July: Functional Movement Screening


Are you ever curious about how your body moves or why your body moves in a certain way?

The FMS, or Functional Movement Screening can help you answer questions about your body’s movement patterns and just how well your body moves with a very low investment of your time and a high return of information. The FMS will provide you with information about your body’s general behaviors so that more specific behaviors can then be examined.

One thing to know about the FMS is that it is NOT an assessment. The FMS is quite literally a screening, as told in its name, which lets us know if you need to be further assessed in a specific direction or a specific area of your body and its movements.

Many sports teams ranging from the NFL during combines and youth sports teams have participated in FMS.


The major goals of the FMS are to help people like you move better, and then move more often. It focuses on mobility, balance, and stability in order to identify asymmetries and major limitations in your functional movement patterns.

                Why should you do this?

Because movement matters. The quality of your movement is a vital component to help you reduce your risk of injury, reach your performance goals as an athlete, and improve your overall quality of life.

>Just like the movement of a car is vital. The quality of a working car is dependent on it being properly aligned, with everything working as it should be. This reduces the risk of problems that could potentially cause a car accident.

How does it work?

The FMS uses 7 different movements to identify possible weaknesses or imbalances that you might have. This means that you may not be using the correct mobility and motor control plans.

AKA your “Car” may not be driving the way that it should. TheFMS will identify the root causes of your faulty movement dysfunctions or any patterns that are painful to you.

>Just how a cars are checked for alignment, and the location of the misalignment is identified.

Copy and Paste this link for a great video on FMS: https://youtu.be/-WlenZwqsjw

A Great Quote:

It’s like a car being out of alignment,” he said. “You’re driving down the road, and you might be wearing in your tires the wrong way, and a lot of times you don’t even know it. You’re wearing on the joints or the tendons or wherever you put the stress, and you won’t notice until you have an injury.”

A bad habit or movement pattern can cause muscles to overcompensate in other ways which increases the risk of injury. Just like a car out of alignment can lead to worn out tires, the car not driving correctly, having to replace tires sooner than normal, and even to an accident.

The structure and health of the body is essential for quality movement, just as a mechanically sound car is required for safe driving.

So if you are curious about FMS testing, have questions, or would like to take part in your own FMS screening, feel free to contact us!


June 2015: TMD; Do I Have It?

Question, does your jaw hurt or pop sometimes? Do you have temporal or back of the headaches? Do you at times have ringing in the ears or feel ears are stuffed up? Do you grind or clench your teeth? If any of this sounds familiar, you may have TMD (Temporal Mandibular Dysfunction).

This is yet another installment on posture tips!

First of all, this poor little joint is literally not made for weight bearing due to the type of cartilage it is lined with.

However, we sometimes forget!

I have had patients swear to me that they never hold their head in their hands only to see them in the front of the office waiting to be helped in that exact posture! And don’t try to tell me you never do the ear to the phone shoulder cradle.

So our posture and habits affect this joint tremendously. Sometimes when I treat this problem just by improving posture, the TMD resolves or becomes significantly better.

99% of the time if someone has TMD issues they also have upper neck dysfunction.

As this picture demonstrates and I have discussed before, this is not the way our neck was meant to be loaded with the heavy head out in front. This also changes alignment of the jaw! Which changes pressure in the joint causing popping sensation and soreness in temples or face or by the ear.

So check your posture and if still having any symptoms mentioned above come see me for evaluation. Treatment usually involves light massage, education including tongue position and easy exercise and sometimes referral to a dentist who specializes in TMD.

May 2014: Pilates, not just for Girls!

Wait a minute, I thought Pilates was just for girls…

As we continue our installment on posture, we want to educate you on a specific type of exercise that will improve your posture.

Pilates is great for all ages and ability levels because it is a low impact exercise program that emphasizes core strength, stability, flexibility, and correct alignment of the pelvis and spine. Each exercise is designed to target specific muscles, and breathing techniques are used to effectively  cue the abdominals to support each movement. Exercises are executed with control, focus, and precision, students gain a greater sense of body awareness, balance, and overall wellness.

And it’s not just for girls! Read on to see how EVERYONE can benefit.

Here are 10 Principles of Pilates:

Awareness, Balance, Breath, Control, Concentration, Center, Efficiency, Flow, Harmony, Precision.

If you are new to exercising, have physical limitations, or are recovering from an injury or surgery, Pilates is a great way to rehabilitate once you are cleared to exercise, get back your range of motion, and may relieve your chronic pain.

Athletes can benefit a great deal from Pilates training as well.

Repetitive movements in sports such as throwing or hitting a baseball are, almost always one-sided. Pilates is a wonderful form of cross training, and can help correct these muscle imbalances within the body. Agility and muscle endurance will improve, and injury prevention is a huge advantage of consistent practice.

Here at Tompkins PT, we are lucky to have Caitlin Maged offering her Prestige Pilates at this location. Caitlin is first a dancer, studying for over 21 years and received her BA in Dance in 2009. She is a dance instructor, Pilates instructor since 2011, and has years of experience working with children, athletes, adults, and senior citizens. Caitlin offers mat classes, small group sessions, and private lessons. In mat classes, your body weight is used as resistance to challenge the muscles, and the Pilates apparatus (such as the Reformer and Wunda chair) used in private lessons, use resistance from springs to increase or decrease the intensity of an exercise.

If you would like to learn more, please visit prestigepilates.com.

Check our the testimonials page to see how others have benefited from the practice!

Please email Caitlin@prestigepilates.com with any questions you may have, or to schedule a session!

April: Rounded Shoulders

The Dreaded Rounded Shoulders

Between our very sedentary postures at work in front of the computer, and the many hours we all seem to spend bent over our phones these days, our posture has really suffered. Next time you are slumped on the couch binging on Downtown Abbey, check out their fabulous posture. Want to know how you can fix your rounded shoulders and achieve that? READ ON!

Rounded shoulders are usually due to a combination of tight pectoralis minors and weak scapula retractors such as the lower trapezius and latissumus dorsi.

So how do you fix it? The first step is to increase the mobility through the chest by stretching the pecs.

Second, we work on strengthening the scapula retractors that bring the shoulder blades together.

Here is one you can do at your desk by simply squeezing shoulder blades together in an upright posture.

Better results can be achieved if resistance is added to the movement with either a theraband standing or sitting upright, or using the same positions lying on the stomach with small weights.

If you have questions while in our Medical Gym, just ask for help!

Enjoy the start of spring, and be ready for next month when we will continue another installment on posture.

March 2015: Forward Head

Forward Head is no Joke!!

All joking aside, gravity does a number on our posture over the years! As we age, our shoulders tend to round forward, and in an effort to keep our eyes on the horizon, our neck extends and head tilts backward causing a forward head. This causes us to sit in a hunched posture, with our low back rounded and our spine unloaded. All of these things can cause issues with our neck, shoulders, lower back, and more.

Want to turn back the hands of time and fix your posture? Read on for the first installment of “Posture 101!”


Let’s start at the top of the chain. The best way to counteract your forward head is to wake up the muscles that pull the head in the opposite direction! Here’s how:

Assume your chosen start position, whether it is sitting, standing, or lying on your back (lying on your back is the easiest, then you can work up to standing). Gently tuck your chin down toward your neck. Don’t jam your chin in, though. We are after alignment here, not a maximal position.

Keeping your chin where it is, press your head back. Remember, this is a diagonal direction; it’s as though you are moving your head both backwards and up toward the ceiling. Feel the stretch at the back of your neck. Relax, and repeat.

You might try doing the cervical retraction about 20 to 30 times each day, either all at once or broken up into 5-8 reps 4 to 5 times during the day.

Good luck and hopefully you’ll be taller next time we see you! 🙂

Next month, in the next installment of Posture 101, we will cover rounded shoulders!

February 2015: Upper Extremity Stretches

Top 3 Upper Extremity Stretches

This month we have our top three shoulder stretches: lats, pectoralis minor, and posterior capsule. We picked these three stretches because they target muscles that are often tight can cause underlying dysfunction of neck or shoulder.

#1 Lats Stretch

There are a few different positions that can be used to stretch the lats, some being felt more in the back of the shoulders or lower back.


Pec Minor Release Stretch:

This muscle responds really well to the release pictured below. There will be some discomfort during the release, so don’t be discouraged when it does not give instant relief.


the key to this stretch is to keep your head supported with a pillow to roll completely onto shoulder before starting downward stretch. It should be felt in the back of the shoulder.

GOOD LUCK! In March we will give the top 3 neck stretches!!

January 2015: Resolutions for January

The 3 Best Stretches for Legs to Prevent Injury in your Workout


The top 3 Leg stretches for the NEW YEAR: These are muscles often forgotten and when tight can cause spine or knee pain and dysfunction.


>The PSOAS is a muscle that originates on the lumbar vertebrae and attaches on the femur. Because of its origin in the lumbar, tight psoas muscles often trigger low back pain and can cause a shift/tilt of the pelvis. This is why it is important to stretch these muscles.


This muscle crosses two joints in the leg. These types of muscles are prone to getting tight and can be tricky to stretch. Depending on how stiff you are in the lumbo-pelvic area, you may have greater success with the standing stretch below or using a roller.

The reason behind using a roller is that the foam roller connects with the muscles and underlying tissues; kneading them and making them looser, Therefore, foam rolling will improve some types of connective tissue problems. There are a lot of great YouTube videos of roller stretching, check them out!


These muscles are small and deep, located under the large gluteus muscles. They rotate the leg in and out and can affect the lower back and knees when restricted. Lying internal and external rotation help provide stretches in the opposite directions.

Next month we will look at the top upper extremity stretches that will help you prevent injury in shoulders and neck.

December 2014: Challenge Accepted


It’s that time of year again; Holidays are around the corner and everybody is scrambling for the end of the year! We encourage everyone to take some time for yourself during this busy time to stay active and healthy!

So for the entire month of December, we hope all of you join us in a little friendly competition!!

The Challenge:

Every week there will be a new wellness theme. Within each theme we will send out a weekly challenge and whoever completes the week’s challenge gets to enter their name into a raffle!

Week One: Flexibility

Week Two: Strength

Week Three: Cardio

Week Four: Lifestyle Change

Details on the goals of each week will be sent out via email and posted on our Facebook Page (www.facebook.com/TompkinsPhysicalTherapy). There will also be a print out available in the Medical Gym.

The Raffle:

After each week’s challenge is closed on Friday, stop by and enter your name into a raffle. The more challenges you complete, the more chances you have to enter. Those of you who complete all four weeks get a BONUS raffle entry!

At the end of the month we will draw a ticket and name one lucky person the winner for December! There will be a second drawing for those who entered into the bonus raffle for a chance to win another prize!

Remember, all entries are based on honor code so be good sports and play fair!

The Prize:

A free month membership for the Medical Gym!

(Bonus Raffle: Gift Certificate to Deli South)

Keep an eye out each week for details on the challenges, HAVE FUN AND GOOD LUCK!

October 2014: Lets’s Talk about Lats, Baby!

Let’s Talk about Lats

Why are our latissimus dorsi AKA our lats, important for pain, posture, and athletics? The lats play a big role in controlling the upper extremities. Controlling that upper part of our bodies is important for everyday tasks such as walking or running, sitting upright, and maintaining proper posture. Weak or tight lats affect all these movements in a negative way, whether that may be by causing back pain, or by prompting other muscles to compensate for what is lacking in the lats. So if the LATS are too weak or too tight, you can imagine how that would impact back pain.

A teenage gymnast presented us with a long history of low back pain. It soon became clear that she had tight lats. After this issue was addressed and the lats were lengthened to optimal length, an underlying hip asymmetrical weakness was uncovered. This weakness was contributing to poor landing mechanics in gymnastics, thus perpetuating her low back pain. So, that is just one real life example of how dysfunction with the lats can affect athletic performance, but you can see how this could also affect gait, etc.

Gait is the pattern of movement that you use when you walk or run. It is an important functional movement that requires motor control of your core and limbs. Multiple muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones work synergistically to coordinate movement and stability between your arms and legs while walking. The latissimus dorsi works closely with the gluteus maximus, which helps control the lower extremities. Imagine a big X painted on your back, from the right shoulder to the left hip and from the left shoulder to the right hip. When you take a step, one diagonal shortens while the opposite diagonal lengthens. When your gluteus maximus engages on one side to lift your leg behind you, the opposite latissimus dorsi also engages to bring the opposite arm back. This provides stabilization of your torso, especially the sacroiliac joint.

So if you are wondering if YOUR latissimus dorsi is optimal length here is a quick test:

Lie down and bring bent knees over chest and flatten your lower back. Now can you stretch arms with elbows straight and touch the ground. If you could NOT do this or had pain trying than repeat the test and lie with knees bent and arms reaching straight up and lower arms overhead to the floor and see where they stop (Good length if they touch the floor!) and then stretch legs straight and see if improves arm flexibility. If when the legs are straight and THEN the arms go back, your lats are TIGHT!!!


September 2014: Sweat and Smiles

I just heard a great TED talk on happiness:

To summarize this talk, his research supports that when our mind is focused completely on our task we are happier.  I think this is true with exercise as well.  When we are mindful with our exercise and let go of distractions and unrelated thoughts, you can focus your attention on breath and movement of your body instead.  When you do this you are improving coordination and ease of movement.

Mindful exercise is about performing physical activity while focusing inward.

Here are 5 mindfulness practices to improve your fitness routine:

  1. While lifting weights, put your full attention on the muscle(s) you are strengthening.  Really feel your muscles contract and relax with each repetition. Allow your breath to be slow and steady.  As unrelated thoughts arise, let them go and return your attention to your muscles and your breathing.
  2. While running, turn off your iPod and bring your attention to the sound of your sneakers, the rhythm of your breath and the movement of your arms. Notice how you feel during and after your run when practicing mindfulness in this way.
  3. Before a workout, or after your ‘warm up,’ tune in to your body and notice what level of exertion your body is ready for.  If you’re particularly tired on a given day, try skipping your run and doing some gentle stretching and mindful walking instead.
  4. While stretching, bring your attention right into the area you’re stretching. Close your eyes and take 10 slow breaths, as if you are breathing directly into the muscles you’re stretching. Notice how your focus and breath support your body to open up and expand more easily.
  5. During spin class, or when riding your bike, focus your mind on the movements of your leg muscles.  Feel your muscles working in unison to peddle the bike. Smile and take a moment to appreciate the miraculous coordination of your body to perform such a task!
Deep Breathing exercises for ANYWHERE:

Rapid, shallow, erratic breathing is a common response to stress. Slow, deep, regular breathing is a sign of relaxation. 

Learning to control your breathing, even when not engaged in exercise, can help improve well-being and reduce stress. Whether it is in a formal setting or on your own time, simple breathing exercises are valuable.  When done properly controlling your respiration can actually mimic the effects of relaxation.

Here’s how deep breathing exercises work:

  1. Breathe in slowly and deeply, pushing your stomach out so that your diaphragm is put to maximal use.
  2. Hold your breath briefly.
  3. Exhale slowly, thinking “relax.”
  4. Repeat the entire sequence five to 10 times, concentrating on breathing deeply and slowly.

Deep breathing is easy to learn. You can do it at any time, in any place. You can use deep breathing to help dissipate stress as it occurs. Practice the routine in advance; then use it when you need it most. If you find it helpful, consider repeating the exercise four to six times a day – even on good days.