The Physical Therapy Doctor - September 2023

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September 2023



The Penny Trick Almost Killed Me! Takeaways From My ‘Dangerous’ Childhood

My mom used to drop me and my brother off at junior high school every morning. But after class, it was up to us to make the 25-minute trek from JHS 119 (The Glendale) back home to the Middle Village on foot. On the way, we stopped to do something that, in retrospect, was a little dangerous. It’s one of those situations in life that went right at the time but could easily have gone wrong. What was this thing? Well, my brother and I had to cross the railroad tracks, and one day, he and his friends showed me a trick. If you put a coin on the track before the train comes, the train will squish it flat! I tried it, and by golly, it worked. From then on, we almost always put a nickel or penny down when we crossed the tracks. After the train roared by and smashed it, we went home with a nice souvenir. I thought this was perfectly safe. Everybody I knew was crushing coins on the train tracks, and nobody ever got hurt! But years later, I learned that people have actually died trying this trick. Either they didn’t get off the tracks fast enough and the train crushed them, or the penny shot out from under its wheels like a bullet and killed them.

out for them. Now, it seems like that trust has disappeared. People don’t want to get involved in each other’s business, and we teach our kids to avoid everything in life just in case it might hurt them. I’m not saying kids should be reckless, but the world is full of dangerous things and places — you can’t avoid everything. You have to live your life! It’s like Mel Gibson said in “Braveheart”: “Every man dies, not every man really lives.” I’m committed to living. Sometimes living means sitting at home reading a book, and sometimes it means risking it all to have a laugh with your best friends on the railroad tracks and do something that’s most likely harmless. After all, we weren’t the first kids to try that penny trick — whole generations did it before us, and almost everyone made it through. To this day, Paul McCartney still uses the trains in England to turn coins into guitar picks! If it’s good enough for Paul, it’s good enough for me. Honestly, it was probably more dangerous for my mom to drive me to school in the morning (we could have gotten in a car crash!) than for me to walk home across the tracks. But these days, a lot of people lack that perspective. The older generations knew best. Instead of

Scary, right? I guess it’s no surprise that in the years since my time at 119, they’ve closed off the gate that let kids take the shortcut across the train tracks. Now, no one will get hurt — but no one will have fun crushing pennies, either. I know safety is a good thing, but I also believe what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Back in the 1900s, American moms and dads really believed that! Parents like mine pushed their kids to be independent, and the neighborhood looked

controlling their kids all the time, they gave them the freedom to make their own decisions. They didn’t board up every little thing that could be dangerous, and that made their kids tough. It made us survivors. I bet you were free to roam around as a kid and get into all kinds of trouble, just like me. Maybe you even put pennies on the railroad tracks. I’d love to hear your stories next time you see me!

–Dr. Robert Morea

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THE BEST SLEEPING POSITION for Preventing Neck and Back Pain

Have you ever awoken from a night’s sleep, ready to take on the day, but instead of feeling rested, you notice your neck or back is killing you? Then, for the next few days, you try to avoid turning your head or bending over, resulting in funny stares from coworkers or strangers. While this happens to everyone now and again, it’s not normal and should be a cause for concern if it occurs often. More likely than not, how you sleep is the culprit. Most of us sleep in whatever position feels most comfortable when we lie down, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best position for our bodies. So, if you frequently start your morning with neck or back pain, here are the sleeping positions you should avoid and the position most likely to provide much-needed relief. Sleeping Positions That Cause Neck or Back Pain No. 1: Sleeping on Your Stomach By sleeping on your stomach, you extend and compress your spine abnormally, leading

This causes the muscles and tendons that connect to your top side (the side of your body pointing toward the ceiling) to become shortened. Meanwhile, the connections to the side of your body against the bed become lengthened. This can leave you feeling imbalanced and tight, especially near the anterior or oblique muscles on the side of your stomach. How to Sleep to Prevent Neck and Back Pain If you want to avoid waking up with neck or back pain, the best way to sleep is on your back. By sleeping flat on your back, you promote the natural curve of your spine and avoid putting excess pressure on your organs. Sleeping on your back also allows the muscles and tendons on each side of your spine to balance appropriately without one side becoming longer or shorter than the other due to compression. Tips for Changing Your Sleep Position If you’ve slept on your stomach or side for many years, it may be difficult to adjust to back sleeping, even though it’s the healthier option. Fortunately, you can easily retrain your body using pillows. When you’re ready to try back sleeping, grab four pillows before you crawl into bed and place them in these four positions.

to pain and tightness in your lower back. If you can picture it, sleeping on your stomach forces your spine into a “U” shape, with your lower back (where your spine attaches to your pelvis) at the bottom of the “U.” When you hold this position for hours while asleep, the muscles at the junction of the “U” become incredibly tight, irritating the nerves in that area. On top of that, sleeping on your stomach also puts significant pressure on the abdomen and internal organs.

• Pillow 1: Under your knees.

• Pillow 2: Beneath your lower back.

• Pillow 3: On your left side, against your hips and stomach.

• Pillow 4: On your right side, against your hips and stomach.

These cushions should help make back sleeping more comfortable and prevent you from rolling into your previously preferred position while you sleep. If you have trouble dozing off, try different pillow sizes and densities until you find the best fit. After sleeping this way for a while, back sleeping will become a habit!

No. 2: Sleeping on Your Side When you sleep on your side, you still force your spine into that same “U” shape, but instead of the lower part of your back being at the bottom of the “U,” the middle of your back sags toward the floor.

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Do you want to eat healthier, but vegetables just aren’t your thing? What about pasta? Does that sound more like your style? If so, healthy eating just got a little easier — and more fun. Yes, we said fun! Philips has created an artisan pasta maker that lets you make pasta from any liquid. While there are many videos

online of people adding strawberry milk or root beer to their pasta makers, this product actually offers a really easy way for people to incorporate full servings of veggies into their lives without having to suffer through a plate full of steamed broccoli or spinach. All you need to do is add flour and slowly pour your chosen liquid into the top of the machine, and voilà ! The pasta squeezes out the front into your preferred form, ready to boil and enjoy! The recommended daily amount of vegetables for Americans is approximately 2 1/2 cups a day, which can seem like a lot if you’re trying to force them down. Of course, eating whole veggies with every meal is always best, but if you or your child is a picky eater, pasta isn’t a bad way to get that minimum amount in. But how do you turn a vegetable into a pasta? You blend it! Simply add your desired amount of veggies to a blender with

enough water to make it easy to pour into the machine, and you’re done!

So, if you decide to go the pasta route, here are a few vegetables we recommend blending up:

• Spinach • Tomatoes • Kale • Avocados

• Beets • Peas

• Zucchini • Carrots

If you want to mix it up, you can always blend multiple vegetables together!

Also, you don’t need the pasta maker to make your vegetable pasta dreams a reality — you can use this same method to make it by hand, too! But, if you’re interested in the pasta-maker route, you can find it online by looking up “Philips Artisan Pasta & Noodle Maker.”



TOMATO SALAD Inspired by



• 1/2 cup walnuts • 2 lbs ripe heirloom tomatoes • Kosher salt, to taste • Black pepper, to taste • 1/4 cup smoked blue cheese, thinly sliced • 1 tbsp fresh dill • Chopped fresh Italian parsley, to taste • 3 tbsp olive oil • 2 tbsp red wine or balsamic vinegar • 1 garlic clove, finely minced

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. On a baking sheet, toast the walnuts in the oven for 12–14 minutes. 2. Wash and slice the tomatoes. Place slices on a platter, slightly overlapping. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. 3. Scatter toasted walnuts and blue cheese on top, followed by dill and preferred amount of parsley. 4. In a small bowl, whisk olive oil, wine or vinegar, and garlic to make the dressing. 5. Spoon dressing evenly over salad and serve.

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212-73 26th Ave. Bayside, NY 11360

Hours of Operation: Monday–Friday 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.

2. Stop Waking Up in Pain: The Right Way to Sleep 3. Pasta Maker Turns Vegetables Into Nutritious, Delicious Pasta Walnut and Blue Cheese Tomato Salad 4. Can’t Fall Asleep? Try This Brain Tapping Technique 1. A Dangerous Game From the Past: Did You Play It? INSIDE THIS ISSUE


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 14.5% of Americans have trouble falling asleep every night — that’s more than 48 million people! If you’re part of this sleepless group, we’re pretty sure counting sheep isn’t cutting it. That’s why we’re sharing a sleep strategy that works naturally with your brain and can help you to fall asleep in less time than it would take to eat a bowl of cereal.

The strategy is called “brain tapping,” and it involves using your hands to create “repeated rhythmic patterns,” which our brains naturally love .

thighs lightly using your hands with palms facing down four times, with about one second between each tap and alternating between each hand. You don’t have to hit your legs hard, just loud enough to hear the sound. Do this for 30 seconds. Then, after following the four-tap rhythm for 30 seconds, you’ll slow the taps even further to just two taps with about two seconds between each tap. Do this for about a minute or a minute and a half. Finally, you will slow the tapping to almost three seconds between each tap. You’ll do this for about four minutes, and during this phase, you also close your eyes and take slow deep breaths. After those final four minutes, you’ll be surprised how tired you feel and how quickly you can fall asleep. Sweet dreams!

The auditory rhythm will trigger the brain to “switch over” to the

parasympathetic nervous system. If this sounds familiar, you’ve likely heard of it before. Evolutionarily, our bodies have two states: fight or flight and rest and digest. The sympathetic nervous system controls our body during a fight or flight situation, and the parasympathetic nervous system controls rest and digestion. So, to fall asleep more quickly, we want to “trick” our bodies into activating our parasympathetic nervous system, or the rest and digest state.

So, how do you do it?

To start the brain-tapping process, sit on your bed or a chair. Then, tap your

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Taken it to the next level, kicked it up a notch, increased our value, improved our worth, stepped it up, upgraded to ... WE HAVE UPPED OUR GAME!

ONE-ON-ONE SESSIONS .... all of the time ... every session ... just you and your doctor of physical therapy ... working together ... with the most trained specialists ...

and the highest education ... to get you moving better ... pain free and ... more steady on your feet. WE ARE THE PT DOCTORS ... and ... we are here for you ... with our undivided attention. SO ...

If you haven’t been to us in the past two months, then schedule a free screening at 718.747.2019 to learn how we can help you move better with less pain and/or be more steady on your feet.


The Physical Therapy Doctor 212-73 26th Ave. Bayside, NY 11360 718.747.2019


• Missed out on lunch with your friends due to back pain? • Convinced yourself that your back pain can’t go away? • Found yourself worrying more about your pain than living your life? • Tried EVERYTHING and just want to get back to normal?

THEN THIS FREE WORKSHOP IS FOR YOU! You’ll learn a great deal about how to manage your pain naturally without the need for invasive treatments or medications. What better way to be out and about in the beautiful fall weather? Don’t put up with pain any longer! Register today and give yourself the knowledge and skills you need to reclaim your life! Space is limited and disappearing quickly! To ensure you get a seat, RSVP ... ASAP! Only seven seats are still available. Call us TODAY at 718.747.2019.

WHEN: Wednesday, Sept. 20 TIME: 12 p.m. WHERE: The PT Doctor Clinic

The Physical Therapy Doctor 212-73 26th Ave. Bayside, NY 11360 718.747.2019

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