Yahara Therapy

What is physical therapy? Physical therapy (PT) is the art and science of understanding and working with a person through their physical body to help achieve or restore the best function, mobility and quality of life possible. Tools include hands-on work, prescriptions for activity and changes in habits, and lots of education!

What is massage therapy and bodywork? Massage therapy is a hands-on practice that addresses the soft tissues of the body such as skin, muscle and fascia (special connective tissue that surrounds everything in your body). Massage is most frequently used to provide pain relief, increase circulation, and help relax specific areas as well as your whole self. Like physical therapy, massage therapy includes many types of techniques, positions and pressures.

Susan Frikken measuring during physical therapy The first time you seek help, and any time you have a new concern, we will make an appointment for an Evaluation and physical therapy diagnosis. At this special visit, we will work together to gather information about your health history, reasons for seeking therapy, and the goals you have for feeling and being your best.

As determined by your needs, I will provide appropriate and thorough screening and measurement of a few or many of the following: Your strength, flexibility, joint range of motion, muscle tone, vital signs and senses. I may test your balance, endurance and circulation, and more. It will be important to look at your posture and to assess the way you move and the devices and other tools you use in your daily life. The results of this appointment will be used to help us measure changes throughout your therapy journey.

Depending upon the complexity of your situation, additional appointments for evaluation may be needed. To provide you with the best and most thorough care, I may sometimes refer you to another provider for additional, detailed examination. Therapy and treatment may begin at the first session or at subsequent visits.

While I always try to employ the best tools available, I am primarily a manual therapist, which means I use and blend many hands-on techniques in my evaluation and treatment. These include the tools below:

Joint mobilization and stabilization
Susan Frikken analyzing alignment and strength Sometimes your joints — where bones meet—may need some help returning to balance after injury, illness, lack of movement or other underlying issue. Hands-on techniques can be used to gently mobilize (move) joints to allow them more freedom. Sometimes, joints need to move less — gentle strengthening exercises may be prescribed to increase their stability.

Finding Comfort, Equilibrium, and Optimal Health
Your body is made of parts that need to stretch and expand and move, as well as parts that are firm and anchor and make up your solid, support structure. Sometimes, the firmer structures (mostly bones) may not be in alignment, or the softer tissues (muscle, tendon, ligament, fascia, blood vessels, nerves) may get stuck, contracted or stretched too much. Your body may be pushed or pulled out of balance, creating pain and disturbance. Though your structures may not touch one another directly, they are all connected in this system, and one part out of place can create imbalance anywhere in your body!

Posture and Movement Evaluation
Posture and positions are often involved in pain and difficulty using your body. A full postural assessment looks at you while you sit, lie, stand and walk (or otherwise propel yourself, such as in a wheelchair), and gathers information to make a plan to help you move more efficiently, powerfully and with less pain. Photographs and video are often used in the therapeutic process to help you see yourself, so you can fully understand how to take charge and make changes that create lasting effects and relief.

Myofascial and Trigger Point Massage
Susan Frikken performing massage Fascia is a connective tissue that wraps the body to help support its bones, muscles, organs and other parts of the anatomy, and it is meant to move along with you. When fascia becomes tight, rigid or brittle because of too much or too little movement, injury, or illness, it can result in pain and movement problems.

Trigger points are small groups of muscle fibers that "forget" how to relax, creating what many refer to as "knots". These trigger points create stiffness, difficulty moving, and pain, which may often travel to more distant body areas, a phenomenon called "referred pain".

Myofascial Massage and Trigger Point Massage are special hands-on techniques used to soften and relax tight tissues, breaking the pain cycles, and freeing your body to move with more ease. You are often taught how to easily use these techniques on yourself, to make the most of your treatment.

Visceral Manipulation (VM)
Visceral Manipulation is a gentle hands-on technique which helps to discover and treat tension and restrictions in the viscera: organs and the connective tissues that surround them. These areas are often overlooked or neglected when trying to find the root of a problem. Visceral Manipulation was pioneered by Jean-Pierre Barral, a French physiotherapist and osteopath.

The intent of VM is, much like myofascial work, to: discover dysfunction and irregularities through direct touch; balance the stresses upon organs and their ligaments; free adhesions ("stuck" areas), and encourage healthy circulation within and to organs and your body system as a whole. This practice is an important tool used alone or with other therapies, that can help address symptoms of illness and physical dysfunction, such as gastro-intestinal upset, spasm, and pain anywhere in the body.

Strain and Counterstrain
Developed by osteopath Lawrence Jones, this noninvasive treatment helps interrupt the pain-producing muscle spasms your body creates to protect you from sudden injury or chronic use problems. By quickly and gently scanning and placing your body briefly (up to 90 seconds) in relaxed positions, the therapist can help your body break the protective pain cycle. Because the reflex is interrupted, you are able to move and function more freely, allowing you to return to regular physical goals and activities. Instruction in performing simple passive positions is often provided, so you know how to support and treat yourself as needed.

Thai Yoga Massage
Susan Frikken performing Thai Yoga Massage This practice presents the ancient art of Thai Massage and adapts it to the "Western" body. Performed on a mat, you are fully clothed while the practitioner uses her arms, legs, feet and hands to massage and gently stretch your body along energy lines named "sen". It is invigorating and relaxing. Thai Yoga Massage may also be used in part during other therapies as a tool to promote rehabilitation.

Falls Prevention
Many issues may contribute to loss of balance and falls, including your body's ability to sense and feel itself on the ground and in your environment. This may happen gradually over time from disuse, or suddenly after an illness or accident. A thorough assessment includes screening for changes or trouble with vision; testing of the vestibular and other body-sensing systems; strength, balance, and movement evaluation; and discussion about home and environmental safety, including recommendations for modifications and tools to increase safety. Treatment may include: strength and balance exercises, including dance and other fun activities; training in the use of devices such as Nordic walking poles, canes, walkers, or other devices to help decrease fear and enhance stability; and lots of education about staying independent!

Individual appointments and group classes may be available. Contact us for more information.

Balance and Vestibular Rehabilitation
Dizziness, vertigo (including BPPV, or "benign paroxysmal positional vertigo"), and motion sensitivity interfere with your ability to safely and comfortably move about in your life. A comprehensive screening helps determine the causes, and treatment is provided to help you manage—and often completely resolve—these symptoms so that return to safe movement is possible. Referral from or to a medical provider may be required for complete treatment.

Strength and Flexibility
Susan Frikken applying a sandbag during plank Do you find it has become difficult to turn your head to see over your shoulder? Is there a growing child in your life that is getting harder to lift? Are you getting more tired, more often, just doing the usual chores? If you want to reach higher, help with the heavy lifting, and enjoy recreational activities without fear of pain or injury, a physical assessment may include strength, flexibility, and endurance testing, so we can make a plan to get you back to your safest, most powerful, most comfortable self!

Three-Dimensional (3D) Scoliosis Rehabilitation: Schroth-Based Therapy
This is an exercise-based treatment for adolescents and non-painful adults with scoliosis and kyphosis. It includes specific evaluation and focused exercises which assist you in building a healthy way of being in and thinking about your body. The goals of this treatment are to decrease the asymmetry of your spine, build balanced muscle strength and stability, improve the function of your lungs, enhance the function of a brace if you wear one, and potentially avoid surgery. In turn, this reduces the effects of wear and tear and degeneration as you age, and of damage related to the special stress of living with spinal asymmetry. Exercises are learned through an initial series of appointments several times per week, and a daily home exercise program is developed for you to maintain and manage. This treatment asks you to be committed to practice and dedicated to your care. For adolescents, it is especially important as your spine and bones are still forming to learn how to maintain a strong, balanced posture and to move to make the most of all your activities, including sports and other physical performance as well as all the “regular” parts of living your interesting life!

Group Presentations and Classes

I am available to present to your group, workplace or organization. Please call or email for more information. Interactive workshops are designed to give you skills and information you can use in your daily life. Demonstrations introduce you to a technique or therapeutic tool. Topics may include:

  • Balance and falls prevention.

        · One hour interactive class including a falls risk assessment.

        ·"Ballroom Basics for Balance” - improve your balance with dance!

        · Stepping On – Build confidence and learn strategies to reduce falls.

  • Basic anatomy and physiology: Learn more about your body.

  • Self-treatment techniques for pain management.

  • Types of therapy, and how to find a therapist that is right for you.

  • Topic that we choose together!

I am planning to teach classes on various topics. Please stay tuned for more information!