Exciting News at Star Physical Therapy

Are you experiencing any of the following:

  • Bladder leakage when you cough, sneeze, laugh, walk or run?
  • Frequent urination so you can’t leave the house or join friends for lunch?
  • Are you getting up 2 more more times at night to urinate?
  • Can’t make it to the bathroom in time?
  • Have to urinate when you hear running water or do dishes?
  • Experience a heavy feeling in your pelvis or like something is falling out?
  • Not sure what a “Kegel” is or how to do this correctly?

STAR Physical Therapy would like to introduce you to our newest team member – Stephanie Hahn, P.T. – a licensed physical therapist and certified Pilates instructor with over 27 years of experience.

Her extensive work with both physical therapy and Pilates’ clients recovering from soft tissue, joint and skeletal injuries has allowed her the opportunity to hone her skills treating movement dysfunctions and guiding her clients back to healthy lifestyles.   Additionally, she has a focus helping patients overcome pelvic issues such as urinary incontinence, pelvic floor weakness, and pelvic pain.

Ms. Hahn co-authored A Woman’s Guide to Pelvic Health: Expert Advice for Women of All Ages to educate women about how they can help themselves restore pelvic health with a pelvic exercise program that has proven effective for hundreds of women. Her areas of special interest include helping clients improve their movement and function by strengthening the abdominal, spinal, and pelvic floor muscles, which leads to postural restoration and self-confidence.

She earned her Bachelor of Sciences Degree in Physical Therapy from the University of Texas Health Science Center in Dallas in 1987, and her certification as a Pilates instructor from the PhysicalMind Institute in 2001. Ms. Hahn founded Austin, Texas’ first women’s physical therapy health practice in 1996, focusing on the treatment of pelvic floor disorders.

Stephanie is treating P.T. patients and working with Pilates clients at Star Physical Therapy and is accepting most insurance including Medicare.     CALL STAR P.T. for more information – 512-288-2700

**You can learn more by visiting www.awomansguidetopelvichealth.com

Squatting Do’s and Dont’s

Squatting Do’s and Dont’s

                                                                                      Posted on May 31, 2013 by Kasey Aiken

We get asked quite frequently “Is it bad to do squats for a work out?” “How can I protect my spine during work outs?” “It hurts my low back when I’m squatting, do I need to quit?” After observing the squat position of many of our patients, I would prefer to say they should not be squatting until we fix x, y, and z. At STAR, we follow the practices of an institute named Postural Restoration Institute or PRI. PRI has many helpful guidelines, tests, and measures for us as practitioners to follow and help determine whether we feel it’s safe for a patient to return to a work out program involving squatting.


      The consistent problem we see in a squat with our patients is a moderate anterior pelvic tilt with increased use of the lower back paraspinal muscles, and knees falling forward over the toes. This is usually observed in a patient squatting without weight. Seeing this with no weight, we can only guess how poor the form may be with 50 pounds+ of weight on the shoulders. The patient is essentially performing a squat without activating their gluteal muscles and “core” muscles instead using all back and quad muscles. Performing a squat with using primarily the back and quad muscles can cause a number of orthopedic problems such as: herniated discs, increased break down of knee cartilage, lower back muscle strain, and hip impingement problems to name a few. The scarier part is that half of these patients are in an athletic program at school or in a work out program with supervision over their exercises.


      Without having a full postural restoration evaluation, exact instructions may vary within individuals. The following listed below are just guidelines and a small checklist. It would be ideal to squat while looking in a mirror to be able to look at form from the side and head on or have someone else watch your positioning.

  • Before beginning a squat, proper shoe wear is a must. You should be able to make contact with your R inner arch without having to move the foot excessively.

  • Feet should be about shoulder width apart and weight should be on your heels throughout the squat.
  • The position of the pelvis and the ribcage are two of the more important structures before beginning a squat.

  • A slight posterior pelvic tilt is desirable along with the ribcage slightly depressed in order to obtain a ZOA (PRI’s term: zone of apposition; meaning outer abdominal control through the internal obliques/transverse abdominis). This should be maintained throughout the squat and can be further explained in detail with a PRI assessment.

  • The chest should not be facing the ground. It should be positioned forward and open with the shoulder blades pulled down and back activating lower traps. The lower back should never be arched.

  • As you begin to squat, you should feel activation of the gluteal, quad, and hamstring muscles as well as the abdominals stabilizing the pelvis.

  • Never hold your breath during a squat; there are further breathing recommendations for each individual depending on strength as well as goals with squatting such as power or endurance. These assessments would be made following a postural restoration evaluation.

Physical Therapy & Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that affects more than 27 million Americans and is the primary cause of long-term disability (Lawrence, et al and Walker, Helena). The risk of developing lower-body osteoarthritis (OA) – for example, in the hip and/or knee joints – is 4 times higher for persons that are obese in comparison to those that maintain a more optimal body weight. Both osteoarthritis and obesity are recognized as global public health problems. Other factors related to the loss of function and or independence in persons with osteoarthritis include physical inactivity and muscular weakness. Fortunately, each of these issues is a modifiable risk factor, and Physical Therapy can provide assistance in dealing with all of them.

 In the June 2011 publication of the Physical Therapy journal, a review of published literature was performed on the management of osteoarthritis in adults who are obese or overweight. The review looked at treatment strategies consisting of physical activity, diet and a combination of both. The review concluded that a program including both physical activity and diet modifications produced the most beneficial results (as compared with physical activity alone, diet alone, and no diet or physical activity programs). The review suggested that when combining physical activity with a restricted diet program there are reductions in pain and improvements in functional status for patients with osteoarthritis who are obese or overweight. Regular physical activity is also important in order to maintain muscle strength, joint function and bone health in the entire body – not just in the lower extremities.

An orthopedic Physical Therapist can prescribe optimal, individualized programs of exercise and activity that address strength, balance, endurance limitations, and mechanical problems with walking or other movement. It is possible to experience positive effects from Physical Therapy in a fairly short time – even in cases when osteoarthritis is already existent. Any initial improvements in pain level and joint mechanics can then be compounded as a person’s strength, balance, and endurance are improved – a process that is measurable by 4-8 weeks of supervised activity. In combination with a sensible eating plan, Physical Therapy can have an even more powerful effect on pain and disability.

Please contact S.T.A.R. Physical Therapy or your personal Physical Therapist if you have questions about whether or not you might personally benefit from formal care for Osteoarthritis. We would be happy to be of assistance.

Postural Restoration Boiled Down

We get asked a lot to explain what Postural Restoration is in simple terms. Indeed, the concepts are not simple – and in most healthcare providers’ opinions, the ideas are a bit peculiar.

The basis of Postural Restoration lies in an understanding of our anatomy and an appreciation that our bodies are not symmetrical and never will be. The fact that we have one of some organs (ie: heart and liver), as well as organs that are shaped differently on one side of our body compared to the other (ie: lungs and diaphragm), results in mild asymmetrical positioning of our bones and muscles.  Consequently, movement of our limbs, trunk, and spine tends to be easier or harder on one side in comparison to the other.  A good look in the mirror will reveal mild to drastic differences in the appearance of our rib cage, shoulder height, foot position, and even ears or eyes, when comparing right versus left.

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Treatment of Scoliosis

Scoliosis is a diagnosis that makes people think of many undesireable thingsscoliosis – back pain, bracing, surgery, disfiguration. What people may not realize is that often a diagnosis of scoliosis leads to a course of orthopedic physical therapy. S.T.A.R. PT has been practicing a somewhat unique approach to conservatively treating scoliosis. We understand that we will not be able to completely correct the spinal curvature in idiopathic scoliosis, but we believe that much can be gained from a program to manage the curvature by reducing musculoskeletal torsion and improving the mechanics of the thorax.

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The Importance of Squatting

Many patients at S.T.A.R. PT will find themselves squatting – for evaluative purposes or as a part of their treatment program. Squatting is one of the most typical ‘functional movement patterns’ that persons of all ages and physical ability levels are required to do during a multitude of daily tasks. Therefore, it is important to be able to successfully complete this activity.

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