I have taken numerous classes to round out my skills as a physical therapist, because focusing exclusively on the muscles and joints no longer attains satisfactory results. After all, the human body consists of more than muscles and joints.

For optimum health, one has to take a more global view. Organs affect our ability to move. Just ask anyone who has had surgery for an organ. Optimal functioning of those organs is definitely vital to good health. As a physical therapist, one of my primary concerns is the body’s ability to move freely.

In his article for Applied Nutritional Science Reports, Dr. Frederick T. Sutter, MD, outlines specific natural therapies for rheumatoid arthritis and other chronic inflammatory conditions. His suggestions include using antioxidants to address the issue of excessive free radical production associated with inflammation.

Free radicals cause damage to cells and are not good to have circulating in your system. Taking omega-3 fatty acids found primarily in fresh cold water fish, leafy green vegetables and flaxseed oil will promote the production of anti-inflammatory mediators and taking herbs, probiotics and prebiotics will promote a healthy gut environment and keep undesirable bacteria in check.

Specific manual therapy techniques have been developed to help promote optimal movement between bones, muscles, organs and other connective tissue that may have been limited due to injury, inflammation, scarring and inactivity. My personal preferences include gentle techniques for the patient and the practitioner, leading to improvement in both movement and function.

Identifying habitual movements and postures can also lead to elimination of those harmful activities perpetuating a problem. Often, I have found that patients create many of their own problems. In most cases, they were simply unaware of what they were doing, and once given the tools to correct and change those habits, the patients improved dramatically.

Products regularly used in the home, both for personal hygiene and household cleaning, can be a source of toxicity to your system. You need to know about the various toxic chemicals contained in common products such as soaps, shampoos and household cleaners. Many companies produce products free of toxic substances. Becoming aware of which ingredients to avoid can help you to stay healthier by not allowing those toxins into your body in the first place. It takes a multi-faceted approach to tackle a serious problem.

Keep yourself informed and try to adhere to the motto “First Do No Harm.”

Sheila Yonemoto, P.T., has been a physical therapist for more than 30 years, specializing in integrative manual therapy, utilizing a holistic approach. She can be reached at Yonemoto Physical Therapy, 55 S. Raymond Ave., Suite 100, Alhambra, CA 91801. She also offers a qigong “Chinese energy” exercise class. Your first class is free. Call (626) 576-0591 for more information or visit www.yonemoto.com.

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