Spine & Rehab Specialists - May 2022

Take a look at our May newsletter!

MAY 2022

6358 EDGEMERE BLVD. EL PASO, TEXAS 79925 915-562-8525

11855 PHYSICIANS DR. EL PASO, TEXAS 79936 915-855-6466


Want to hear something crazy? Almost exactly 12 years ago, I, Jose (Joey) Gutierrez, walked through the doors of Spine & Rehab Specialists for the very first time. It was around May of 2010. I had no idea that this clinic would change my life, help me find my career, and give me the best mentor I’ve ever had. Let me rewind for a second. Today, I’m a physical therapist and the clinic manager of Spine & Rehab Specialists’ Edgemere location. But back in 2010, I was just a regular guy trying to find my path in life. I was never a straight-A student and I had to work hard to keep my grades up. Still, I got into college and started piling up credit hours without knowing what I wanted to major in.

My brother knew Bonnie from high school, and he told me that Harry might have a different perspective on treatment than the other clinic did. I was skeptical at first, but he was persistent. Eventually, I agreed to apply for a job as a technician. My first day was May 26, 2010! “Harry knew I was going back to school to seek other career paths, but after a few months, he straight- up told me, 'Joey, you're going to be a PT, I see it in you!'” I saw right away that this clinic was different. Harry helped patients one-one-one, and he used his hands to manipulate the spine and neck. I’ve always loved doing hands-on projects like working on cars and building LEGO sets, and I was fascinated. Harry noticed my intrigue with the profession. He knew I was going back to school to seek other career paths, but after a few months, he straight-up told me, “Joey, you're going to be a PT, I see it in you!” That was all I needed to hear. I applied to PT school and, with Harry’s encouragement, left my job at Spine & Rehab to study full time in 2013. Two years later, when it was time to do my clinical rotation, I requested that Harry be my CI and put my knowledge to the test. Harry wasn’t easy on me — there were days I went home feeling like I didn’t know what I was doing and doubting my new profession — but he taught and mentored me well. I got my PT license in May of 2016, and I’ve been at Spine & Rehab Specialists ever since. I’m striving to be even better than Harry one day. When I told him, he said, “Bring it on!”

Fortunately, my brother had an answer.

He’s a physician’s assistant, and one day I went to visit him to talk about the future. I told him I had no idea what I wanted to do, and he said, “Oh, that's easy. I see you as a physical therapist one day.”

I said, “Okay … what’s a physical therapist?”

I really had no idea! My brother explained that PT is a treatment method that helps people recover and get stronger without medication or surgery. He said he saw me as a PT because I’d always been into sports, especially baseball. (I started playing when I was 4 years old.) I wasn’t sure about the whole PT thing, but I was intrigued. My brother told me to start volunteering at different clinics in El Paso to see if I liked the work. So, I did! I volunteered at a clinic in town (not Spine & Rehab), and they hired me on as a technician. I’ll be honest: I didn’t like it that much to pursue a career in it. I thought, “If this is PT, I don’t want to do it.” So, I gave up on the idea. I then looked into a career in nursing and teaching or to become a baseball coach. But once again, my brother came to the rescue. “I still really see you as a PT,” he said when I told him my new plan. “Not every clinic is like the one you worked at. Tell you what — why don’t you give Spine & Rehab Specialists a shot?”

I plan to spend the next 12 years proving what I’ve got!

–Joey Gutierrez

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While surfing the web or visiting your local sporting goods store, you’ve probably noticed the most recent physical fitness trend: massage guns. Massage guns vibrate at a high frequency to help loosen your muscles, increase blood flow, and temporarily ease pain and soreness. While massage guns have been on the market for the last several years, they were mostly for massage therapists and chiropractors to use on their patients. Now, newer models have seen great improvements that make massage guns more accessible to the average consumer. There are many benefits that come with using a massage gun. For people who experience chronic pain, have tension headaches, or suffer from an injury, massage guns can reduce symptoms and even help users feel more relaxed. Massages cause the body to release dopamine, which improves moods, but not everyone can

make it to a massage parlor whenever they need to. That’s what makes this tool a perfect temporary replacement. Since massage guns have exploded in popularity, there are many brands and models to choose from — but there are a few things to consider. Some massage guns are incredibly loud, and that could make massaging your head or neck rather unenjoyable. Also pay attention to the model’s strength and speed levels, since more powerful massage guns can reach deeper into muscle fibers. Other factors to keep in mind are the massage gun’s weight and portability as well as if it’s easy to use (especially if it comes with additional head attachments or works alongside a smartphone app). Massage guns can be expensive, ranging anywhere from $60 to $500. Each model has different features and functions, so make sure you do some research before purchasing one.

The Fitness Boost You Need How Rewards Can Reinforce Healthy Habits

People often talk about why we need to exercise more and eat right. But how do you reward yourself for the new habits you embrace? If you aren't rewarding yourself, then you may find it challenging to stick to your plans.

improper foods are the reward after a run. That’s counterproductive!

Or, what if we decide our reward isn’t worth it to begin with? For example, you might tell yourself, “I don’t really have time for a nice bath tonight, so I’ll just skip my run today.” However, Rubin says that one kind of self-reward is always best: the reward that takes you deeper into your new habit. Reward a new fitness habit right. Finding an exercise you enjoy is one of the most effective ways to reward yourself and continue to build your new fitness habit! If you look forward to working out in a gym environment with gym equipment, then at-home exercises probably won’t feel as satisfying. But

there’s still at-home equipment and sports, such as biking, that you can do to reward yourself, especially if you have a favorite time of day to get outdoors. Other awesome rewards for exercising can include running or yoga socks, a nice water bottle you enjoy using, a new yoga mat, a subscription to a workout program or app, or a fitness tracker. You can also watch fitness videos or documentaries that explain the benefits of your new hobby or habits, which will both educate and encourage you! A fitness habit, after all, is linked to all sorts of long-term health benefits you’ll enjoy for a lifetime.

Don’t be shy to give yourself the boost you need — the right way.

Can rewards be dangerous? In some cases, yes. Gretchen Rubin, author of “Better Than Before,” recently told Medium that rewarding our good habits can be “dangerous.” You might feel the same way. After we get the reward we wanted, it might feel easier to give up the habit or make it more difficult to meet our goals. After all, we might give up on running if we don’t meet our weight loss goals because

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What Are Cravings? How Do I Stop Them? How Playing the Long Game Helps Overcome Cravings

Cravings — they can feel like a comforting friend or a gut- punching enemy, depending on what you’re craving. An estimated 90% of people experience cravings, and, believe it or not, not all cravings are bad. Leaning into our healthy cravings can help establish a healthy diet. Don’t worry, we’re thinking the same thing: “If that’s the case, why do we crave sugary snacks and fatty foods the most?!” It’s complicated, but understanding your brain is a great place to start. What are cravings, really? Decades of research have proven that cravings start in our brain, not our body. This might be shocking for some, since it was commonly believed for a long time that if you were craving a steak, you were probably low in iron.

That means when we’re unhappy, stressed, or needing a pick- me-up, we might start craving foods that comfort us, such as ice cream. How do I stop craving unhealthy things? One thing is for sure: Restrictive diets don’t always work. It’s hard to “rewire” the brain by completely rejecting how it currently operates. Instead, you might want to consider accepting your cravings, but make slow and deliberate changes to how you satisfy those cravings. For example, if you’re craving potato chips, why not try kale chips or another crunchy but healthier alternative that you already enjoy? If you’re craving soda, why not crush some fresh fruit into sparkling water instead? Make it a treat, make it special, but make it healthier. Eating more filling, nutrient-dense food and getting more sleep are also great ways to fight cravings. It leaves little time or room for binging on bad foods. However, a 6-month 2018 study in the National Institutes of Health has shown that flexibility in your diet can make a difference for making real, meaningful changes to your lifestyle long term. By overcoming shame and accepting your cravings, you won’t fear making a single mistake as much. It’s all about playing the long game.

However, the brain connection makes way more sense. Think about it: Does your body love

circulating excess sugar that can lead to health complications, or does your brain enjoy sugar more? After all, sugar releases the feel-good neurotransmitter

dopamine, which our brains love. A chocolate milkshake or lemon bar helps us feel good by literally triggering our brain’s pleasure centers.




• 1 lb spring potatoes, halved • 2 tbsp olive oil (divided) • 8 asparagus spears, trimmed and halved

• 2 handfuls cherry tomatoes • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

• 2 5-oz salmon fillets • 1 handful fresh basil


1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. 2. In an oven-proof dish, combine the potatoes and 1 tbsp olive oil. Roast for 20 minutes. 3. Remove the dish from the oven and add the asparagus. Toss, and bake for 15 more minutes. 4. Remove the dish from the oven and add the cherry tomatoes. Toss. Drizzle with balsamic, then nestle the salmon fillets into the vegetables. Drizzle with the remaining oil, and bake for 10–15 minutes. 5. Remove the dish from the oven, garnish with basil leaves, and serve!

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915-562-8525 | www.SpineRehab.net 6358 Edgemere Blvd. El Paso, Texas 79925

1. Wait … That’s How Joey Became a PT? 2. Choosing the Perfect Massage Gun How Do I Reward My Fitness Habits? 3. Cravings — And How to Stop Them One-Pan Baked Salmon and Veggies 4. Stretching Preserves Flexibility INSIDE THIS ISSUE


Engineers and doctors can agree on one thing: Lubrication is often necessary for joints to function and move properly, including human joints. Every day, your joints create fluid that allows your arms, legs, neck, and back to move properly. But did you know that by stretching and using your full range of motion once a day, you can help those joint fluids preserve your flexibility and balance? Many people are worried about their independence later in life, and an improper sense of balance can be a big part of that. Stretching keeps muscles flexible, strong, and healthy, but the “flexible” part is more important than most people think. Without flexibility, our muscles shorten and become tight — and even with the fluids that our joints create, without regularly stretching, we’ll still be unable to use our full range of motion.

By the time you need your muscles for activity, they’re weak and unable to extend fully. This puts you at risk for joint pain, strains, and muscle damage. Can stretching extend my life? Not only does stretching improve your independence, but it might also help you live longer. Studies show that stretching is linked to improved circulation, and better blood flow can lead to improved heart health and cardiovascular function. Considering that heart disease is the leading cause of death among adults in the U.S., that’s a huge bonus! The benefits of stretching are best enjoyed without injury, however, and that’s why it’s important to warm yourself up before stretching. Although it used to be thought that stretching is the first step before exercise, it’s now becoming more commonly understood that light

activity is better for preventing injuries from overstretching. Physical therapist David Nolan of Massachusetts General Hospital told Harvard Health, “All it takes to warm up the muscles before stretching is 5–10 minutes of light activity, such as a quick walk. You can also stretch after an aerobic or weight-training workout.” If you’re worried about joint pain, it’s smart to stretch as well as build stronger muscles to carry your body weight more effectively — especially around your spine, hips, and knees, which do most of the heavy lifting. Proper stretching and joint

care can take years of effort, but as research shows, it pays off over many decades.

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