit Reher PT, a physical therapist at Synergy Fitness for Her, is a member of both the APTA and the Private Practice Section


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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome-Physical Therapy vs Surgery

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common problem leading to wrist and hand pain, tingling, numbness and weakness.  It is caused by pressure on the median nerve as it passes from the forearm through a small tunnel into the wrist and hand.  This pressure is generally caused by swelling that narrows this small tunnel and can be caused by repetitive wrist motions, pregnancy, or diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and hypothyroidism.

Treatment options include surgery and physical therapy.  A recent study of 100 women randomly assigned to either surgery or physical therapy showed equal outcomes in self-reported function, pinch grip and symptoms.
http://www.jospt.org/doi/abs/10.2519/jospt.2017.7090


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Plantar Fasciitis

 

Oh my aching feet….

Foot and heel pain is a very common complaint among athletes and non-athletes alike.  Plantar fasciitis is a very common condition causing heel pain.  Symptoms usually start suddenly, often occur after a rapid increase in activity and are felt as a stabbing pain on the bottom or side of the heel, or as a sensation of tenderness or tightness along the arch.  

What is Plantar Fasciitis?

The plantar fascia is a thick band of tissue that supports your arch and connects the ball of your foot to the heel.  This tissue can become inflamed with repetitive weight-bearing activities.  This condition can develop in athletes and non-athletes alike.

Symptoms are usually worst when getting out of bed in the morning taking the first few steps, standing up after prolonged sitting, after prolonged standing, after walking barefoot or in shoes with poor support, or after an intense weight bearing activity such as running or stair-climbing.  Frequently, people report that symptoms improve over the course of the day as the body warms up, but then progressively get worse later in the day with prolonged walking or standing.

 

What are the risk factors for developing Plantar Fasciitis?

  • Age over 40
  • Sudden increase in running or other weight bearing activity
  • Prolonged standing with work or leisure activities
  • Increased body weight
  • Decreased flexibility in calf muscles
  • Walking barefoot or in shoes with poor support
  • A tendency towards a flat foot, increased pronation

 

How can I prevent Plantar Fasciitis?

  • By regularly stretching your calf and foot muscles, especially before and after walking and running
  • By wearing well-fitting shoes with good arch support
  • By replacing your shoes regularly so that they provide good shock absorption
  • By maintaining or regaining a healthy body weight
  • By working out smartly, including a warm- up with your exercise program and gradually building up the duration and intensity of your program

A few exercises that can help you improve flexibility through your ankles and fascia:


Stand with arms against the wall or solid surface 
Standing Calf Stretch – sideview

Repeat 2 Times
Hold 30 Seconds
Complete 1 Set
Perform 2 Time(s) a Day

If the standing ankle stretch is too uncomfortable, this seated stretch is a good alternative.

Seated towel or belt stretch

Sit with your affected foot in front of you. Place a belt at the base of your toes and pull back, stretching the long plantar ligament.
Repeat 3 Times
Hold 1 Minute
Complete 1 Set
Perform 2 Time(s) a Day

Plantar Fascia-Self Stretch

Grasp foot and pull big toe towards you as far as you can while fully dorsiflexing ankle simultaneously.
Repeat 2 Times
Hold 30 Seconds
Complete 1 Set
Perform 2 Time(s) a Day

Plantar Fascia-Self Stretch

Grasp foot and pull big toe towards you as far as you can while fully dorsiflexing ankle simultaneously.
Repeat 2 Times
Hold 30 Seconds
Complete 1 Set
Perform 2 Time(s) a Day


Sit on the edge of a bench or a chair. Place a tennis ball on the ground and place your involved foot on the ball. Apply pressure and run your foot back and forth over then ball, massaging the underside of your foot. Don’t press so hard that you are in pain.

Repeat 20 Times
Hold 2 Seconds
Complete 2 Sets
Perform 2 Time(s) a Day

I think I may have Plantar Fasciitis. What can I do?

  • The first step is to see your physical therapist for an evaluation to diagnose the problem.  She will take a thorough history and perform an assessment to ensure that your symptoms are not caused by other conditions
  • If you indeed have Plantar Fasciitis, your therapist will teach you exercises to improve flexibility of the ankle and plantar fascia
  • She may also perform some myofascial work to speed up restoration of flexibility
  • Other components of treatment may be instruction in ice massage, instruction in exercise program modification, education re footwear selection, assessment for need of orthotics, use of night splints, or taping

Of course, the best thing is to prevent Plantar Fasciitis in the first place, but if you have developed this condition, it is worthwhile to get it checked out promptly.  Most of the time symptoms can be resolved with conservative measures, so that you feel better and can get back to the activities you enjoy.

 


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9 Things You Should Know About Pain

9 Things You Should Know About Pain

 

  1. Pain is output from the brain. While we used to believe that pain originated within the tissues of our body, we now understand that pain does not exist until the brain determines it does. The brain uses a virtual “road map” to direct an output of pain to tissues that it suspects may be in danger. This process acts as a means of communication between the brain and the tissues of the body, to serve as a defense against possible injury or disease.
  2. The degree of injury does not always equal the degree of pain. Research has demonstrated that we all experience pain in individual ways. While some of us experience major injuries with little pain, others experience minor injuries with a lot of pain (think of a paper cut).
  3. Despite what diagnostic imaging (MRIs, x-rays, CT scans) shows us, the finding may not be the cause of your pain.A study performed on individuals 60 years or older who had no symptoms of low back pain found that 36% had a herniated disc, 21% had spinal stenosis, and more than 90% had a degenerated or bulging disc, upon diagnostic imaging.
  4. Psychological factors, such as depression and anxiety, can make your pain worse. Pain can be influenced by many different factors, such as psychological conditions. A recent study in the Journal of Pain showed that psychological variables that existed prior to a total knee replacement were related to a patient’s experience of long-term pain following the operation.
  5. Your social environment may influence your perception of pain. Many patients state their pain increases when they are at work or in a stressful situation. Pain messages can be generated when an individual is in an environment or situation that the brain interprets as unsafe. It is a fundamental form of self-protection.
  6. Understanding pain through education may reduce your need for care. A large study conducted with military personnel demonstrated that those who were given a 45-minute educational session about pain sought care for low back pain less than their counterparts.
  7. Our brains can be tricked into developing pain in prosthetic limbs. Studies have shown that our brains can be tricked into developing a “referred” sensation in a limb that has been amputated, causing a feeling of pain that seems to come from the prosthetic limb – or from the “phantom” limb. The sensation is generated by the association of the brain’s perception of what the body is from birth (whole and complete) and what it currently is (post-amputation).
  8. The ability to determine left from right may be altered when you experience pain. Networks within the brain that assist you in determining left from right can be affected when you experience severe pain. If you have been experiencing pain, and have noticed your sense of direction is a bit off, it may be because a “roadmap” within the brain that details a path to each part of the body may be a bit “smudged.” (This is a term we use to describe a part of the brain’s virtual roadmap that isn’t clear. Imagine spilling ink onto part of a roadmap and then trying to use that map to get to your destination.)
  9. There is no way of knowing whether you have a high tolerance for pain or not. Science has yet to determine whether we all experience pain in the same way. While some people claim to have a “high tolerance” for pain, there is no accurate way to measure or compare pain tolerance among individuals. While some tools exist to measure how much force you can resist before experiencing pain, it can’t be determined what your pain “feels like.”Read more about Painand Chronic Pain Syndromes.

The American Physical Therapy Association launched a national campaign to raise awareness about the risks of opioids and the safe alternative of physical therapy for long-term pain management. Learn more at our #ChoosePT page.

Author: Joseph Brence, PT, DPT, FAAOMPT, COMT, DAC


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10 Natural Solutions to Ease your Low Back Pain and Stiffness without Medications, Expensive Tests & Referrals

downloadIntroduction

Are you or someone you are living with suffering from back pain or stiffness? About 80% of Americans will experience back pain at some point in their lives, and it can have an impact on many parts of life. It can affect sleep, mood, work and finances, relationships, ability to do housework or gardening, and enjoyment of cherished activities from playing with the grandchildren to playing a round of golf, a game of tennis or going for a run. Many people think of back pain as an inevitable part of ageing or put it down to stress or lack of exercise. They may have been told by friends or even healthcare providers that nothing can be done other than rest and medication.

In this report I share 10 very powerful strategies that I have found to work for many of my patients over the past 15 years. They are in no particular order, but they all work. Without knowing your specific history and root cause of pain I cannot tell you which strategy will work for you, but in trying out some or all of the strategies described you may go a long way in feeling
better and regaining your active and healthy lifestyle and joie de vivre.

10 Natural Solutions to Ease Your Low Back Pain and Stiffness without Medications, Expensive Tests, and Referrals

1. Avoid Sitting For More Than 20 Minutes At A Time

Your body is not designed to spend much time sitting. When you sit there is about 10 times as much pressure pushing down on your spine than when you stand tall. This happens because we tend to slump or slouch, which does not allow the muscles supporting the spine to work efficiently. Even if you do sit up with good posture initially, the muscles supporting your back will fatigue if you sit uninterrupted for more than 20 minutes. This inevitably causes stiffness, aches and pain. Even just getting up and moving around for a couple of minutes regularly can make a big difference.

2. Avoid Sleeping On Your Stomach

When you sleep on your stomach every part of your spine, from the neck down to the low back, is twisted and in the wrong position. Over time, this can cause a lot of imbalances, damage and pain in your spine.

3. Use Ice

Ice is a great tool to relieve an achy or painful back. It decreases inflammation and has a natural local anesthetic effect. So if you feel achy at the end of a busy day apply an icepack to your back for 10 to 15 minutes. You can do this every couple of hours if needed.

You may wonder when to use heat. Heat can be helpful if your back feels stiff in the morning. Applying a hotpack or hot water bottle for 10 minutes can make it easier for you to loosen up.

4. Avoid Carrying A Bag, Purse Or Backpack On The Same Side Every Day

When you consistently carry a load on one side your spine will have uneven pressure on it. Over time this may adversely affect your posture as your spine may curve sideways and cause decreased mobility and pain.

5. Wear Proper Footwear

Wearing high heels changes your posture and increases the pressure going through your back by about 25 times. Also wearing unsupportive shoes including flip-flops and sandals can put extra pressure on your back, hips and knees. Of course this is a cumulative effect that develops over months and years, and often results in pain and stiffness in the 40’s, 50’s and beyond. Just changing your footwear to something supportive that can absorb a lot of the shock going through your body with each step can dramatically decrease the pressure on your back and decrease or eliminate your back pain.

6. Sleep With A Pillow Between Your Knees

If you sleep on your side, try putting a pillow between your knees. While this may take a few tries to get used to, this technique can really help your back as it helps keep your spine in better alignment and decreases the tension in your low back.

7. Maintain Good Posture

Your regular daily activities, if done with poor posture, cause cumulative strain on your back. Tasks such as leaning over the sink to brush your teeth or leaning over the kitchen counter preparing food can increase pressure in your back about 50 percent. If you are standing at the kitchen counter for a while try to put one foot up on a small foot stool or open the cabinet door and step one foot on the bottom ledge to relieve some pressure in your back.

8. Use Your Endorphins

Your body can naturally produce endorphins, which are hormones that can be as effective as pain medication in blocking pain signals to your brain. You can get your body to produce these pain relieving hormones through aerobic exercise such as walking, or relaxation and meditation techniques. There are free guided meditation podcasts and apps available.

9. Try Pilates Or Yoga

These are well established systems of exercises that can help you become more aware of your posture and areas of tension, improve flexibility and increase muscle tone and control through the core muscles supporting your spine.

10. Give Physical Therapy A Try

This tip will provide you with the fastest relief from back pain and stiffness. With back pain, many people focus just on the symptoms rather than the underlying cause. Physical therapists are movement specialists who can determine the underlying cause and help you restore mobility, reduce pain and improve quality of life. Therapy may include manual therapy help you relax tight muscles or loosen stiff and stuck joints as well as exercises to improve your alignment and strengthen your core muscles.

Most people don’t realize how easy it is to get access to physical therapy. You don’t need a referral from a physician, unless you are on Medicare. You will likely be able to avoid expensive unnecessary tests and medications and quickly get back to doing the things you enjoy. Our clinic can help get you on the right track.

For more information contact me at birgit@synergyfitnessforher.com or: 919-402- 0888