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Movement Versus Medicine: Stretch Physical Therapy

May 4, 2018

It’s predicted that by 2021, Americans will spend as much as $610 Billion on prescription drugs.


Now, I’m not about to claim to be a part of an anti-medication movement. I realize that modern medicine has helped millions of people across the US extend their lives, both in years and in quality. However, we are taught at a young age that we will feel all better if we just take a pill. And in many cases, like when you’re suffering from strep throat, you do. But, there is a lot to be said about America being overly medicated, and under-treated, for their symptoms.


When it comes to body pain, Kim Nartker is determined to change all of that.


Kim grew up watching her mom suffer from spinal stenosis. Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spaces within your spine, which can put pressure on the nerves that travel through the spine .  Kim’s mom was on tons of medication, was overweight, and overstressed. She ended up passing away at 53 years young from a massive heart attack.


One week prior to her passing, Kim expressed her total exhaustion of doctor after doctor giving conflicting opinions and prescribing different medications, none of which seemed to help her mother with her chronic battle. At that point, she made the decision to dedicate her life to preventative health and treatment through proper movement rather than medicine.


Kim started her health journey as an aerobics instructor, a way to balance out her life through her studies. She graduated as a P. T. A (Physical Therapy Assistant), and worked in the industry for 13 years until she decided to open up Stretch Physical Therapy as her way to bridge the gap in the healthcare system. Her goal with opening Stretch PT was to give people who are frustrated with a lack of results and honest opinions a results-driven facility focused on manual therapy and bodywork techniques.


Meriden and I were interested in meeting with Kim because of her passion for preventative health and her holistic approach to body rehabilitation. Imagine a world where you go to a physical therapist the moment you feel part of your body is off kilter, and they provide you exercises to address the weakened area instead of waiting until the injury is impairing your life. This is the world that Kim aspires to create.


Aside from physical therapy, to support holistic, whole body health, Stretch PT offers wellness treatments such as cupping, dry needling, personal training, fitness assessments, stretching programs, and after-care services.


Kim has a team of rockstars, including Dr. Michael Ryan, who we had the pleasure of working with. We came in to experience some of the wellness treatments, and, since I have been having issues with a pelvic tilt/misalignment in my hips which has been causing some strange symptoms such as numbness in my leg and low back pain, Dr. Mike also did a physical therapy assessment. Kim performed cupping on my back as way to pull out the tension and invoke blood flow to the tight areas. Cupping, or Myofascial Decompression technique, is like an inverted massage. The technique pulls skin, tissue, and muscles upward to expel heat and toxins, and, ultimately, relieve pain. Stretch PT suggests performing this prior to joint mobilization to help improve joint motion.  



I have had my fair share of experiences with a physical therapist. I ran a marathon in 2012, was seriously addicted to fitness classes while living in Chicago, and I never have liked recovery days. I was extremely impressed with Dr. Mike’s knowledge and ability to quickly identify all my current conditions. He even pointed out issues that I never knew I had. I walked out of my hour consult with a rolodex of take home exercises to aid with my conditions, and a better understanding of my lifestyle habits that may be causing various issues.


Here is Meriden’s account of her experience:

“I received dry needling and laser treatment at Stretch. Dry Needling is also known as myofascial trigger point technique.  Some people confuse this treatment as acupuncture because the same needles are used are in both treatments. However, the technique is very different. Acupuncture works with meridians and energy. Dry needling addresses muscular trigger points. We all have trigger points. Most of us in our neck and shoulders. Sometimes those trigger points can’t be reached on the surface of skin (through techniques like massage). Dry needling allows physical therapists to get deep down into the muscle and release those points of tightness. Unlike acupuncture, the dry needles stay in for a very short period of time (think 1-3 minutes). Dr. Mike did a few in my low back that stayed in for 3 minutes, and then a few in my shoulder and neck which stayed in for less than 30 seconds each. The needle in my shoulder totally hit something because I could feel my muscle actually twitch and then relax. Despite the scary name, the needles themselves didn’t hurt at all. Dr. Mike explained sometimes during dry needling you can experience muscular pain, but this is usually followed by immense release and relief.  After the dry needling, Kim administered lasering which means she took a tiny wand radiating light and heat and ran it over the places where I received dry needling. Repeated laser treatments of 10-15 sessions can result in pain relief, decreased inflammation, and increased cell regeneration. A lot of professional athletes are now investing in this technique. I’m definitely keeping dry needling in my back pocket for the next time my neck is tight. “





Of course, we just experienced a taste of what treatment is like at Stretch PT. There are numerous options and programs tailored to the individual. Programs start by getting to the root cause (aka, figuring out how the pain developed in the first place), then move on to create a custom plan starting with regaining mobility and increasing stability of the affected area. Once the area is stable, the individual proceeds through a functional program. At the end every program, the goal is for the client to have learned how to live without pain and maintain their pain free life.


Once a client graduates from the program, they also offer tune-up sessions for times when symptoms start to flare again, or if you’re just a little stiff.


We recommend considering Stretch Physical Therapy if you experience pain when you move, or if you have been visiting the doctor about pain and if you are unhappy with your current treatment plan. Stretch Physical Therapy’s original location is in West Chester, with a new office that recently opened in Maineville.


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