Physical Therapy – Age Gracefully – with Erin Blackford :067

I used to think that Physical Therapy is something that people do after an accident or injury.

Although I am very much a preventative maintenance person, I didn’t consider it as a part of my wellness care until I learned about Motion Care. Manual adjustments from Erin have helped me to feel more in alignment for what’s proper for my own body – allowing muscles to relax and for my body to move more freely in my delay activities as well as in dance, martial arts and yoga.


In this casual conversation we talk about a number of wellness-care topics in relation to physical therapy and what you can do to feel better – to prevent the proverbial wheels from falling off!

  • What it’s like to come from a family of physical therapists
  • What’s the difference between manual physical therapy and chiropractic?
  • Why it’s important to treat the body BEFORE experiencing pain
  • What are the signs of degradation to look for to seek treatment before seemingly falling apart
  • Why working on the 3-planes of motions is important (longitudinal, rotational, diagonal)
  • Sleeping through the night due to physical therapy
  • Why it’s so important to find the exercise that is right for you or the patient!
  • What Erin wishes everyone would do for their bodies
  • What increases chances for falls
  • The adjustment that relieved upper back tension that helped better than yoga!
  • Why “back extensions” are as important as “tummy time” for babies
  • The importance of preventative care for the lay person (non-athlete)
  • How to use our healthcare system more efficiently – saving hassle and money
  • The value of self-awareness and self-care
  • How physical therapy can help Osteo and Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Suggestions for Back pain
  • “Keep moving – keep your body going.” – Erin Blackford – Physical Therapist



About Erin

Erin Blackford - Physical Therapist - Motion Care - Weight Free WellnessErin Blackford is a licensed physical therapist, certified by the Minnesota Board of Physical Therapy with a strong interest in manual therapy. She is a graduate of The College of St. Scholastica with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Health Sciences and a minor in Psychology. Erin then pursued her Masters in Physical Therapy at The College of St. Scholastica.

Learn more at

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Embarrassed to Exercise :035

I remember what it feels like to be embarrassed to exercise

It first started when I was in elementary school. I lacked coordinated, stamina, understanding of most games and even strategies. I didn’t want to take part in any physical activities, so it didn’t bother me to be chosen last to be on the team; this was a given.


I just wanted to be left alone

On top of my lack of physical skills, being active hurt. The clothing rubbing against my troubled skin plagued me when doing normal activities; any extra activity caused pain from repeated friction. I just wanted to be still.

If that wasn’t bad enough, physical exertion made my stomach sick, my face turn red, I felt light-headed, like I would vomit. If there was any moderate running, my lungs burned and sides ached.

Extremes in weather made it worse. I loved the sun but it dried my skin just from the heat. My face got redder and hotter more quickly. My feet felt like anchors that I had to drag along.

Cold weather was equally painful. My already chilled and sensitive body recoiled in the the cold. My skin felt even more parched in the cool, dry air. The open cracks in my skin, open wounds exposed to the piercing air or caught on layers of clothing.

Oh yeah, and on top of it all, I was overweight. Forty percent heavier than my average classmate.

“Just let me sit out.” I thought, at every recess and every P.E. class.

Just let me be.


My biggest hurdle… embarrassment

So acutely aware of my abnormalities, what I couldn’t do, I was ashamed to even try. That would have made it worse, to try, fail and be teased even more.

There was a point, though, that I realized that by not overcoming this hurdle, I was keeping myself from what was beyond just that one, seemingly monumental hurdle!

If I had allowed myself, I would have gone my whole life not discovering how capable and healthy I have become because I was worried about what others would think of me!

I knew for years that my body needed to dance- to learn to move in a coordinated fashion and with expression.

I was embarrassed as a child because I thought dance was too feminine: I felt I gained favor from those I loved by being a Tom-boy.

I was embarrassed as an adult because I thought I looked silly stumbling around; that’s how I perceived myself.


Get over the hurdle

I became sick and tired of being sick and tired. My ailments and thoughts and feelings about my body and my life continually pushed me into a corner. I felt less and less capable, worthy, and even desirous of anything fun and worth while.

Something in my young self knew this was no way to live. I decided to change. I decided to make my biggest hurdle my greatest victory.

Quick synopsis, almost thirty years later I am stronger and healthier than ever. I feel fit, capable, coordinated and now I am chosen to be on teams! It feels really good to overcome such a multi-faceted challenge!


One embarrassing thing after another

Life is funny. It seems to give us lesson upon lesson until we really get it.

Recently I found that I am once again embarrassed about exercise. Like any good life-lesson, the circumstances are much different. Now, much more self-confident, capable and healthy, I am not embarrassed of my body, but I noticed being embarrassed about what or even how I train; in martial arts.

It started as a curiosity for me many years ago. I met my husband through this activity and we’ve trained off and on throughout the years.

It has been a form of exercise and self-study for me for 16 years. It’s true, there is so much to learn just by metaphors in training martial arts; as we have seen in many movies.  I have learned about boundaries, when and how to meet force, when to go around, flow, movement within movement, patience, muscle memory, overcoming frustration, learning with new training partners and so much more. For me, this training is so much more about how to work with and through a situation, rather than to cause harm. But, because I was training with people of similar interest, I didn’t notice so much the seeming contradiction brewing within me.

What would my yoga friends think!?

I train regularly with training daggers and learn to disarm and return attacks. This is does not fit my equally deep training in yoga. This does not abide by one of the tenets: nonviolence.

I don’t train martial arts to learn to be a violent person. Actually, in metaphoric ways, I have become much better at dealing with non-physical violence and even challenging life situations because of my martial arts training.

Most of all, I’ve had to remember that each of us has our own unique path. I must continue to tune inward and find my own way- without worry of what others think.


I don’t let this stop me from training.

While it still surprises me to see myself in a video, training with practice daggers, I know myself best. I know that I am not training to harm, but to learn the dynamics of life, to train and understand my body, to become proficient in an area of life (physical) that is most challenging to me.

Most of all, I can see the metaphors in life; how to defend and react not to the physical dagger, but the sharp tongue or piercing eyes of another person.

I encourage you to face your seeming contradictions and challenges as well. Don’t let the thoughts (or assumed thoughts) of other people stop you from moving your body the way you need to be healthy in body, mind and spirit!

I keep on training because of the many things I gain: quality time with my hubby, increased awareness, improved coordination and reflexes, strength and greater self-confidence.

If I worried about what others thought, I’d be letting my assumed thoughts of what they might think of me prevent me from becoming who I want to be; more educated, capable and to have greater perspective.

Now I: train martial arts, dance, do yoga, mountain bike and am excited to do more! I’m so thrilled to live in my capable body! No longer will I let others’ presumed thoughts dictate what I do or do not do!

Whatever your reason for embarrassment

Don’t let it stop you!

If you were to join any activity for the fun of it

…and as a result you gained in fitness, coordination or self-awareness–what would you do?

What would you do if no one were looking?

What if money were no object?

What are you curious about?

What do you admire that others can do?

Where can you start? How can you fulfill this for yourself?

Don’t worry about what others might think. You’re living your life!

It’s YOUR Exercise for YOUR Body!

Turn your embarrassment into accomplishment!


“If one loves, one need not have an ideology of love.”  – Bruce Lee

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Exercise: What’s right for Your Body? :034

You know how your body needs and wants to move…

To exercise, it’s intuitive, but it may need some excavating to come out again.

Which activities did you love as a child?

Running, climbing, playing ball, dancing?

This is a first big clue. Write these down!

What did you love about these activities: being outside, being with others, the feeling of freedom, learning, the feeling of continuous challenge and the possibility of winning or losing?

This seems overly simply, but it’s such a healthy mental and emotional exercise to do.

The greatest step we can take in our health is to observe and allow!

Observe how your body truly wants and needs help and support. If that’s difficult to tune into now, recall a time when you felt really in-tune with your body. What were you doing (and not doing) to support yourself? What were your goals and desires? Most of all, what was your attitude?


 Know your Body-type

Some people and bodies need more vigorous exercise others more slow and mellow.

I’ve learned over time that I need mostly gentle exercise: dance, walking, yoga – with some strength and coordination exercise mixed in.

In my book, You-niversal Self-care, I teach about the Body-types and the foods, exercises and habits that help to balance each type. Here’s a summary of the types of exercises that help each Body-type.


Types of Exercise that help each Body-type


This type needs vigorous exercise, but exercising is not typically enjoyable to them. They need a trainer, a group, a class that they enjoy and can kick them into gear! Earth-types like things to be regular. A scheduled class and a consistent trainer are helpful. Earth-types like being around friends, but it’s best not to count on other Earth-type friends to stay accountable. Make sure to find a Fire-type trainer/group leader to keep you going! Beautiful esthetics help. Earth-types also like comfortable and homey atmosphere.  This is not the typical gym, which is why an Earth-type will feel more comfortable in a yoga class (without mirrors). They will benefit from a more vigorous Ashtanga or “Power yoga”. When an Earth-type finds the right activity they actually enjoy it!


Fire-types need lots of activity, something to let off steam, something challenging. They also like competition. Join a sports league which is also motivation to do some supplemental and cross training. You’ll find many Fire-types in competitive environments like Crossfit. A Fire-type naturally wants to move and compete, but when they are overcome by the challenge of “making it” in the business realm they will readily put this healthy practice aside. You will feel and perform much better though, in all areas of life, when you exercise regularly!


Air and Water-types

These types need regularity. Depending on their second most dominant Body-type they may be able to withstand vigorous workouts, or not. If Air is your primary Body-type, like me, less intense workouts like certain styles of martial arts, yoga, tai chi, walking and dance are very helpful. It’s important for these types to do something that does not exhaust their more delicate constitution. For this type it’s not about the calories burned or the miles walked; consistent, daily activity helps theses types the most.

So, what’s your Body-type? Take the Body-type Quiz in the right sidebar!


Getting Clear

Now you know…

Use these tools to narrow down what it is that you can to do for your body!

Try out some activities or classes. Try as many as you like! Rotate. Once you start looking you’ll be amazed by what you can find, even online!

Most of all, have fun!