From Prevention to Recovery: Insights from a Physical Therapist

Although physical therapy is a relatively new practice, it has become increasingly important over the last few decades as we’ve begun to learn more about how the body works. Traditional surgeries can only correct so many issues without incorporating a more holistic treatment and rehabilitation plan that follows. Furthermore, as a form of preventative wellness, physical therapy has become a reliable way to help patients avoid the need for surgery altogether. Physical therapy will continue to become more important as our overall understanding of recovery, rehabilitation, and wellness continues to develop in the years to come. 

Physical therapists work to promote and restore the health of their patients primarily through easing pain and improving mobility. Typically, they work with a wide variety of patients, seeing those who are working through chronic ailments, such as Achilles Tendinitis, Plantar Fasciitis, Metatarsalgia, lower back pain, and others. We sat down with Peter St. Germain, Physical Therapist and owner of Brunswick Physical Therapy in Troy, NY, to learn more about the work that he does with patients and the tools he uses to ensure complete rehabilitation. We learned four key insights during our conversation:

Insight 1: The body is interconnected through the kinetic chain

In 1995, Dr. Arthur Steindler defined the kinetic chain as “a combination of successively arranged joints in which the terminal segments can move freely.” In other words, while the body is composed of small individual parts, they all work in conjunction as part of a larger interdependent system. The interlinked kinetic chain begins at your feet, runs up your ankles, knees, and hips, into your pelvis and lower back, and through your spine to your shoulders and neck. According to Peter, there is a reliable way to ensure your kinetic chain remains healthy and to improve it if there are issues: through the biomechanics of your feet. Simply put, our kinetic chain absorbs all the shock and impact that our bodies experience from going about our daily lives. So many problems across the kinetic chain originate with the feet, which is why taking care of the feet is not only critical for foot pain relief, but also for back pain management and improving your posture. Maintaining alignment across the body will not only help prevent injury, but will help improve your ability to recover from injury as well. It’s all connected. 

Insight 2: The kinetic chain directly impacts gait

One’s gait, defined as their manner of walking, is a direct result of their kinetic chain. Everybody walks differently, but even still, there are ways of moving that are better for your body than others. An unsteady gait can not only cause chronic, longer-term injuries to develop, but also increase the risk of acute injuries that happen as a result of misalignment. In any gait pattern where there are major displacements within the kinetic chain, there is a greater risk of creating or aggravating existing pain. Peter explains that by normalizing a patient’s gait, one can have a much faster recovery to rehab for lower extremity injuries. Some patients already understand the important role the feet play in their overall biomechanics, asking how to fix pronated feet or how to correct supination. Others don’t understand the connection, and only realize this after experiencing some form of pain and coming to a clinic like Brunswick Physical Therapy to learn about the interconnected nature of the body.

Insight 3: Arch support is universally important

Poor arch support increases the risk of developing injury, which physical therapists frequently see in the patients they treat. Without proper arch support, the muscles and ligaments in your feet tend to strain from the most basic everyday activities, leading to chronic pain that can develop over years of walking (among all the other types of movement that we subject our feet to!). Peter has noticed that most of the shoes his patients wear are truly lacking in terms of support. The best shoes for overpronation require arch support; similarly, the best shoes for supination require arch support – it truly is universally important! Without support, patients who live and work on flat concrete and wooden floors experience pain and injuries that are ultimately avoidable. Simply put, the way to fix pronated feet is by integrating proper arch support into your daily routine!

Insight 4: Insoles play an important role in rehabilitation and recovery

Peter notes that insoles play a role in recovery by creating a more ideal healing environment for the body. At Brunswick Physical Therapy, his team incorporates insoles into their custom programs to reduce pain and improve performance, and to help each patient achieve their optimal health. Typically, this process starts by evaluating the patient’s feet while standing and walking, which includes using a mirror to show them the deficits. The physical therapists then explain in detail how the insoles will optimize an individual’s gait as well as overall performance. He elaborates that in the short-term, insoles will decrease pain and increase mobility as well as return them to work or sports. Over the long-run, insoles will prevent further injury by improving the mechanics all the way up the kinetic chain. Most of the time, insoles are recommended at the very first treatment! After all, whole body wellness starts with your feet.

Physical Therapists trust Fulton

Fulton partners with countless physical therapists to be the trusted go-to insole solution. Fulton insoles are made from cork, which custom molds to the shape of the patient’s foot to support them properly based on their unique arch type, pronation style, and gait pattern. The cork offsets the strain on one's feet experienced by walking on hard surfaces, providing the necessary arch support and heel stabilization to promote a healthy kinetic chain. Beyond the custom molding nature of Fulton, Peter chooses to recommend Fulton to his patients because Fulton is available in accordance with an individual’s foot size. Believe it or not, most other over-the-counter insoles need to be trimmed to the right size and shape of a given shoe! Having convenient insoles that are ready to go like Fulton insoles ensures a proper fit can be achieved, saving time for both his practice and his patients. Fulton insoles allow Brunswick Physical Therapy’s diverse group of patients achieve their recovery and rehabilitation goals, allowing them to return to their normal routines and improve their quality of life. 

More about Peter St. Germain, PT

Peter H. St. Germain, PT, is the owner of Brunswick PT. He has a Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy from Utica College with advanced continuing education in manual therapy and neuromuscular reeducation. Over the last fifteen years, Peter has worked in various Physical Therapy settings including acute care, home care, and primarily outpatient PT rehabilitation. This allows a wide range of experience for him to draw from when assessing and treating his patients.