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Fitness, with a Side of Dysfunction?

This time of year, many people are focused on fitness so it’s worth taking a look at what fitness really means. The dictionary defines fit as “sound physically and mentally, healthy.” Using that definition, many “fitness” routines fall short of the goal. If you don’t enjoy running and dread every workout, you’re probably falling short of the “sound mentally” portion. Exercise should be enjoyable, reduce stress, and leave you feeling better, not worse.

Exercise should also leave you feeling better physically. If you can run a good time in a 5k, but have aches and pains for days after, you’re not “sound physically.” If you are increasing your PR in the squat rack, but your joint pain is increasing right along with it, you’re not “sound physically” either. Sure, some muscle soreness and fatigue after a hard workout is normal. But if you’re having pain that doesn’t go away, sore joints, or trouble moving after exercise, you’re probably developing movement dysfunction along with your fitness.

Go back to the dictionary and you’ll find that dysfunction is “impaired or abnormal functioning.” So movement dysfunction is impaired or abnormal movement. When someone has a movement problem like a sore joint, limited range of motion, or strength loss, the brain finds a way to get the body to do what it wants. That usually means moving in a way that is less than optimal. For a while, it works. But eventually it leads to injury. As a concrete example, think of someone who has trouble bending one knee doing squats. When one knee bends further than the other, it will cause one side of the pelvis to drop lower than the other. Now that the pelvis isn’t level, the spine bends towards the high side to stay balanced. When that one side of the pelvis drops lower than the other one, it also usually rotates. Now the spine has to bend to the side and twist to keep you upright. This works for a while, but as weight gets added to the squat, and the repetitions add up so does the risk for a back injury.

Pain during workouts, or pain and soreness that don’t go away after can be warning signs of a movement dysfunction. If you’re experiencing any of these, your physical therapist is a movement expert who can help. PTs are trained to analyze movement, and figure out the root cause of problems. They can then design a program to treat the cause and correct the abnormal pattern. There is no need to wait until you’re injured to see your physical therapist. In fact, it’s preferable not to. Getting minor problems fixed early means fewer visits to the PT, less pain, and not having your workouts put on hold by injury.

Your Physical Therapist Can Help You Keep Your Resolution

As one year comes to a close and another begins, people begin to set goals and make
resolutions. Losing weight, getting to the gym more often or getting into “better shape” are all
common. These all require increasing your amount of physical activity. More activity is great for
your health, energy levels, sleep, and mood. However, ramping up your activity level too quickly
after a holiday season of eating, drinking and being merry can lead to pain, injury and
disappointment if your body isn’t ready for it.

Your physical therapist is an expert in human movement, and can help you safely reach your
fitness goals. People think of PTs as the person to see after an injury, but a visit before you
change your activity level could prevent injury in the first place. An evaluation by your PT will
include assessment of your strength, range of motion, and functional movement patterns – think
jumping, running, squatting, carrying. Some PTs even like to use a standardized assessment,
such as the Functional Movement Screen.

Most common injuries from new fitness routines are caused by underlying weakness, range of
motion deficits, or compensatory movement patterns. Your PT will find these during your
assessment. They can then prescribe exercises or movements to address the issues found and
get you safely moving into the new year!

The other common way people get injured working towards their resolution is with over-training,
or doing too much too soon. Physical therapists are also experts in exercise prescription and
program design. Your PT can help you create a routine specific to your needs and goals that will
progress appropriately and keep you out of trouble.

So stop only thinking of your PT after you’re injured. In this case, it’s true that an ounce of
prevention is worth a pound of cure. Seeing your physical therapist before you start on your
resolution can keep you on track, injury free, and help you reach your goals for the new year!

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Physical Therapists Diagnose Movement “Illnesses”

For people who are sick, going to the doctor and getting a diagnosis is common sense. But who do you see for diagnosis if you’ve got a movement “illness”? If your knee hurts when you go hiking, you can’t get on and off the floor to play with your kids, or you can’t lift things to do your job, who do you see?

Physical therapists are experts in human movement with doctoral level training and should be your first stop for movement issues. After a comprehensive evaluation, a PT will give you a movement diagnosis. Like a medical diagnosis, your movement diagnosis will describe what’s causing your difficulty with movement. Some examples would be difficulty standing from a chair secondary to decreased force production, scapular down rotation syndrome, or lower crossed syndrome. 

Human movement is complex and influenced by many factors, including the pulmonary,nervous, endocrine, cardiovascular, integumentary and musculoskeletal systems. Because of the complexity of the movement system, getting the diagnosis right can be difficult. Physical therapists have extensive training and expertise in human movement and should be your go-to practitioner for movement issues. Getting an accurate diagnosis is important because it sets the road map for treatment. 

Once your movement “illness” is correctly diagnosed, your physical therapist can design the correct treatment plan for your issues. Before you know it, you’ll be back to work or play and moving as well as if not better than before!


About The Private Practice Section of the American Physical Therapy Association Founded in 1956, the Private Practice Section of the American Physical Therapy Association champions the success of physical therapist-owned businesses. Our members are leaders and innovators in the health care system. The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) represents more than 85,000 physical therapists, physical therapist assistants and students of physical therapy nationwide. For more information, please visit www.ppsapta.org.

Check out these 5 tips to decrease your chance of falling!

Did you know, according to the CDC, at least 3 million older adults visit the ER for fall-related injuries every year?1 Factors such as lower body weakness, difficulty walking, poor balance, and foot pain can all increase a person’s risk of falling, but are preventable with proper rehab therapy.

Check out these 5 tips to decrease your chance of falling!

1. Practice Strength and Balance

Strength building programs are key to preventing falls. If a patient’s lower body is weak or in pain, it can negatively affect their balance, leading to a higher risk of falling.

2. Strengthen Spatial Awareness

Many older adults have difficulty performing tasks while remaining mindful of where their body is in relation to other objects or surfaces. This lack of spatial awareness can often result in falls. An effective solution is “dual-task” training, or having your patients practice doing two things at once, like walking while talking, standing on one foot while reaching for an item, or moving while holding an item.2

3. Create an Exercise Routine

Physical activity can improve balance, coordination, and flexibility in your patients. Recommend easy workouts, like walking, swimming, or aerobics to promote exercise without increasing an older adults risk of injury.

4. Adjust Assistive Devices

Assistive devices like canes and walkers are only helpful when they are the correct height for your patient. Make sure that your patients are comfortable with the height of their device and make adjustments if needed.

5. Check for Foot Pain

Foot injuries that heal incorrectly can cause pain and poor balance. If your patient has suffered from a foot injury and is still experiencing pain, they likely have developed restricting scar tissue that is interfering with movement and causing pain. Treat these types of patients with a treatment that is proven to eliminate unwanted scar tissue, like Astym therapy. Astym therapy is proven to remove unwanted scar tissue and regenerate healthy soft tissues, effectively eliminating pain and movement restrictions.

5 Ways Men Can Take Charge of Their Health

Do you know the top health threats for men? The most common causes of death for men in the U.S. are heart disease, stroke, cancer, and chronic lower respiratory disease. Although some of the risk factors for these health issues are hereditary, often times they arise over many years of poor health choices. Fortunately, there are several simple lifestyle choices men can take to reduce their risk for such conditions and take charge of their long-term health.

1. Don’t smoke. Smoking increases the risk for several types of cancer and respiratory disease. Even if you are a smoker, quitting will significantly reduce the negative impacts on your body and reduce your risk for disease.

2. Eat better. Even a few changes in an otherwise poor diet can help the body get the nutrients it needs to fight disease. Drinking more water, and choosing fresh produce, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats as often as possible help reduce the risk for certain cancers, heart disease, and stroke.

3. Get up and move. Breaking a sweat at least a few days a week is important for cardiovascular health, but even something as simple as standing and moving around can have health benefits. For every 20-30 minutes of sitting, stand up and move around for 3-5 minutes. Walk while talking on the phone and take the stairs instead of the elevator. Move as much as possible.

4. Chill out. Chronic stress can significantly contribute to risk factors for heart disease and stroke. Meditation, breathing exercises, and guided imagery are great, but even something as simple as listening to music or reading an inspirational quote can help calm the mind.

5. Get enough sleep. Sleep is vital to our bodies, but it tends to be the first thing people sacrifice in their busy schedules. Not only does adequate sleep help your body heal and rejuvenate, it will also help you be more productive in maintaining other healthy habits.

By incorporating a few simple changes into their daily lives, men can take control of their health and reduce their risks for common men’s health threats. For more information and resources on men’s health, visit www.cdc.gov and www.nih.gov.

National Physical Fitness and Sports Month

In honor of National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, Breakthru is urging you to be active everyday! Regular physical activity increases your chances of living a longer, healthier life! Building fitness into your schedule has immediate benefits, including better sleep, lower blood pressure, less anxiety, as well as long-term benefits such as reduced risk of heart disease and stroke, type 2 diabetes, dementia, and eight types of cancer! Additionally, weight-bearing exercise such as walking and lifting weights will help reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis.

The U.S. Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans were recently revised to include a multifaceted approach to physical activity for older adults:

  • Aim for a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity each week. There is no longer a 10-minute minimum per bout of exercise; any amount of physical activity is now preferable to no physical activity.
  • Do muscle strengthening activities at least 2 days a week. This includes lifting weights, using exercises bands, or body weight exercises.
  • Focus on balance training for better stabilization and avoidance of falls

You’d be surprised by how many daily activities and hobbies count as exercise. Moderate intensity activities include but are not limited to:

  • Brisk walking or jogging
  • Dancing
  • Swimming
  • Sports such as biking, golf, basketball, tennis, and skiing
  • Yard Work such as mowing the grass (push mower), raking leaves, or laying mulch
  • Housework such as vacuuming and mopping


Muscle strengthening activities include but are not limited to:

  • Lifting weights
  • Using exercise bands
  • Body weight exercises such as squats, pushups, and climbing stairs
  • Hiking/biking on steep terrain
  • Canoeing/kayaking
  • Lifting/moving furniture or while performing yard work

As you can see, there are plenty of ways to build fitness and sports into your daily routine! One of the best ways to stay motivated is to do what you love. If you enjoy doing it, you’re more likely to stick to it. No matter what physical shape you are currently in, you can find something that will work for you.

In honor of National Physical Activity and Sports month, challenge yourself to get more physically active in the month of May!

See for yourself how good it can make you feel! If you need a little boost, Breakthru’s fitness coaches can help you get motivated and stay on track. Schedule your free consult today!

5 Simple Habits to Help Improve Nutrition

March is National Nutrition Month, a campaign created to promote healthy eating and exercise habits. With the advent of spring, March is also a time of renewed energy and life, making it fitting that we use this month to reevaluate our eating habits and discover what changes we can make to improve our health.    

There are many ways in which we can optimize our nutrition choices such as choosing whole grains, eating more fresh fruit and vegetables, and substituting healthy fats for unhealthy saturated or trans-fats. But actually putting these into practice can be daunting, especially with busy schedules or simply not knowing what exactly constitutes a whole grain or healthy fat. Utilizing the internet for information or guidance doesn’t help much because of all the conflicting information and diet fads that make you think that you have to give up entire food groups to be healthy.

Fortunately, improving your nutritional health can be done by adopting just a few simple habits. Nutrition coach and exercise physiologist Dr. John Berardi suggests the following for maximizing your nutrition and working towards your health goals:




  1. Eat slowly and stop when you’re 80% full. Eating quickly causes us to eat more than we really need. It takes about 20 minutes for the stomach to tell the brain it’s full. When we eat quickly, we’re likely to eat far too much before our brain tells us we’re full.


2. Eat protein dense foods with each meal. In healthy individuals, a higher-protein diet is safe and promotes optimal health, body composition, and performance. Protein also helps with satiety, or the feeling of fullness, in between meals.


3. Eat vegetables with each meal. Veggies are loaded with vitamins and minerals as well as plant chemicals that reduce disease risk help the body function optimally. Plus, filling up on nutrition-packed vegetables will help prevent overeating less optimal starchy or refined carbohydrates. Build up to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables each day.

4. For fat loss, eat a majority of other carbohydrates after exercise. In other words, you’ve got to earn the higher-carbohydrate meals by exercising first. The trick, here, is focusing on unprocessed, high-fiber carbohydrates over refined or high-sugar carbohydrates. Limit or avoid sweetened drinks and sodas.

5. Eat healthy fats daily. The body needs dietary fat in order to function optimally. On average, about 30% of the diet should come from fat. Focus on adding healthy monounsaturated fats (extra virgin olive oil, some nuts, avocados) and polyunsaturated fats (some nuts, some vegetable oils, and fish oil supplements) to balance out fat intake.


Use the Superfoods Checklist to help you determine what are the best options for protein, carbohydrates, and fats. CLICK HERE.

One more habit I will add is to drink lots of water throughout the day, especially before, during, and after exercise! Invest in a good water bottle and carry it with you everywhere to help remind you to drink often.

Adopting these 5 habits over time can greatly improve your nutritional health, reach your weight-loss goals, and help you feel better too!  

Breakthru fitness coaches can help answer any questions you have about general nutrition and putting these habits into practice! Breakthru YOUR goals, schedule your FREE Fitness Screen with one of our Fitness Coaches today!  

Source: Berardi, John. (2013) The Essentials of Sport and Exercise Nutrition. Toronto, Canada: Precision Nutrition, Inc.

2019 Be Fearless Scholarship

In Honor Of Our Friend, Jason Kilderry

Jason lived life fearlessly and to the fullest every single day. 


Breakthru has worked closely with Jason for  over 10 years. He was our go to coach for all of our runners and participated with us for several events and seminars. His passion for evidence based practice matched well with our desire to  treat based on the most up to date research. Jason was a good friend of Breakthru and his loss was devastating.  We appreciate his dedication and the high standards he demonstrated within his coaching.  Breakthru is hoping to continue to impact future clinicians to ensure Jason’s legacy lives on. We have developed this scholarship for upcoming high school graduates in remembrance of our dear friend, Jason. 


Application Requirements:

** High School Senior athlete from Burlington or Camden County 

** 300 word essay on how your Coach inspired you throughout your athletic career OR a 30 second video

** A $250 Scholarship will be awarded to one male and one female applicant that meets the criteria stated above

** The Coach’s TEAM that inspired YOU will receive FREE Functional Movement Screens to help his or her athletes stay in the game!

Submit to Melanie: mmclaughlin@breakthrupt.com 

Application Deadline: 4/30/2019