VOLUME 1: EXERCISE
JANUARY 21, 2021
CELEBRATING 20 YEARS!
It would be an understatement to say we are glad to see 2020 behind us. Our heartfelt sorrow goes out to everyone who experienced illness, loss, and hardship. At EW we realize, now more than ever, healthy lifestyle choices are key to physical and mental well-being. We hope the EW Keys to Healthy Lifestyle Blog can play a small role in your wellness journey. In this edition, we celebrate 20 years of EW! Mike Eskridge, cofounder, captures the very essence of our humble beginnings, our growth, and looks towards our future. If you are looking for some creative ways to kickstart healthy movement practices, Ivy Spencer shares why walking should be your first step. Do you want more energy and less stress in 2021? Jesse Douglas’s piece on exercise, energy, and stress is full of great strategies! And finally, moving better, feeling better, and living better starts with breathing better. The review of James Nestor’s book: Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art is a great place to start. In closing, we wish everyone a healthier, happier, safe, and productive New Year!
Move Better, Feel Better, Live Better!
Celebrating 20 Years of EW! An interview with Mike Eskridge.
Mike Eskridge is a physical therapist and the co-founder of EW motion Therapy. He has over 28 years of experience working with client to help them achieve their goals.
Ethan: “Mike, I know we could both say, unequivocally, that the year 2020 has been unbelievably challenging for businesses, communities, families, and the world. So, it really is remarkable that we are sitting here today celebrating 20 years of EW Motion Therapy! And, more importantly, I am happy to say that we are looking forward to the next 20. I’m curious to get your thoughts on our beginning, how EW evolved, and what EW means today?”
Ethan: “So, Mike, 20 years ago we launched what has now become EW, Eskridge and White Physiotherapy. What are your thoughts on the motivating factors we considered to take that leap of faith?”
Mike: “Well, we started the business with the hopes that we could make a living. More specifically, that we could make a living doing something we liked, do it for ourselves, design it our way and hopefully pay our bills along the way. For our first year, that was about as lofty as we got. Let us just make the numbers work and just see if we can do this.”
Ethan: “Mike, you are right, our fear or motivation was to just make a living. Our business model basically boiled down to let’s do everything we can to survive. Remarkably, we had unbelievable success and growth that year and I would like to get your thoughts on our initial success and why we have continued to grow over all these years.”
Mike: “Well, you start to succeed with the right people. Some of it was which doctors started to believe in our practice and started to send patients on a regular basis. And some of it was right place, right time. You really cannot say it any other way. Honestly, we were lucky and sometimes it felt as if we just fell backwards into it. Secondly, we were able to capitalize on opportunities and had good success rates with what we did. So, during that first year of coming together, people really started believing in us. And, regardless of what we did, or how we did it, or the techniques we used, the folks sending clients to us liked the fact that their patients went back to them better, they were treated well, the service was high quality, and they enjoyed their experience at Eskridge and White. Creating an exceptional client experience and high customer satisfaction led to our next levels of success.”
Ethan: “I would like you to expand on that. Over the years, you have really delivered a consistent message to our team. I heard you say this many, many times, “that we have the greatest job in the world! What we do matters!” We have a clear mission and we actively live it. What is it the importance of this to you and why is it foundational to our success?”
Mike: “Because our success is purely rated on our success with our clients. We succeed when our clients succeed. Our passion is the success and progress of others. So, to take what we know and enjoy doing, apply it to people in need, to see it work, and to meet their needs, what could be a better piece of satisfaction than that. First, you enjoy doing it. You are fortunate to be part of a success story! So, your place in the world is even more defined, as a positive. We are doing something that really matters. You know, it is not just punching a clock every day, it is not just clerical work, it really is affecting and impacting someone’s life positively, and then watching it spread. Watching those people take it to the people they love and so on and so forth. It spreads and grows and becomes this very organic entity.”
Ethan: “Thanks, Mike. I don’t think it could be said any better than that! At EW, we get to walk through our doors every day and have the opportunity to make a difference! We are incredibly lucky and humbled for that privilege.”
Ethan: “You know Mike, years ago we made the commitment to become EW Motion Therapy and deliver a full-service wellness and rehabilitation continuum. What are your thoughts regarding our continuum of physical therapy and wellness and how our mission of using our programs to promote health and vitality with our clients?”
Mike: “Whether you are in an EW Wellness or physical therapy program, I do not think our approach has changed from its core. What we do now is what we have always done. We are better at it in that we able to bring in more components that now produce a better end-product or a better end-result over time. Because we have added more and expanded our approach, not just the manual techniques and exercise techniques, but we have really been able to bring those two together to produce a more functional outcome, really improving the quality of someone’s life. An approach that does not just help or control their neck or back pain but gives them the foundations to manage pain so that they can enjoy the things they like to do. It brings those things, walking, golf, playing with their grandchildren, you name it, back into focus.”
Ethan: “I’d like to follow that up with this. Whether it is Pilates, Yoga, Physical Therapy, Manual Therapy, Functional Therapeutic exercise, or personal training, we really stress the importance of our interventions being corrective, individualized, and hands on. What does that mean to you?”
Mike: “Well, there are very few experiences in healthcare that you receive any level of that at all. That someone sits down with you and tries to search out your uniqueness. That takes the unique qualities you possess, truly listens to what they are, and expands upon that. That builds interventions around that person’s uniqueness. You know, it is not just a protocol, it is not just something out of a notebook, it is truly designed around that person’s unique qualities and what their goals are. There is no generic outcome that we are looking for.”
Ethan: “Thanks, Mike. Looking forward 20 years into the future, how do you see EW evolving and healthcare, for that matter, evolving? What do you anticipate?”
Mike: “I see the physical therapist functioning in an absolute vantage point in healthcare, for a lot of reasons. We (PTs) cover a lot of basic healthcare skills. We have the time, more so than most professions, to spend with the patient and really develop applications, so the client is really helped. It is not just 5 minutes with a client to take them through a couple of activities, but it is about having the time to take that individual through lifestyle applications like diet, sleep, exercise, activity levels, breath, just any number of quality-of-life activities. We can build on those which becomes a comprehensive pathway back to better health. It is not just focusing on an ankle that is sprained or a back that is strained but it is a focus on lifestyle.”
Ethan: “Fantastic. Mike it has been quite an honor to grow a business with your best friend for 20 plus years and I looking forward to continuing to do just that. It is unique what we get to do. Any closing thoughts you would like to share?”
Mike: “Again, I agree, getting to do this work with your best friend for almost 21 years now and being able to share those experiences with the people you care most about is unique. Being able to work closely with the people you love and doing what you love is the greatest blessing. Sometimes you wonder about the timing of things and how did this happen. But then you look back and you think the timing is impeccable. It could not have been any better. Really, in so many ways, it could not have been better. If it had been anywhere else, at any other time, it probably wouldn’t have been like this.”
Ethan: “Thank you Mike! Looking forward to our next 20 plus years!”
The Benefits of Daily Walking by Ivy Spencer
Walking is so much a part of living that we can fail to count its blessings. The physical benefits of daily walking are numerous. Regular walking can help you maintain a healthy weight, decrease your blood sugar, strengthen your heart, increase bone density, strengthen and stretch muscles, improve balance and coordination, boost your immune system, decrease stress, decrease joint pain, improve sleep, and aid in digestion. Walking drives human physiology, and walking well, with a balanced, aligned gait, is a secret of healthy living.
In my practice, I use gait analysis to identify the needs of the body. We strive to make a habit of great walking: a walk that is graceful, straight, strong, gliding along the ground with equal balance between earth and sky.
I have always been a walker. Starting as a teenager, through college and then living in large cities where walking was the only option and small towns where walking was the logical option. Walking regulates my mood and energy levels. If I need energy, I go for a walk. If I need to get rid of energy, I go for a walk.
I walk to clear my mind. I notice my breath, my feet, my arms, and I can look at the world around me. My eyes get a break from screens. My ears get a break from voices.
I love walking alone, but also, I find it the ideal way for me to catch up with a friend, spouse or child. I love walking in the woods far from cars and cares, but I also love urban walking. Noting architecture, different neighborhoods, receiving energy from the bustling people and community around me.
It is easy to default to driving for errands, but I prefer to choose my feet instead. In Homewood, I can go to the post office, the Pig, the coffee shop, the hardware store and Alabama Outdoors all in one walk! And If I need to make a phone call, I can walk and talk safely.
The value of walking hasn’t just been discovered. This is old good news. “Of all exercises walking is best,” wrote Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Mann Randolph, Jr. In 1786. “No one knows, till he tries, how easily a habit of walking is acquired. A person who never walked three miles will in the course of a month become able to walk 15 or 20 without fatigue. I have known some great walkers and had particular accounts of many more, and I never knew or heard of one who was not healthy and long lived. This species of exercise therefore is much to be advised.”
I encourage you to pay attention to how you move and how often you move and you might just notice a link to how your body functions. Here is to moving more and feeling better in 2021!
How To Beat Fatigue: Invest in Yourself by Jesse Douglas
Let’s face it, we all feel it, especially right now. It’s fatigue and stress. Sometimes, it feels like the only energy we’ve got is being used involuntarily to keep your neck and low back in a constant, low-grade spasm. Our breath becomes shallow and fast, we aren’t sleeping, and there is not enough coffee in our cup to keep us revved up.
The coffee doesn’t seem to boost us much during the day and coupled with our evening wine, only causes more restless sleep. We wake up more tired the next day.
We have heard exercise is supposed to be good for decreasing stress. So, we dive right in. We go to our local gym and took their HIIT class. We wake up even more tired and may have the added pleasure of extreme delayed onset muscle soreness. We hurt, we are tired, we give up.
So, what went wrong? After all, exercise is promoted to decrease stress and increase energy levels. Why can success be so difficult. For starters, knowledge is power and understanding how our bodies respond to exercise is the first step toward developing a sustainable practice.
Exercise works as a stress reducer by a few mechanisms. Bouts of exercise release epinephrine and norepinephrine, which are stress hormones that energize you in small doses. Additionally, exercise activates and increases the number of mitochondria in the body. Mitochondria produce most of the ATP in the body, which is the energy currency of the cells. However, it is not that simple. Exercise is an investment in energy, and we must invest wisely. Timing, intensity, duration, current fitness level, and planning are key.
If we are already fatigued, our lowest risk investment is going to be low intensity exercise for a short duration. Try a 5–20-minute bout of exercise at around 40-60% of your max heart rate. Most likely, this range, will yield an instant return in the form of increased energy.
The higher the intensity or the longer the duration of an exercise session, the higher the risk of the investment. There is always a cost to exercise, and that cost is what it takes to recover. A high intensity exercise session may help you blow off some steam and may be a necessary part of a comprehensive fitness regimen. But, if we have not put in the time and planning to be successful, we could be more physically tired after the workout than before. Too many of these in a row, without any focus on recovery, can depress our immune system or set up for injury. In other words, we could be spending more than you are accruing. A study from the University of Georgia depicts how low intensity exercise is more efficient than moderate or high intensity exercise at increasing energy levels.
What’s the best thing to do? Take a hike… literally. Walking outdoors is a great accessible exercise with multiple benefits, including increased energy and exposure to nature. Both have been shown to improve mood and depression. Here is an article from The Active Times that lists many of the major benefits of walking outside. If it’s a rainy day, or too cold to enjoy, there are other options for low intensity, energy building exercise routines that can improve your quality of life including Pilates and Yoga. Low impact, mindful movement practices can clear your head and energize your body.
Wishing you a happy, healthy, active, and energetic New Year!
Breathe Your Way to Better Health! by Ethan White
Breathing, as it turns out, is so much more than just getting air in and out of our bodies.
How we breathe affects our heart rate, blood pressure, digestion, sleep, hydration, stress and anxiety levels, mood, body temperature, sexual function, and has the potential to improve our overall sense of well-being.
As a physical therapist, I have experienced the power of breath first-hand. Over the past 27-plus years of rehabilitating clients recovering from injury to professional athletes working to improve, without fail, how one utilizes breath has a profound impact on successful interventions, outcomes, and performance.
Certainly exercise, nutrition, healthy lifestyle choices, your environment, sleep habits, and social interaction play a pivotal role in recovery, health, and athleticism. Unlocking the power of breath is key to maximizing success!
So, if you really want to move better, feel better, and live better, start with breathing better!
James Nestor’s best-selling book, BREATH: THE NEW SCIENCE OF A LOST ART, is a wonderful place to begin. From the detrimental effects of mouth breathing, to the benefits of nasal breathing, to the importance of expanding our lung capacity, to the power of optimizing our respiration rates, Nestor masterfully incorporates the science behind the art of the power of breath. Additionally, he presents several wonderful techniques, their history, and recommendations for beginning a practice.
I highly recommend investing in the book! In doing so, you will be on your way to breathing, feeling, and living better.