Blood Flow Restriction Therapy (BFR)

Although blood flow restriction training (BFR) has been around since the 1970's, it has made a recent surge in popularity due to positive research studies and patient testimonials which have made this system popular in physical therapy settings. Originally BFR training started in Japan with Dr. Yoshiaki Sato and was known as "kaatsu training" which means training with added pressure.1 Last year, FYZICAL - Naperville added it to our growing list of cutting-edge techniques and the results have been promising.

What is Blood Flow Restriction Training?

Blood flow restriction (BFR) training is an exercise technique that places a restrictive cuff on the upper portion of the arm or legs in order to reduce the flow of blood in and out of an extremity.1 Once the cuffs are placed on the desired extremities and inflated, strength or cardiovascular exercises can be performed following specific guidelines to help improve muscular strength, performance, and endurance. BFR training utilizes low load/high repetition exercise parameters to achieve results, which have been shown to be as effective as traditional strength training.2,3,4 While exercising, the reduced blood flow out of the extremity causes an increased accumulation of muscle metabolites and decreased oxygen levels which results in muscle fatigue.1,2 During fatigue there is recruitment of additional muscle fibers in order to perform the exercise which can result in muscle hypertrophy.2 Strength gains and muscle hypertrophy can be achieved at low loads when exercising with restrictive cuffs similar to traditional strength training when using heavy loads.3 Exercising at lower loads decreases the risk of injury, so using BFR cuffs may provide a safer alternative while still achieving similar results as traditional strength training.3 This can be very helpful for people that cannot tolerate heavy loads in order to build strength.

Benefits of using BFR

BFR training may provide benefits such as strength gains, improved blood vessel health/circulation, and bone health. The American Sports of College Medicine recommends training at resistance of 60% or more of 1 rep. max in order to obtain strength gains. Working out with heavy loads such as 60% of 1 rep. max can increase risk of injury especially for certain populations such as post-surgical, following an injury, and for the elderly. BFR training can reduce the risk of injury while still obtaining strength gains because of the use of low loads (10-30% of 1 rep. max).3,4 The key for gaining strength with BFR or traditional strength training is achieving fatigue during the workout. Research has shown similar outcomes in strength gains with BFR training with low loads compared to heavy load training.2,3,4 Strength improvements were tracked based on 1 rep. max strength and has shown BFR training and traditional strength training is improved significantly to a similar magnitude.2 To keep it simple, instead of having to pick up a 30 pound dumbbell and workout your arms to improve your strength, you can use 3-10 pound dumbbells and get a similar result with less risk of injury.

BFR training may also provide benefits to blood vessel health and circulation by improving flow mediated dilation and increasing markers that help maintain and improve blood vessel health/integrity.3 Further research needs to be done to fully understand potential benefits of BFR training on blood vessels.

Lastly, BFR training causes an increased expression of bone formation markers and decreases bone resorption markers showing potential for improving bone health.2 BFR training could be a helpful exercise program for someone with osteoporosis and is safe as they will not have to use heavy loads in order to obtain results.1

Who can Benefit?2

  1. General population
  2. Adolescents, adults, and older adults
  3. After a surgical operation
  4. People suffering from pain, arthritis, decreased muscular strength/endurance, muscle injuries
  5. Athletes

Is it Safe?

Many may be concerned about the possible effects of disturbing haemodynamics while exercising, but if implemented and used correctly BFR training has not been shown to present any greater risk than traditional exercise modes.2 When used properly, blood flow is reduced and never occluded which permits safe exercise. Communicating with a medical professional that is knowledgeable and trained with the BFR exercise technique is important.

How to use BFR for Training

There are different brands of BFR belts that can be used, we are most familiar with B-Strong BFR belts which are easy to use and safe if recommendations are followed.

  1. First determine the belt size needed for your arms and/or legs by measuring the circumference of the upper portion of your extremities.
  2. Measure between the bicep and deltoid for the arms and just below the groin for the legs. Place the belts in the same place as you measured and tighten them.
  3. Use the pump and pressure gauge to accurately set the recommended pressure which is provided to you if using the B-Strong BFR belts.

Exercise Guidelines

  1. Always consult with your physician or a medical professional prior to starting BFR training.
  2. Hydrate before, during, and after using BFR.
  3. Workout for twenty minutes and release pressure, never workout longer than twenty minutes for safety.
  4. Perform 3 sets of 30 repetitions (or till fatigue), with 30 seconds of rest in between each set, attempt 3-6 exercises within 20 minutes and take a minute rest in between each exercise. First time, limit yourself to 3 exercises and progress as you gain experience.
  5. Use low load (15-20% of 1 rep. max), high repetition with BFR to get to fatigue, never use heavy weights.
  6. B-strong BFR has a guidance app to help with types of exercises. Target different muscle groups during a workout. Include exercises that work muscles above and below the belt.

Personal Experience

I was trained, along with two other physical therapists at our clinic last year using the B-strong BFR bands. I have used them with some of my physical therapy patients and for myself. I have my own set at home that has helped add more options to my exercise routines and has helped improve my strength. Many of the home exercises I perform utilize my own body weight in order to increase my strength such as pushups, dips, pullups, planks, etc. I have been able to challenge myself even harder with adding the BFR bands to my routine. I can get a great workout in only 20 minutes when using the bands. I try to change my exercise routines often to keep my body guessing and using the BFR bands helps me do this. I did not have to buy a lot of weights, which can be very expensive as well, because the bands are very suitable for improving strength. When using the bands, I quickly can feel the burn and benefit from the exercises and feel accomplished. I do not always use the bands to workout. I still use some of my traditional strength training routines, but the bands help add a unique option to my training.

I have also used them with a variety of physical therapy patients, which include patients following orthopedic surgeries, some with neurological weaknesses from nerve compression in the spine, athletes, and general deconditioned patients. All of the patients tolerated the BFR training and continued to safely use them throughout therapy to help improve their therapy progress.


BFR training is an alternative strength training technique that can be used with a variety of people, including physical therapy patients as well as the general public. When following specific guidelines BFR training can be safely implemented to help gain strength similar to traditional strength training. BFR training is continuing to be researched as the effects from training have not been fully studied or understood yet, but most research has shown promising benefits. BFR training has helped both my physical therapy patients and me, so in my professional opinion, it may be an option that can help many people.

If you would like to know more about this technique, please call us at 630-369-1015 or visit our website at


  1. Patterson SD, Hughes L, Warmington S, et al. Blood Flow Restriction Exercise Position Stand: Considerations of Methodology, Application, and Safety. Frontiers in Physiology.May 2019:N.PAG. Accessed January 27, 2021.
  2. THOMAS K. The Benefits of Blood Flow Restriction Training for Rehabilitation. Co-Kinetic Journal. 2019;(79):24. Accessed January 26, 2021.
  3. Early KS, Rockhill M, Bryan A, Tyo B, Buuck D, McGinty J. Effect of Blood Flow Restriction Training on Muscular Performance, Pain and Vascular Function. International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy. 2020;15(6):892-900. Accessed January 25, 2021.
  4. THOMAS K. The Benefits of Blood Flow Restriction Training for Rehabilitation. Co-Kinetic Journal. 2019;(79):24. Accessed January 26, 2021.

Incrediwear: These products really are in – cred – i – ble!

Whether it’s to improve performance, promote healing during rehabilitation, or help you move pain-free in your daily activities, Incrediwear offers a variety of products from head to toe. Infused with a blend of elements like germanium and charcoal, which as stated on their website, “release negative ions when stimulated by body heat,” makes these products unlike any other compression sleeves available today. Incrediwear aids in reducing inflammation, swelling, and pain while increasing circulation and accelerating recovery to those areas that need it most. A video (under a microscope) can be found on the Incrediwear website showing the rate of blood flow through the capillaries when the product is worn. The difference in blood flow speed almost doubled when the Incrediwear item was worn compared to when it wasn’t!! With an increase in blood flow, more oxygen and blood can be facilitated to the injured or painful site leading to a quicker healing process.

Here at FYZICAL – Naperville, we offer a variety of Incrediwear products including back and shoulder braces, knee and ankle sleeves, along with ankle and knee-high socks. Whether you suffer from poor circulation and inflammation, or experience daily aches and pains, we have many styles to choose from. Many of our patients and even current therapists have tried Incrediwear to help with some of these issues and have seen and felt great results after just wearing their Incrediwear overnight.

We’ve received many testimonials regarding how much Incrediwear has helped individuals suffering from daily aches and pains or swelling and has allowed them to do their daily activities with much less pain. As mentioned in one of our Facebook posts, a patient who tore a ligament in her knee (confirmed by an MRI) stated she could not put weight on her leg until she wore the Incrediwear knee sleeve for 24 hours. The next morning, she could walk with a limp and had a reduction in pain.

We’ve received many testimonials regarding how much Incrediwear has helped individuals suffering from daily aches and pains or swelling and has allowed them to do their daily activities with much less pain. As mentioned in one of our Facebook posts, a patient who tore a ligament in her knee (confirmed by an MRI) stated she could not put weight on her leg until she wore the Incrediwear knee sleeve for 24 hours. The next morning, she could walk with a limp and had a reduction in pain.


Mary Rachford, physical therapist and co-owner of FYZICAL – Naperville stated, “I have never been more impressed with a product in my 32 years as a physical therapist than I have been with Incrediwear. My patients are coming back with reductions in pain and swelling and asking for a second one because they like it so much. I wear the socks every day and sometimes through the night after recovering from a volleyball game. These sleeves have been a game-changer for our patients.”

Mary has also tried the Incrediwear wrap, knee sleeves, and socks on one of her patients. “She suffers from major edema in her legs due to lack of mobility, joint pain, and arthritis. This patient had been wheelchair-bound for over 9 years and thanks to PT and OT she has lost over 40 pounds in 7 months and is now able to walk 75 feet with a walker several times in each therapy session”. The addition of the Incrediwear products recently has made a large impact on this patient by decreasing much of her edema and swelling, as seen in the pictures to the right.

As pictured, our very own occupational therapist and co-owner Dina Kartsonas also wore her Incrediwear shoulder sleeve alongside with NETFLIX’s Ultimate Beastmaster and American Ninja Warrior, Brian Redard, in order to help relieve pain, recover, and heal faster after an intense workout.


Several of our patients have taped their experience with the product. If you are interested in learning about the benefits of Incrediwear you can visit their website at for more information and testimonials on their products.

Click here to learn about a FYZICAL – Naperville tennis elbow success story.
Click here to learn about a FYZICAL – Naperville shoulder success story.
Click here to learn about a FYZICAL -Naperville knee success story.
As always, you can call (630) 369-1015 or visit our social media platforms at, our Facebook page at FYZICAL Therapy and Balance Centers – Naperville, Twitter, and Instagram.

A Review of “Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art”

By: Mary Rachford, PT

“Breath” could be a word to define 2020. Many people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and are dealing with shortness of breath. Sadly, some have passed away taking their last few breaths alone. Wearing masks for extended periods of time can make it difficult to breathe for some, myself included.  It is hard to forget the words of George Floyd’s, “I can’t breathe” prior to his untimely death. Who is not “holding their breath” waiting for the political climate to change?

I have just finished reading the new book Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art by James Nestor and have a new appreciation for this undervalued but most vital physiological process. As a physical therapist and yoga student, I have always been aware of the many health benefits of breathing techniques, but over the past few years I have come to realize there are so many different kinds and now love learning about what is truly supported by science.

Mr. Nestor delves deep into the history of breath work. He spent 10 years studying it and offering up his own body for scientific experimentation to find out more information. To say he is obsessed with this subject is an understatement, however, I do believe it is a healthy obsession.

Mouth Taping

Yes, you did read that correctly, Mouth Taping.  I had never heard of this technique that has been around for decades.  After reading about the benefits, I could not wait to try it. I have a deviated septum, which approximately 70% of us do, and that makes it harder for me to breathe out of one nostril. I had become a mouth breather at night which is not good for my health. As high as 80% of us sleep with our mouths open!! All we need is a proper reminder at night to keep the mouth closed. Do not be afraid to try it as no one has ever died in their sleep from mouth taping, however it’s not for everyone especially if you have clogged up sinus cavities.

Kinesiotape can be found around the house of many physical therapists so that was my tape of choice. I used a small piece (¼” x 1”) to lightly close my mouth before going to sleep. After getting past the laughs of my husband, Gary, when he walked in the room and asked me a question that I could not answer, I drifted off to sleep. As predicted by the author, I would not get through my first night with it on. It’s not that it was uncomfortable, because it wasn’t, I just don’t quite know why I took it off after two hours. Undeterred, I taped again the next night and made it through with no problems. I woke up early, had no need for water during the night and felt well rested.

Now four weeks in to my experiment I can honestly say I am hooked. I did try it last night without the tape for part of the early morning, as Mr. Nestor said the point of mouth taping is to train yourself to sleep with your mouth shut. I woke up with my nose clogged, tired and with a very dry mouth after just a few hours. Gary also said he could hear me breathing through my mouth.  They say it takes 30 days to create a habit, but it varies from person to person depending on many factors. I am not worried and have no trouble continuing this practice to help me breathe better.

Here are some of the benefits of Mouth Taping:

  • An increase in Nitric Oxide production. After age 45, this short-lived chemical which is hard to make declines. It is anti-viral, anti-bacterial, helps us relax, makes us happy and it may also improve your blood pressure.
  • It can reduce our risk of getting cavities. The pH of our mouth drops when we mouth breath, increasing our risk of developing cavities. It may also improve the smell of our breath. I shared this with my dentist yesterday at my check-up and he agreed. He had heard of mouth taping and was going to try the taping that night to see if it would help his own breathing issues.
  • Waking up less tired and thinking more clearly. This is my own personal experience with mouth taping. It may be due to 15-20% more oxygen getting to my cells throughout my body.
  • Less need for water in the middle of the night. I went from 2-3 drinks a night to zero. A side benefit of this might be reduced trips to the bathroom at night.
  • It may reduce your snoring. I may just have to tape Gary’s mouth shut in his sleep.


Another way to increase the release of nitric oxide if you cannot tolerate the mouth taping is humming. Mr. Nestor states that this powerhouse molecule widens capillaries, increases oxygenation, and relaxes the muscles. Who wouldn’t want more of this? His easy tips:

“Breath normally through the nose and hum, any song or sound”

“Practice for at least five minutes a day, more if possible”

I have just started this practice, so I do not have much data to report other than my kids are giving me weird looks, but the dog seems to enjoy it.

History of Breathing

I loved reading about the history of nasal breathing. I was especially intrigued by his story about American artist and researcher George Catlin who, in 1830, left the comforts of his Philadelphia home as an unhealthy man to spend the next six years traveling and living with various Indian tribes throughout the Great Plains. One thing he marveled at was, that although there were no dentists or doctors, most of the tribal people had straight teeth and rarely seemed to get sick or have other deformities. The tribes attributed this to breathing. Catlin called it the “great secret of life.”

Mr. Nestor writes, “The Native Americans explained to Catlin that breath inhaled through the mouth sapped the body of strength, deformed the face and caused stress and disease.  On the other hand, breath inhaled through the nose kept the body strong, made the face beautiful, and prevented disease.”

Catlin went back to live with various Indian tribes at age 56, twenty years after he had first explored the West. He went on to live to be 76, which was double the average life expectancy for that time period.

Despite wanting to, I won’t go into all of the traveling that Mr. Nestor did over the years to research his book. One chapter that really stuck with me was his trip to Paris to view skulls in the underground caverns. Yes, there is an entire network of catacombs that hold the remains of more than six million people. Only a dedicated researcher would take an illegal tour through a creepy place like that to learn more about ancient nasal cavities and jaw development.

The Schroth Method

I was so excited when I got to the part of the book on Katharina Schroth. As a young German girl diagnosed with scoliosis she developed her own way to heal her misaligned spine. Inspired by a balloon, she developed a series of exercises using breathing techniques and stretches. The treatment approach has been practiced for decades in Germany and Spain and was the method I discovered 10 years ago researching for a friend whose daughter was newly diagnosed with severe scoliosis. Learning that there were no therapists trained in Illinois, I encouraged Bill Block, DPT, our newest hire at the time, to get trained in the method. Since then he has helped hundreds of scoliosis clients improve their posture, stop or limit curve progressions and diminish their functional limitations. To read more about this therapy, use this link to visit our website:

More Information on Breath

I encourage you to watch the podcasts and video demonstrations on and read his book. He will give you many tips and methods to help improve your health, feel better and increase your life span. I reached out to this bestselling author and got an immediate reply,

“I was utterly floored when I came across this research, and it’s been thrilling to see other people benefit from healthy breathing practices as much as I have over the years.

Be/Breath well,


Thank you, James, for this incredible piece of work that will change many lives, for the better, for years to come.

It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint

Thirty-four years. Such a long time! Sometimes it has been fun, sometimes it's been a struggle and a lot of work. It has come with much joy but has had some heartaches too. It has taken my unwavering dedication and commitment and a desire to work through the tough times to achieve the best outcome. It has been a journey for sure. No, I am not talking about marriage (although 19 years in, a lot of the above applies). I am talking about long-distance running.

When I reflect on my years of running and why I chose such a grueling sport, I can say it's because it is a sport that has grown with me. When I was young and pain-free, I pushed myself to my physical and mental limits in everything from 5K, 10K and half-marathon races to daily 11-mile runs to a 16-mile race in the corn fields of Wisconsin. Every run had to be harder and faster.

In my 30's, I started suffering from more injuries, including three ankle sprains and plantar fasciitis. As a result, I started incorporating more strength training into my workouts. By doing so, I was introduced to Spartan Races and competed in a 9-mile Super Spartan race at the Cliffs Insane Terrain Park in Ottawa, IL (the name of the park should say it all). The first thing I saw when I entered the park was an ambulance. The race included over 20 treacherous obstacles, some in neck deep water, on a 46-degree morning in October. The inability to warm up for over two hours after the race (my training partner swears I had hypothermia) put an end to that type of competition.

When I reached my 40's, I still had one more unachieved running goal…a marathon. My training started out great until I ran a 13-mile run one morning in early June. I had pain in my right heel which I decided to ignore. The next time I tried to run, though, the pain was intense! An x-ray revealed a stress fracture in my calcaneus (i.e., heel). I had to wear a boot for a month and was unable to run until the beginning of October, which left only five weeks to finish training for the marathon. My only goal was to get to the starting line pain free. I was thankfully able to complete the race and the moment I crossed the finish line, my running mindset completely changed. I decided that day to hand over the reins of competitive running to my older daughter. I told her, "I give this all to you. Take it and run with it…literally!"

I had achieved all my running goals. I no longer had the desire to push myself to my limits. I changed my mindset from competitive running to running for health and fun. I incorporated stints of walking into my runs. I also incorporated more non-impact training days and yoga to spare my joints, decreasing my running from six days a week to three days a week.

Thirty-four years in, running is still the sport I enjoy the most. Nothing beats fresh air, being out in nature, the four different seasons and the endorphin high at the end of the run. It is a sport that requires extraordinarily little as far as equipment and investment and is one that can be done almost anywhere.

If you are contemplating running but do not know where to start, read on.

Top Ten Running Tips

  1. In the words of my daughter's cross-country coach…"Invest in a good pair of shoes or invest in a doctor." I could not agree more. Everyone's feet are different and so are our foot mechanics when we run. I would advise going to a local running shoe store and having an employee perform a running analysis on a treadmill. Try on as many pairs of shoes as you need to find a pair that feels supportive and comfortable. For running, make sure your toes have a finger-width of space between the end of your toes and the front of your shoe. Also note that people typically buy a running shoe that is ½ to 1 size larger than their typical shoe size because one's foot tends to swell when running. Find out the store's return policy (Naperville Running Company took my daughter's shoes and orthotics back for a full refund, no questions asked, after she had worn them running outside for a month).
  2. Consider whether you need orthotics. A physical therapist or running shoe store specialist may be able to help. There are so many kinds of orthotics that it is best to be analyzed for the right kind versus just buying a pair at your local pharmacy. Determine whether you can buy a pair from a running shoe store or need something more custom. Click the link below to view the FootMaxx system that we have been utilizing successfully for over five years and contact us if you would like to do a FREE screen to see if orthotics may be right for you.
  3. Break in your shoes (and orthotics if needed) slowly. Wear them around the house. Pay attention to any areas of rubbing/pain. Do your toes have enough room? Assess your feet after 30 minutes or so. Are there any red areas?
  4. Make sure to do a good active warm up prior to running. Stretch your quads, hamstrings, calves after a run. You can view my post-run routine by clicking on this link:
  5. Dress for the weather but do not overdress. Running gets your blood pumping and you will quickly warm up. Make sure to keep your fingers and toes warm and dry in the winter though!
  6. Know your numbers. What is your resting heart rate? What is your aerobic training heart rate range? Know how to monitor your heart rate while you are running (either via your pulse or use a running watch). I use the target heart rate formula for aerobic conditioning which is 50% to 85% of your maximum heart rate. The max heart rate is 220 minus your age. For example, if you are 40 years old your max heart rate would be 220-40=180 beats per minute. Your target heart rate would be 95-153 bpm (95 bpm is 50% and 153 bpm is 85%). Make sense?
  7. Start slow. Walk until you feel warmed up. Start with a slow jog. Monitor how you feel as you go. Walk as needed. Stop jogging when you feel tired or your heart rate goes above your desired range. Walk and stretch when you are done with your run.
  8. Keep a log. How long did you run?  How far did you go? What was your heart rate? What was your speed (if you care to track this one!) How did you feel? Did you have pain?  Over time, you will hopefully be able to track progress in the length of each run, the speed (if desired), your heart health and your tolerance (each run is easier and/or less painful).
  9. Set goals for yourself. Whether it is to run for 10 minutes without walking, to run 3 days per week, to train for a race, it is good to have goals. It will help to keep you motivated.
  10. Find a running partner. I started running with a friend over 12 years ago. Having someone to run with makes it more enjoyable, keeps me accountable, strengthens our friendship and gives us emotional support. If one of us is having a bad/off day, the other is there to provide encouragement. We have NEVER finished a run and said, "I wish I DIDN'T go running today!"  We have ALWAYS said, "I'm so glad I went!"

I asked my daughter who is a junior in high school and running on the cross-country team if she had any more tips for success and I loved her idea.

Week One: Run for one song, walk for one song, repeat as able.

Week Two: Run for two songs, walk for a song, repeat as able.

Week Three: Run for three songs, walk for a song, repeat as able.

As the title tells you, running is truly a marathon, not a sprint. It is something you can start slow and build upon, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. You can start at any age and run to any age, as long as your body allows. Modifying as you go will prolong your ability to continue to run. Finally, remember one run can change your day, many runs can change your life.

Visit Naperville Running Company at and use code FYZICAL for 10% off your purchase. Visit our website at for information on our services and please follow us on our social media platforms for more helpful information.

Working from Home for Rookies

I asked my husband, Gary, who has worked with me for about 20 years, what he thought a good topic for my next blog would be and he mulled it over for a bit and then said, "How to survive working with your spouse." I was not sure if he was joking but decided that it may be a topic worth exploring, especially since we can be considered "somewhat experts" in this topic while many couples may be recently thrown into this situation.

Working from Home

I recently started working from home, along with millions of other Americans, due to the deadly virus that is currently traveling throughout the states. After 32 years of working in a physical therapy setting, this has been all new territory for me. One of my new roles is now director of social media which entails writing blogs. Truth be told, it has always been my role but due to the demand of working on patients for most of the day, I was lucky if I got out two blogs a year. These days I am shooting for two blogs a month.

My hope is to give you a few tips on not only surviving but thriving, while working with your spouse. I will also give you some healthy advice on how to improve your workstation set up and, finally, what exercises I do at home throughout the day to prevent injuries from forming.

Top 5 Spouse Tips:

  1. When your spouse is on a call, leave the room. I do this for my own sanity as I cannot focus on my work when another conversation is going on (which he must do throughout the day talking to patients and insurance companies). Luckily, I work on a laptop and use this as my cue to head into the family room or the kitchen. It is good to intermittently stand throughout the day, so I place the computer on a higher counter or shelf to work. Just let you spouse know the reason you are leaving, as Gary thought he did something wrong at first when I kept leaving him alone.
  2. Vary your lunch breaks as it is nice to have some quiet time alone on the patio or porch, weather permitting. Occasionally have lunch together or go out and have a picnic after picking up something at the drive through. We did this on Gary's birthday, and almost nothing makes him happier than a Portillo's beef and cheddar croissant with fries.
  3. Encourage each other to get up every 20-30 minutes. I set an alarm on my phone to remind me. Gary can sit for hours and not get up, so I do bug him often to move. He has an adjustable standing desk at the clinic but not as home. I started doing one minute videos that you can view on our Instagram and Facebook pages. Each one gives you two new stretches that you can do at your desk throughout the day, appropriately titled Work Space Work Outs. Check out this link for a sample:
  4. When the day is done, stop talking about work or limit it to 15 minutes. We put this rule in place years ago so the kids would not get sick of us talking about the clinic.
  5. Find something new that you can both enjoy together. We never binge watched anything before as life was always too busy, however, now that we have a lot of downtime in the evening (especially with the horrible Chicago weather we were experiencing through most of April) we highly recommend the quirky yet funny "Schitt's Creek" on Netflix. Only a few episodes are left in the final season and we will need a new series soon so please leave a comment below if you have a suggestion.

I asked a local couple, Rick and Michele, what advice they would give other couples that started working from home together since early March. Their response, "We each work from different floors in our home so we do not get in each other's way. I bring him his daily vitamin every morning and check in on his day, and he gets the mail and checks in with me. Sometimes we eat lunch together, but we try to keep our 'work-day' similar to what it was prior to us both working from home. Working this way, we both keep our sanity!"

  • Working from Home
  • Working from Home

After viewing their photos, I did provide Michele with some tips to improve her arm posture and her screen height. Rick also needed better positioning with his pillow and laptop height but the hat is perfectly situated.

On the flipside, there have been reports out of China that the divorce rates have significantly increased since the lockdown was put in place and some areas reported an increase of 3x the usual amount of domestic violence. Please use some of the advice above and do not become a part of a United States statistical survey like China's!

Workstation Setup

My partner, Dina, is an Occupational Therapist and one of the best in the business, so I would highly recommend this quick video she did with Mitch, one of our awesome physical therapists.

They go through some helpful tips to reduce possible aches and pains that may come along with a homemade workstation. 

  1. Hips and knees should be at approximately 90 degrees with feet flat on the floor. If they do not touch the floor place a small binder or box underneath to elevate the feet.
  2. A small towel or lumbar roll can be used throughout the day to help improve your lower back curve and posture.
  3. Elbows should also be about 90 degrees, may be slightly greater but should not be less as this can cause strain on the muscles. Wrists should be neutral and float while you type. Keep the elbows close to the body as you type with the shoulders relaxed, not hunched up.
  4. Your monitor should be about an arm's length (20-40 inches) away with the top of the screen at or slightly below eye level when you are sitting up straight. See this link for more details on screen adjustments,


There is a nice check list at this link that will go through every aspect of your workstation if you want to take a deep dive into proper ergonomics.

Injury Prevention Exercises While Working from Home

According to an article by the American Physical Therapy Association, among all occupations, office workers are at the highest risk for neck pain, with approximately half experiencing neck pain each year. The good news is neck and shoulder strengthening exercises can help to reduce this pain. See this link for details on their findings:

For a list of specific neck and shoulder strengthening exercises that may be best for preventing neck pain, contact me at and I will email them directly to you.

Please try to incorporate some of my suggestions into your daily routine, at the very least get up and move around every 20-30 minutes and hug each other occasionally. We are lucky we have someone to touch as so many are sheltering in place alone and are missing that important connection to other humans. In the words of Randi G. Fine, "No other form of communication is as universally understood as touch. The compassionate touch of a hand or a reassuring hug can take away our fears, soothe our anxieties, and fill the emptiness of being lonely."

Love Your Life (LYL),


Discount Codes!

Mary in surgical mask

We hope this correspondence finds you healthy at home. We are continuing to see some patients in the clinic while taking extra precautions to keep everyone safe. We are also conducting sessions via telehealth communications.

We have asked several of our preferred partners to set up codes to make ordering supplies from home easier for those who are at higher risk and need to stay home. Below is a list of websites and codes that you can use to secure discounts from our preferred vendors.

  • - Shop at our Incrediwear store for 10% off all products.
  • - use code Naper10 for 20% off CBD Tinctures, Balms, Colloidal Silver, PuraCleanse and other supplements.
  • - use code Naper10 for 10% off all CBD products.
  • - use code Naper20 for 20% off Hip Halo and other strengthening devices for home programs.
  • - use code FYZICAL for free shipping on orders over $19.99 (plantar fascia sleeves and socks are extremely helpful for foot pain).
  • - click on nutraMetrix icon for our supplement page link, use code 15offMA for 15% off.
  • -use code FYZ10 for 10% off all products.
  • - use code Fyz60563 and receive $100 off a new Juvent platform system.

Please continue to stay in touch via Facebook, Instagram or Twitter and subscribe to our You Tube Channel at this link

We will be posting more videos in the future. We miss seeing you and look forward to the end of this shelter in place order. Please reach out if you are in pain, we have many ways we can help you from a distance.

Love Your Life,

Mary, Dina, Bill and Team FYZICAL – Naperville

Love Your Life

Top 10 Lockdown Health Tips

As I look back on the past four weeks, it really seems like it has been a much longer time period. I must admit that I was not sleeping very well the first week due to the constant worry that the business we had built up over the past 25 years could potentially close due to the COVID 19 virus. I resorted to drinking one to two glasses of red wine a night, it's good for you right? Well, in moderation, yes, some studies show that, but I was definitely going a bit overboard. "It's 5:00 somewhere became our afternoon saying when it was time to watch our Governor's report on the state of Illinois."

I realized after week two of the shelter in place order, I would have to make some changes. I had been eating very healthy meals and snacks, but with all three of our kids at home, two of whom like to bake, it was hard to resist delicious treats especially after a few glasses of wine. Being a physical therapist, I know that having a healthy immune system is one of the keys to avoiding any virus so I would have to up my game if I wanted to function at my best. I have made some positive changes and have become a much healthier version of myself than when I started the year. I have never been one to make new year's resolutions, however, I try throughout the year to make small changes that, in the long run, impact my life. Here are some things that helped me. Pick a few out for yourself to make the rest of this lockdown a healthier one.

  1. Stay the same weight or don't gain the COVID 19: I started following the TLS Lifestyle (Transitions Lifestyle System) about four years ago and I am grateful they have a week detox kit that helps me when challenging times come along. I became a weight loss coach about that same time and thought the best way to know how to mentor someone would be to go through the process.  It's not a diet but a lifestyle system. Those with a BMI of 28 or more appear to have nearly 6x the odds of suffering a severe case of COVID19 course. The average BMI in the US exceeds 29. ( I learned many new recipes along my TLS journey, some that even my kids have enjoyed. Who knew cauliflower can be used in place of tortillas? I even made up a recipe last month called Quarantine Quinoa, you can view my demo here:
  2. Eat Right For Your Type: I met an incredible nurse named Linda Sereika ( who examined my blood a few years back and suggested "Eat Right For Your Type". That's a blood type diet based on a book by Dr. Peter D'Adamo. I am an A+ blood type so I do better with a plant-based diet which I was doing for the most part. I did have to omit some nightshade veggies, go gluten-free (which wasn't too hard, as I have two kids with Celiac Disease) and give up red meat. Not that I have been committed to it 100% of the time, but I must say I have more energy and sleep better when I do stick to the guidelines. Thank God red wine is beneficial to my blood type!!
  3. Take Supplements:  First of all, I want to be very clear that there is no research that shows taking any supplement will prevent or cure COVID19. Linda had suggested a few supplements based on the findings from my blood analysis and recently I completed a Gene SNP analysis through our supplement company nutraMetrix. I had been having success taking Vitamin D and B-Complex and one of our products has both of those added into a multivitamin called Isotonix Essentials Anti-Aging which makes it easy to take first thing in the morning. Adding Digestive Enzymes with probiotics and ACTS into the mix has also been helpful during these trying times.

    Digestive Enzymes are catalytic proteins that help the body break down food to utilize the complete spectrum of nutrients in the food we eat. They help replenish the essential enzymes and "good" bacteria in our gut. Other benefits include supporting the immune system, supporting the body in maintaining proper digestive functions and promoting healthy bowel movements. Who wouldn't want that?

    ACTS stands for Adrenal, Cortisol, Thyroid and Stress Support and truly helped me get some solid sleep when the stress levels were up due to working 10-12 hour days. Linda suggested to me that my adrenal gland may be overworked which could possibly suppress my thyroid function. Cortisol levels have a direct relationship with the thyroid; the right amount of cortisol will allow the thyroid to function normally. The problem is constant stress can lead to excess cortisol production which stimulates glucose production. The extra sugar is typically converted into fat and can lead to binge eating. Thankfully, the ingredients of Holy Basil and Ashwagandha help to promote healthy adrenal gland function and minimize weight gain that is associated with increased stress.

  4. Start the day with warm lemon water: The TLS program started me on this habit, and I enhanced it by adding green tea. See the link below for the list of reasons.

  5. Participate in daily Yoga: I truly enjoyed the Yoga classes we offered at FYZICAL - Naperville 3 days a week and once it stopped, I realized how tight I had become, especially when sitting at a computer for 8 hours a day. I encouraged our fantastic instructor Sharon to try to stream it through Facebook and although a little apprehensive at first she did agree and her classes have helped hundreds of people reduce their stress levels and take an hour off from the 24/7 coverage of the pandemic. Please sample a class.
  6. Bring back the joy of Ping Pong: Last year we brought our old ping pong table in from the garage for a large family gathering to use as a dining table, we decided to leave it in our "great room" and I am so glad we did. Nightly games have become quite competitive at the Rachford home. I remember reading in one of Dr. Daniel Amen's books about brain health how good ping pong is for the brain and after this month I can truly agree. I miss playing volleyball and pickleball so much but Ping Pong and Wii's "Just Dance" have kept my brain from deteriorating. Sting pong, now that's an entirely different story. If you don't know what that game is, ask a youngster.
  7. Determine your BodyQ score at FYZICAL: BodyQ is an integrated testing program addressing movement, function, general health, vision, hearing, balance, and recovery. Its primary function is to save you injury and damage down the road. The test will also help you in other ways, whether you want to increase your energy levels, recover from injury or illness, run your first 5K, lose 10 pounds, or just feel stronger. BodyQ testing can jump-start you on the way to achieving your goals. It helped me get on a healthier path at the beginning of this year and I am glad I know my score. Call the nearest FYZICAL to find your BodyQ once we can all return to normal or by going to We will be offering a 50% discount on this one hour test in the summer.
  8. Mary and Wyatt

    Get a dog: We adopted a rescue dog five years ago. Wyatt was about a year old when we got him. Among the many responsibilities that come with dog ownership, walking the dog is a very good form of exercise – for the dog and for me too! It is nice to go for a long quick-paced walk with him. I enjoy nature during our time away from the shelter in place order. Of course, the unconditional love he offers always brightens my day. He is truly enjoying all the extra bodies around the house, too.

  9. Get more sleep than usual: I have always enjoyed getting eight hours of sleep a night. I think it goes back to my Irish mother making my five siblings and me take naps until we were in 3rd grade. I think she just enjoyed the peace and quiet when we were all sleeping so she would also make us go to bed early. What I have truly enjoyed during this time has been nine to ten hours a night, I know that sounds crazy,  but I am not a big TV fan so there really isn't much to do after ping pong and reading for a bit at night. I haven't been setting an alarm, just waking up when my body tells me to, and it feels good. I wasn't sleeping so soundly as I mentioned at the beginning of this blog, so I have resorted to a little supplemental help using Prime Dreamz (melatonin, magnesium, chamomile and passionflower blend) and Turn Down (designed for relaxation, featuring a custom blend of vitamins, amino acids and minerals in one packet that helps to quiet my body, mind and supports quality sleep). See our website and click on the nutraMetrix icon to get to our supplement page, use code 15offMA for 15% off off your order.
  10. Practice self-care:  Take this extra time and do something you enjoy, don't put pressure on yourself to get a lot of projects done. I was doing that until I read this great article my sister shared with me. I will no longer feel bad that my basement still looks like a disaster has hit it or that I have not taken up playing the piano again. I will enjoy long sleeps, quiet Yoga classes and sitting on the front porch with my husband and three children who won't be around the house much longer and be happy for this time we all have together.

In closing, I hope that you can all remain healthy at home and find joy in the small things that many of us, including me, have taken for granted over the years. In the words of Naval Ravikant, "Doctors won't make you healthy. Nutritionists won't make you slim. Teachers won't make you smart. Gurus won't make you calm. Mentors won't make you rich. Trainers won't make you fit. Ultimately, you have to take responsibility. Save yourself."

Love Your Life (LYL)
Mary Rachford, PT

Telehealth with FYZICAL – Naperville

Telehealth with FYZICAL - Naperville

The COVID-19 virus is affecting all aspects of our lives right now.  Many things have been put on hold for the time being but one thing that doesn't take a break for some is chronic pain. The financial and mental stressors that have developed over the past few weeks only add to the level of pain and anxiety that many are enduring.

Because of health and safety reasons, most of our patients have put their physical therapy appointments on hold over the past three weeks. Some, however, are utilizing virtual physical therapy to continue their treatments in the home setting and the results of these telehealth sessions have been very positive. Physical therapy doesn't just consist of Powerful Touching. In fact, most of our sessions consist of instruction in-home exercises, education on proper postures and body mechanics, and many self-help techniques and resources to improve your diet and the quality of your sleep. All of these tools can be shared over a platform such as Facetime, or, three popular ones than many are using during this pandemic.

For those of you with new injuries or pains that you may be ignoring, don't wait. Try a telehealth physical therapy visit today. The State of Illinois has mandated that it will be covered by your insurance company the same as if you were in a clinic setting. Many rehab clinics are new to virtual visits, however, at FYZICAL - Naperville, Dr. Bill Block has been utilizing this new form of health care delivery for some time as many of his scoliosis patients travel a great distance to see him. He is one of the few trained physical therapists in the Schroth method in the state of Illinois and has been practicing this method with great success for over nine years.

Here is a comment from the mother of one of his recent patients, "My daughter really likes the convenience of not having to drive and sit in traffic to get to the clinic. The virtual visits have kept her on track with regular practice of the Schroth exercises and the sessions are really not much different than coming into the clinic for physical therapy. We are very happy that we are able to continue her therapy while staying safe at home."

Here are a few tips to make your virtual visit a success.

  1. Wear clothing that will expose your injured area. For example, if you have a knee injury, wear shorts or if you back or shoulder hurts, wear a bathing suit top (ladies).
  2. Set up your computer in a well-lit room with plenty of space so you can lie down if need be for certain exercises.
  3. Try to have another person present in the house when the session is taking place. If that is not possible, give your therapist two emergency contact numbers.
  4. Have any exercise equipment that you own available, such as light weights, bands or massage balls.
  5. Write your questions and symptoms down before the visit to make better use of your time with the therapist.

Telehealth physical therapy will give you a head start on the rehabilitation process and can be utilized for a number of new or old conditions, such as:

  • Vestibular disorders (dizziness)
  • Acute ankle sprains
  • Acute knee sprains
  • Muscle strains
  • Sudden onset of back or neck pain
  • Chronic back pain
  • Follow up and progressions of an existing exercise program
  • Instruction on how to use an assistive device such as crutches or cane

At FYZICAL - Naperville we want to continue to be available for our patients while avoiding the potential unnecessary exposure to the COVID-19 Virus. Many things are changing very quickly in health care right now so everyone can remain safe in their homes. Unfortunately, this could also cause more inactivity with a subsequent loss of balance and strength. What we don't want to see happen is an increase in deaths related to falls in the home. According to a 2010 study, the 1-year mortality rate after sustaining a hip fracture has been estimated to be between 14% and 58%. (

If you have a senior in your life who is not exercising, please direct them to our Facebook page or visit our website where you can access the videos through our direct Facebook link (on the left side - you don't need to have a Facebook account to do so). We have been streaming free videos of Yoga classes, seated chair exercises, meditation videos and even a few cooking demos.

We are all in this together and hopefully one day soon we will get back to seeing our community come through our doors with smiles on their faces instead of masks. Please keep in touch and let us know if we can help you in any way during this pandemic. If you are interested in setting up a virtual physical therapy visit or a weight loss consultation, give us a call at 630-369-1015.

From the FYZICAL - Naperville team to you, please stay healthy and active at home.

Myofascial Decompression AKA Cup Therapy

Michael Phelps | Myofascial Decompression | Cup Therapy

Michael Phelps garnered much attention at the last summer Olympics not only for his record collection of gold medals, but also for the odd looking symmetrical circles that covered his back. He used the ancient healing technique to possibly advance his training and probably to recover from the grueling workouts that he puts his body through in order to prepare for competition.

At FYZICAL Therapy and Balance Centers - Naperville, we have been using myofascial decompression (MFD) for about two years to assist patients with their rehabilitation and finding that despite a few bruised circle marks many patients are having successful outcomes and asking for it on a weekly basis.

So, what exactly does a treatment look like you ask? The therapist uses a lotion like cocoa butter or the pain-relieving cream, FYZICAL 123, over the area to be treated. A plastic cup matching the size of the tissues is placed over the area. A tube is then attached with a suction pump at the end. The therapist begins to pump the device several times to lift the tissues into the cup. This will remain in place for anywhere from 2-5 minutes on average. More cups may be placed above or below the area and the therapist may ask you to perform exercises while the suction is taking place. This often times seems hard but after several repetitions it does get easier. Finally, the therapist may release a small amount of pressure which makes it easier to drag the cup across the lifted tissues providing more of a massage effect. Often times, manual or tool assisted soft tissue releases will follow the MFD to add healing benefits.

Chris DaPrato, PT, MS, DPT, SCS, CSCS, PES is an Assistant Clinical Professor for The University of California - San Francisco and has been instrumental in bringing MFD, a term he coined, to the rehabilitation industry. His own personal experience with a successful cupping session lead him to research the technique and the results have been promising. Dr. DaPrato was our instructor two years ago in Naperville and provided a wealth of information on the technique.

His own website has numerous videos demonstrating the techniques, as well as his research abstracts. One question you may have is what are the differences between MFD and cupping? According to Dr. DaPrato, "MFD is based on assessing and correcting movement inefficiencies. Backgrounds in biomechanics, kinesiology, and functional anatomy are essential to identify and treat ROM restrictions and muscular imbalance. Interventions include neuromuscular re-education, AAROM, and PNF, making the patient an active participant in their treatment. Traditional cupping does not include active movement, and often is targeting energetic imbalances from a traditional Chinese medicine perspective. MFD is a novel approach to musculoskeletal treatment, utilizing negative pressure tools and western medicine based movement paradigms and algorithms. These applications are very effective for orthopedics, sports medicine, contractures, post-op recovery, overcoming dominance strategies, postural syndromes, hand therapy, neuro re-education, and scar mobilization."

A variety of patients have been benefitting from the addition of MFD to our clinic techniques; from Fibromyalgia, to Scoliosis, to Iliotibial Band Syndrome and scar tissue, the results have been significant. I experienced the technique first hand when I went through several sessions for plantar fasciitis and although it was intense at times (I think my therapist - BILL - secretly enjoyed hurting his boss) the results were immediate and I would do it again should I need it. In fact, our massage therapist, Fran, does a massage version of the cupping which I do enjoy twice a month. She uses a variety of different cups which don't involve exercising at the same time, much more relaxing if you do want to experience the technique for wellness benefits. You are still left with bruise marks that last for about a week but they don't hurt and the relief far outweighs the marks. Here is a link to the Facebook video of Dr. Bill Block's treatment on me.

Some of the benefits of MFD:

  • Increased blood flow via negative pressure
  • Reduced muscle stiffness and pain
  • Improved range of motion
  • Elevated space to reduce compression on tendons
  • Assists with healing so athletes can train harder and longer

If you are interested in having a PT session of MFD to assist you with an injury, call (630) 369-1015 to schedule an appointment or visit our website for more information. No prescription is necessary to begin treatment. If you wish to have a massage with Fran and enjoy the relaxing benefits of cupping, call her at (630) 973-9559. Massage packages are available.

How LENS Helped My Sleep

"On a scale of 0-10 with 0 being no anxiety and 10 being severe, where would you put me?"

This was the question I posed to Ajeet Charate, Board Certified Neurobiofeedback Therapist, who was reviewing the results of my QEEG test. I requested he perform one to see if we could figure out why I was having trouble staying asleep at night. Visit Ajeet Charate's website for more information about QEEG.

"10", he said with a very serious look, "So you definitely need treatment."

I was half in shock and half in disbelief as I sat there firing off the next question. "How am I not medicated?"

"Your body has learned to compensate over the years."

This conversation took place a few months ago. I wanted to start out with it to let others know that even though things look like they are calm on the outside there are possible underlying issues that could be causing you difficulties.

Life had changed significantly in the last three years. We changed our business model, ramped up my hours treating patients, added weekend seminars and I was doing more work from home thanks to the age of social media and blog writing. In addition, two of my children were diagnosed with auto-immune diseases, I got a melanoma removed from my leg and was diagnosed with a resting head tremor. You could say there were some increased stressors in my life!! But who doesn't have work and family issues? I may have felt a bit overwhelmed but I ate clean, healthy meals, did yoga 2-3 times a week and even had a weekly massage appointment with our fantastic massage therapist Fran. These were probably several of the reasons I didn't have a stroke when I was so stressed and, now, I had come to find out I had severe anxiety. Whoa!

I had always been a marvelous sleeper. I could sleep anywhere, anytime - trains, planes, sketchy hotel rooms in Scotland, you name it - give me five minutes and I would be out cold for 8-10 hours. Sometime around the age of 48 things started to change. I chalked it up to getting older but knew that it was starting to affect my focus during the day. After trying all of my science based techniques, exercises, foods and supplements, I knew it was time to get help. A new Essentia mattress provided a more restful night for me and even when I was awake for 1-2 hours at night, my body felt great in the morning because I remained comfortable on a healthy, organic mattress. If you are on the market for a new bed, visit and use our code FYZ005 for a 15% discount on mattresses. The addition of a supplement called ACTS (Adrenal, Cortisol, Thyroid Support) also had a dramatic effect on my sleep. I can't imagine what I would have been like if I didn't have that available to me because I am a nutraMetrix supplement supplier and knew about its benefits. Visit our nutraMetrix page for more information.

I am very open to bettering my health so I set up bi-weekly appointments for the next few months for LENS treatment (Low Energy Neurofeedback System). I didn't notice any changes right away, but after 3-4 weeks, I no longer was waking up for long stretches of time. I did wake up a few times, but was able to quickly fall back to sleep and soon enough I wasn't even waking up at all, except for the occasional trip to the restroom (another sign of getting older!).

So, what is this technique that looks like something out of a sci-fi movie? According to Ajeet:

LENS is a revolutionary technique for restoring optimal brain functioning. LENS appears to address the underlying neuropsychological functions as a rehab tool increasing the self-regulatory capabilities of the brain. It appears to do this by re-toning the brain's reactions to stimulation, interrupting the inhibitory self-protective mechanisms of the brain that interfere with connectivity, and facilitating cortical functioning that integrates subcortical electrical activity and normalizes recorded scalp potentials. The emphasis is on disrupting dysfunctional patterns and letting the brain re-establish the connections without micromanagement.

The system feeds back information to the brain by using a faint (1000th) radio frequency signal that is based on the person's EEG. The power of the signal is much less than the radio waves that surrounds us every day. This is done at 21 locations on the scalp. The LENS prompts an updating or examination of the brain function at that location. An analogy might be similar to rebooting your computer for a fresh start or defragmenting your hard drive (brain) for optimal system performance.

Lens Therapy Session

The change can sometime be noticed in a moment or may take a few hours to appear. This is often reported as welcome feeling of calm and control. The brain recognizes efficiency and adopts it as a new way of working. Symptom improvements follow naturally. This is often noticed as a surprising increase in competence, functionality and relaxation.

LENS therapy may produce rapid improvements in a wide variety of issues. We typically see improvement in the quality of sleep, cognitive functioning, motivation, mood, and motor skills. Clients have reported the additional benefits of reducing anxiety, migraines, headaches, PTSD symptoms, depression and pain. Many have been able to get off prescribed medications. Improvements sustain even after ending therapy.

Beyond these, LENS may help the best and brightest to be better and brighter in all realms of life.

Severity Scale:

Over the next few weeks my family noticed a reduction in my head tremors which at the time of writing this blog have almost completely stopped. I truly am thankful, considering my PCP told me there was no treatment other than medications which may not even work and have side effects - no thank you. Several colleagues and friends had noticed the tremor but never told me, as they thought I had developed Parkinson's Disease or some other neurological condition. The next step will be determined based on a follow-up QEEG which will happen in a few weeks. I most likely will cut treatment down to once a week if things are going well and then hopefully get discharged with a new sense of calm and focus. Often times, the lyrics of Jimmy Nash's Song "I Can See Clearly Now" play in my head:

I can see clearly now, the rain is gone,
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It's gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright)
Sun-Shiny day.

If you would like to learn more about this approach, attend the next FYZICAL Forum on August 12th at 10:30 am. Space is limited and registration is required, so call today and reserve your spot at (630) 369-1015.