Category Archives: Be Healthy

Cupping Therapy at Bright STAR Physical Therapy

Masha Katz, Cupping Certification
Masha Katz, Cupping Certification

Want to try cupping therapy?  Bright STAR is certified to perform cupping therapy treatments.  Read on to learn about other famous people using cupping and how it can benefit you.

Celebrity cupping enthusiasts are growing in numbers
It was about 10 years ago when cupping first appeared —  For example, Actress Gwyneth Paltrow showed up on the red carpet “unusual” round cupping marks on her back. She received a lot of press and later explained to Oprah, “It feels amazing and it’s very relaxing.”   She is not alone among actors who are devoted the ancient healing technique. Last April, Jennifer Aniston arrived at her latest premiere, “Call Me Crazy” revealing cupping circles.   Others known for using cupping therapy are Jessica Simpson, Lady Gaga and Victoria Beckham. All have also spoken out about using cupping for various physical complaints as well as for relaxation.

Athletes’ secret weapon is cupping
Tennis star Andy Murray said he uses cupping in conjunction with other treatments to relieve stiffness and to help address back injury.   The Wall Street Journal reported on the multitude of Mets players using cupping.   Met’s player, Daisuke Matsuzaka was quoted in WSJ saying, “As an athlete, I want to play as long as possible, in order to do that, I need to find ways to protect my body. I’m always looking for something that might be better.”

63473454 - cupping therapy, spa, woman doctor removes cups from the patient's back
cupping therapy,therapist removes cups from the patient’s back

Famous swimmers, gymnasts & other athletes use cupping therapy to improve their performance.   For athletes who aren’t hurt, the increased blood flow from cupping helps repair muscle fibers after a tough workout.

But cupping is not just for movie stars and athletes … cupping is highly beneficial for everyone.

Cupping provides benefits for many conditions
It can help remove toxins from the body, stimulates the flow of fresh blood & anti-bodies to the affected area and throughout the body. It’s known for helping the flu, coughs, joint pain, lower back and muscle pain, plantar fasciitis, fibromyalgia, poor circulation, red itchy skin conditions and indirectly helps with allergies, fevers, aches and myriad other pains.

In addition to Traditional Chinese Medicine, variations of cupping were also used by Egyptians, North American Indians & Greeks.

At Bright STAR Physical Therapy, our staff can perform Cupping Therapy to help heal injuries, decrease recovery time & relieve pain. We have 2 locations in the San Fernando Valley — Woodland Hills, CA & Valley Village / North Hollywood, CA. Call our office today for a free consultation (818)343-3900. You can also visit our website at

Come get the Cupping Treatment at Bright STAR Physical Therapy

We’re talking about Cupping Therapy – and famous athletes Swear By It. You may have noticed the round, dark circles on the bodies of famous swimmers & gymnasts along with other athletic competitors. It’s created by a form of physical therapy called cupping therapy.

The cupping process draws blood from your vessels and into your tissue. Since your body thinks it’s been injured, it jumpstarts an inflammatory response, mobilizing antibodies to the area to try to heal it.

cupping therapy, therapist removes cups from the patient's back
cupping therapy, therapist removes cups from the patient’s back

Cupping is also recommended to treat a lot of pain-based conditions. Along with boosting athletic recovery, it’s also been used to manage things like joint pain, lower back pain, plantar fasciitis and fibromyalgia.   “Blood flow is the body’s way of naturally healing,” says Houman Danesh, M.D., an assistant professor of anesthesiology and rehabilitation medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital who frequently combines cupping with mainstream pain therapy techniques. “Increased blood flow can be beneficial to jumpstart or restart a blunted healing response.”

For athletes who aren’t hurt, the increased blood flow from cupping helps repair muscle fibers after a tough workout.

At Bright STAR Physical Therapy, our staff can perform Cupping Therapy to help heal injuries, decrease recovery time & relieve pain. We have 2 locations in the San Fernando Valley — Woodland Hills, CA & Valley Village / North Hollywood, CA. Call our office today for a free consultation (818)343-3900. You can also visit our website at

Benefits of Physical Therapy

physical_therapyPhysical therapists are health care professionals offering cost-effective treatment that improves mobility, relieves pain, reduces the need for surgery and drugs and allows patients to participate in a therapy plan designed for their specific needs.

Improve Mobility & Motion

Physical therapists understand anatomy & are experts in improving mobility and range of motion. Painless movement is necessary for quality of daily life, ability to earn a living, pursue your favorite leisure activities, and more.

Reduce Pain

If you have pain, a physical therapy program can be designed to help reduce your pain.  Pain free movement can help us perform more physical activities – and physical activity has so many more great benefits, such as weight management,  physical independence, and studies suggest that walking alone can reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke, hip fracture, and knee arthritis, among other benefits.  Consistent movement is essential to maintain a healthy, balanced lifestyle, which can help prevent costly injuries.

Heal Injuries
Speaking of injuries, your body was designed to heal itself — a physical therapist knows how to guide that process along by creating a custom therapy program that encourages, facilitates & accelerates the natural healing your body was designed to do.

Avoid Surgery

physical_therapy2While surgery is necessary as treatment for some injuries, there is increasing evidence that conservative treatments such as physical therapy can be just as effective (and cheaper) for many conditions.

Low back pain is often over-treated despite abundant evidence that physical therapy is the most cost-effective treatment.  Invasive surgery can be very costly, not to mention the MRIs.  Additionally, surgery can increase immediate & long term pain.

Physical therapy has proven as effective as surgery for meniscal / knee, rotator cuff tears, osteoarthritis and degenerative diseases along with many other conditions.

Avoid Drugs

Drugs can be useful for some conditions & injuries; however, some drugs have negative side effects.  Not only that, they can be expensive.   Your body has the ability to heal itself – physical therapists just guide that process along for a quicker recovery.

Participate In Your Recovery

Physical therapists work collaboratively with their patients. Treatment strategies can be designed for the patient’s specific goals & challenges. Receiving treatment by a physical therapist is an interactive activity – participating in your own recovery can decrease the healing time & reduce pain faster.  Patients develop a relationship with their physical therapist to help you maintain a long term healthy & pain free lifestyle.

We will design a custom exercise program for you that you can do at the gym, office or at home.

At Bright STAR Physical Therapy, our staff is constantly getting more training and more education on new or innovative treatment options in order to heal injuries & relieve pain and discomfort. We have 2 locations in the San Fernando Valley — Woodland Hills, CA & Valley Village / North Hollywood, CA.   Call our office today for a free consultation (818)343-3900. You can also visit our website at

Trigger Point Therapy

Trigger Points
Trigger Points

Many times you will hear a Bright STAR Physical Therapist talk about doing a “trigger point release” or a certain patient having multiple “trigger points”. Which leads us to the question of what exactly is a trigger point?

To understand trigger point we must first understand that every muscle, organ, nerve and blood vessel are covered by a sheet of soft tissue called fascia. The specific sheet covering our muscles are referred to as myofascia.

When myofascia is stressed from overuse or some sort of traumatic movement/injury it can tear and adhere together. When the myofascia adheres it is referred to as a trigger point. Imagine a rubber band being overstretched to the point where it is no longer smooth but bumpy and not taught. Those bumps will naturally adhere to each other; forming a trigger point.

Common causes of trigger points include; but not limited to increased muscle stiffness, moderate to sever tenderness of the muscle, and decreased range of motion. The discomfort or pain from the adhesion of the myofascia can radiate into different parts of the body.

At Bright STAR we use a combination of manual palpation’s, light therapy, and stretching to “release” these adhesions within the muscle. This results in increased blood flow to the affected area; which promotes healing. In addition trigger point therapy  decreases pain symptoms while increasing the rang of motion of the muscle.

Bright STAR Physical Therapy has 2 locations in the San Fernando Valley — Woodland Hills, CA & Valley Village / North Hollywood, CA. Bright STAR Physical Therapists will be able to identify your trigger points. Call our office today for a free consultation (818)343-3900. You can also visit our website at

Back Pain Slowing you down? Get going again quickly with Physical Therapy

got_pain_back_pain_physical_therapy_cartoonBack pain can arise in many different ways — whether your back pain is from weight gain, pregnancy, scoliosis, inactivity, injury, overuse, etc., physical therapy can help you.

The goal of physical therapy is to decrease back pain, increase function, strengthen muscles, and provide education on a maintenance program to prevent further recurrences. We can help relieve your back pain ailments. Success can be achieved through a series of sessions & a custom program we design for you with exercises specifically designed to help reduce pain.

Skeptical? Click here to read about our success story about A.L., a scoliosis patient that traveled from Vancouver BC for scoliosis & back pain treatment.

There are many different forms of physical therapy for back pain. Acutely, the therapist may focus on decreasing pain with passive physical therapy (modalities). These are considered passive physical therapy because they are done to the patient. Examples of modalities include:

  • Heat/ice packs
  • TENS units
  • Iontophoresis
  • Ultrasound

In addition to passive therapies, active physical therapy (exercise) is also necessary to rehabilitate the spine. Generally, a patient’s back exercise program should encompass a combination of the following:

  • Stretching for back pain exercise
  • Strengthening for back pain exercise
  • Low-impact aerobic conditioning

We will design a custom back pain exercise program for you that you can do at the gym, office or at home.

At Bright STAR Physical Therapy, our staff is constantly getting more training and more education on new or innovative treatment options in order to relieve your back pain and discomfort. We have 2 locations in the San Fernando Valley — Woodland Hills, CA, Valley Village / North Hollywood, CA. Bright STAR physical therapists will be able to help you find relief from back pain. Call our office today for a free consultation (818)343-3900. You can also visit our website at

Pilates: Innovation in physical therapy

What is Pilates?

Joseph Pilates had believed that a person’s mental health was intrinsically connected with his physical condition. He incorporated the Greco Roman styles of wrestling, gymnastics and boxing into the form of physical therapy, which we now know as Pilates to counter the effects of rickets and asthma in children. Beginning from learning to control the breath to developing muscular flexibility, the inventor believed that his creation would ultimately inch towards the creation of an acute awareness of the mind and body.

Methods of Pilates Physical Therapy
Pilates Physical Therapy follows a guided approach to increasing the core strength of your body in a sustained manner so that your overall wellness and fitness quotient can be improved by leaps and bounds. The exercises, which are associated with this revolutionary form of physical therapy, can be done either on the specialized equipment such as the Cadillac, the Reformer or even on the Wunda Chair. Though the complex mechanism of springs, pulleys, straps and handles might seem confusing at first as it caters to your individual needs by either demonstrating support or resistance, as you get accustomed to the apparatus, you would find the state of your mind and body benefiting from the thorough therapeutic effect of Pilates Physical Therapy.

Benefits of Pilates Physical Therapy
The beneficial effects of Pilates as a form of physical therapy are multi faceted. It has been found that the slightest of imbalances in flexibility and strength have the power to reduce an average person’s capacity of performing his daily activities. In such instances, the exercises help to improve the spinal stability that strengthens the arms and legs, the body’s coordination, balance and agility while correcting the bad postural habits and practices, which can probably result in further injury. As your mind becomes increasingly aware of the functioning of your body, efficiency in carrying out the daily movements with a stress free mindset is only a step away. Athletes and dancers often depend on Pilates as a complement to their professional training wherein they eliminate their risk of injuries by steadily increasing their flexibility without putting undue pressure on their joints.

Pilates is one of the most versatile modes of exercises under the umbrella of physical therapy. Everyone who uses Pilates can expect to receive benefits from it irrespective of his age and whether they are a novice, a child interested in improving their posture, an adult willing to build their core strength or a trained athlete or celebrated dancer wishing to develop flexibility. If are an aspiring fitness enthusiast who wishes to get out of your safe shell and stretch and challenge your body to its limits, Pilates is an effective form of exercise. However, Pilates as a form of physical therapy can also be beneficial to those who are just recovering from an orthopedic surgery or injury as it heightens the circulatory and respiratory processes of the body, which not only maintains your spinal health and alleviates the symptoms of back pain but also reduces the soreness of the tendons and the muscles.

Pilates Physical Therapy at Bright STAR
If you are in the San Fernando Valley and want to give Pilates a try, you can always get in touch with BrightSTAR Physical Therapy for you and or your child’s one stop solution for recovery and Pilates physical therapy. We have 2 locations to choose from in Woodland HIlls & Valley Village (North Hollywood).  We are conveniently located near the 101 & 170 freeways, respectively, and have patients visit from all over the valley — not just Woodland Hills & Valley Village — including Van Nuys, Studio City, Encino, Woodland Hills, West Hills, Canoga Park & Calabasas. You can contact us at 818-343-3900.

National Kidney Awareness Month

We pay attention to all of the ways you can and should keep your body healthy. In our busy lives it is hard to remember everything all the time, but it’s worth it to take a moment and stop and think about the little things we do to nurture our bodies. Eating the right foods. Wearing sunscreen. Getting enough rest. Drinking water.

And there are things we should avoid, too, of course. Like drinking too much – anytime, but particularly on holidays known for excessive consumption of alcohol. With St. Patrick’s Day coming up, on a weekend day, no less, we urge you to stay safe and make sure you have a designated driver if you are out living it up. We participated in a Twitter chat yesterday in which the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shared statistics and warnings about “buzzed driving.”

@NHTSAgov what is the distinction between buzzed and drunk?

@brightstarpt There is no distinction: IS Drunk Driving.

Don’t rely on the luck of the Irish to get you home safely.

Pilates and Back Pain

Pilates is the best program a person can learn and use to manage their own body and control their aches and stiffness to prevent back pain.

property of Bright Star PT

The Most Common Reason for Back Pain

At Bright Star PT, we see hundreds of people with lower back problems. Many present with a long history of niggling aches and stiffness in the morning. The reason for their back pain in their mind is fatigue and overwork. They are most likely right. The management of this mild inconvenience is neglected, because it has not interfered with their daily lives yet. Over time the stiffness in the morning increases and takes longer to relieve. A person may well take a drug for relief. Again this works for a period of time too.

The pattern of this presentation is very common. The reason for the back pain does not change therefore the pain becomes more often and usually stronger. People have busy lives and many have a reasonably high tolerance, this is a problem in itself.

So What is the Reason for the Back Pain?

In this presentation the reason is a slow loss of movement in the spinal joints and a slow loss of length in the muscles. As pain creeps in the deep core muscles start to weaken as well. This is called pain inhibition of the core. This is where Pilates will benefit back pain.  Back pain in a person with no injury or trauma is due to a slow change in the balance of all the working muscles. The cure is simple, if it is managed early. It is like many diseases – if it is caught early then the cure is usually much easier to achieve.

The Different Types of Back Pain People Suffer

Lower back pain can come from different structures in the lower back.
505361_hot_stone_massage_1Joint pain is usually sharp and stops a person moving through it, usually worse when weight bearing.

Muscle pain feels like a deep ache and usually eases with movement and once you have warmed up.

Inflammatory pain: all of the structures can become inflamed and cause a lot of pain and stiffness in the morning. It can also keep you awake at night.

Disc pain: We treat all musculoskeletal pain as disc pain until proven otherwise. Pain increases with sitting, coughing, sneezing and usually stops a person from standing upright.

Deep lower back pain is usually referred from another organ such as the uterus or
kidney, but can also be local.

All presentations of lower back problems must be assessed properly and a history must also be discussed. In some cases back pain may well be the first sign of something nasty. This is not the norm though.

Pilates and Back Pain

Pilates is the best program a person can learn and live with to manage their own body and control their aches and stiffness. Pilates is the name given to the training of the Transverse Abdominal muscle. It has been marketed to be much more. The action of this muscle is to support the spinal joints and promote the action of the postural muscles. It has many more functions as well but to control the spine is the ultimate function. So by training this muscle individually and then learning how to use it in every way you move, you can stabilize your lumbar spine and stop the micro trauma it suffers with every unstable movement. This will lead to pain relief, eventually. The cure will come by following the principles of core stability, stretching and and not allowing the joints and muscles to become stressed through neglect.

For more information, visit our website, or better yet, come in for a free consultation for a specialized assessment of your unique issues.

[massage photo credit: Ronald Schuster via]

What’s the Deal With Paleo?

We all remember when the Atkins diet, with its high-protein and low-carb focus, was all the rage. Now, it seems that the paleo diet is the new “it” diet. According to The Paleo Diet, the diet consists of mimicking the diet of Paleolithic hunter-gatherers. Basically, if it wasn’t around when cavemen were alive, it’s not included in the diet. Like the Atkins diet, paleo is also high-protein and low-carb, but it is quite a bit more complex than that. Higher fiber intake, higher potassium, lower sodium intake, keeping a balance between alkaline-yielding foods and acid rich foods, higher intake of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants and higher intake of Omega-3 and monounsaturated fats are all essential to the diet. Now, you’re probably thinking to yourself, “Sounds good, but what the heck can I eat and stay paleo?!”

Crossfit enthusiast and paleo dieter, Dave Peet, became interested in the diet after hearing success stories from friends at the crossfit gym and his sister. Here’s an inside scoop on what a typical paleo meal is for Dave: “A typical meal will be a meat, generally ground beef, roasted chicken, or pulled pork- things that are easy to make in bulk with a healthy carb, like sweet potato, broccoli, or cauliflower, some leafy greens like spinach and at least half an avocado with almost every meal.”

Dave started experimenting with the diet in November of 2012. On January 12, 2013 he started the Whole 30 Challenge, a 30 day strict paleo diet, and has maintained strict paleo on average of 80% of the time since the diet ended. The first 2 weeks of strict paleo Dave says he really struggled with energy levels while his body got used to not eating nearly as many carbs and sugars as he once did. Once week 3 came around he noticed a considerable increase in energy levels. He now finds that he can wake up much easier than ever before and has more sustainable energy levels throughout the day. He also noticed his performance at his Crossfit gym increased considerably as well.

Dave leaves anyone considering going paleo with a few wise words. “I would definitely advise educating yourself as much as you can about the paleo diet. Know why you can eat certain foods or why you can’t. Know how certain foods might react with your body so you can know what to expect. I would also recommend starting slow. Start by eating paleo just a few meals a week to find out your portion size and what you might like. Then, slowly start eliminating foods not approved on the paleo diet to see how your body reacts. From there you can try the Whole 30 or maintain the paleo diet that fits your lifestyle.”

The Paleo Diet has a wealth of information about the do’s and don’t of the diet as well as detailed explanations to back up the restrictions. There are also several great paleo Blogs such as Everyday Paleo, Chris Kresser, and Paleo Plan, which is a weekly subscription plan that gives you a meal planning guide and grocery store shopping lists for less than $10 a month or you can sign-up for a free 14-Day trial to see how you like it!

Keeping Kids Safe – Don’t Take Little Things For Granted

After all the hard work you do to help your children get healthy, don’t let your guard down for a second!

Well, that is what it feels like to be a parent sometimes. Everywhere you turn there is something that poses an imminent danger, especially to little ones. This blog post at Children’s MD (or Mom Docs) serves as a reminder of some things you might not always think about as posing risks to little kids. The usual suspects are listed, such as the pull cords for window blinds, and some valuable reminders, too, like “Wear a helmet when bking!” and “Make sure your kid’s car seat is safe!” A chilling warning about latex balloons, and the never-old caveat to not give very small children hard candy are worthy inclusions, indeed.

Parenting is an exhausting, 24-hour-a-day job. But if you don’t do it, who will?