News - Kinetic Edge Physical Therapy
Wednesday October 28, 2015


Troy Vander Molen

Troy Vander Molenby Troy Vander Molen, CEO and Physical Therapist at Kinetic Edge

The year continues to move along, and November, one of my favorite months, is already upon us. It seems that many in our society rush from Halloween to Christmas, ignoring what I consider to be one of the best and most meaningful holiday seasons.

I am particularly fond of Thanksgiving because it is much more difficult to materialize. Sure, maybe you’ll sometimes hear it referred to as “Turkey Day,” and, make no mistake, I love turkey. But that’s not the reason I love Thanksgiving. I love it because it is a season that is most characterized by an attitude and a posture more so than an action or an event.

My teammates at Kinetic Edge know that I usually refer to Thanksgiving in a slightly different way, because it draws attention to the attitude and posture of this season. So, on behalf of Kinetic Edge, I want to wish you a Happy Gratitude Month!

Last year at this time, I received an email that focused on gratitude during the Thanksgiving season from Larry Benz, a strong leader and ambassador for physical therapists in private practice and a friend of our practice. In this email, he gave a summary of gratitude from an academic perspective. Did you know that it is scientifically proven that the trait of gratitude is one of the top three strengths that predicts well-being?

Human beings have a natural tendency to focus on the negative, but a simple blessings exercise has been shown to contribute to positive changes in depressed people. In the rehab world, various levels of depression are extremely common. Therefore, as rehab professionals, we consider it one of our major roles to facilitate a better understanding of the possibilities for health, happiness, and hope. What impact do you think a medical practitioner that models gratefulness can have on the health benefits of his patients?

Check out part of Larry Benz’s message on the medical benefits that accompany gratitude:

Physical therapy is a serving profession, and several researchers have conceptualized gratitude as an emotion that is always directed towards appreciating the helpful actions of other people (McCullough, Kilpatrick, Emmons & Larson, 2001). Grateful people experience more positive emotions, have greater life satisfaction, and are more hopeful about the future compared to ungrateful people (Emmons & McCullough, 2003).  Furthermore, highly grateful people are more empathetic, forgiving, and supportive, and less likely to be depressed, anxious, and jealous (McCullough, Tsang, & Emmons, 2004). When medical practitioners are grateful, it reaps substantial benefits for their patients that can likely influence clinical outcomes in a positive way.

Throughout history, many cultures have regarded the experience and expression of gratitude as beneficial for individuals and society, as evidenced by its inclusion as a character strength that has been valued across religions and philosophies for centuries (Peterson & Seligman, 2004).  In addition, trait gratitude is one of the top three strengths that predicts subjective well-being (Park, Peterson, & Seligman, 2004).  The research on gratitude suggests it is a key element for sparking positive change and is an important component of the good life (Bono, Emmons & McCullough, 2004). Not only is gratitude strongly associated with happiness, but experimental manipulations of gratitude have been shown to enhance well-being (Watkins, Van Gelder, & Frias, 2009) as well as creativity and problem solving–two keys to better clinical decision making (Estrada, Isen, & Young, 1994).

There have been many studies exploring the link between gratitude and well-being. For example, participants in one study were asked to write down five things for which they are grateful for once a week for ten weeks. A group was asked to list five daily hassles (Emmons & McCullough, 2003). The results were impressive: relative to the control group, the participants who expressed gratitude felt more optimistic and more satisfied with their lives. Even their health received a boost:  they reported fewer physical symptoms (such as headache, acne, coughing or nausea) and more time spent exercising.  A study of internet-based interventions showed that participants who were randomized to a group that focused on a “three good things in life exercise” (they were asked to write down three things that went well and their causes every night for a week) increased happiness and decreased depressive symptoms for six months (Seligman, Steen, Park & Peterson, 2005).

Seligman, Rashid and Parks (2006) showed the benefits of the blessings exercise in depressed patients. Human beings are naturally biased toward focusing on and remembering the negative, which is further exacerbated in depression. The aim of the blessings exercise is to re-focus the patients’ attention, memory, and expectations away from the negative and toward the positive. They theorize that the blessings exercise is effective because it counteracts a tendency toward hyperfocusing on negative events, which contributes to depression. Lyubomirsky (2007) describes the numerous ways gratitude boosts happiness: it promotes the savoring of life experiences, it bolsters self-worth, it helps people cope with stress and trauma, it encourages moral behavior, and it can help build social bonds.

At Kinetic Edge, we care about your health, happiness, and hope. Research shows that the action of being grateful will help with all three of these. Over the course of gratitude month, I’d like to challenge you to make your own Top 5 list, recite “three good things in life”, or participate in a blessings exercise – as you enjoy time with your families and friends during this season of gratitude.

Here are three good things in my life that I’m grateful for right now:

1. My wife of 22 years, Stephanie, and my three great children – Kade (15), Ty (11) and Claire (10).

troy's thankful 1 - Copy   troy's thankful 1a

2. Great teammates at Kinetic Edge who exude health, happiness, and hope.

Cover PHoto

3. An undefeated Hawkeye football team and unprecedented success for the Royals after three decades of futility.

troy's thankful 3

troy's thankful 3

Wednesday October 28, 2015



Chandler_2012May13_1968At our clinics, we see many people who have an ankle sprain. It is a very common event that impacts both young and the old. And though it can cause substantial short-term pain, swelling, and functional difficulties, most people consider ankle injuries to be fairly inconsequential for the long-term. But, in the words of College Football Gameday’s Lee Corso, “Not so fast my friend!”

Recent research indicates that even a single ankle sprain could impact how a person moves for the rest of her life! Healthy ankles are essential for efficient movement, and movement inefficiencies tend to have cumulative consequences.

Dr. Tricia Hubbard-Turner, a professor of kinesiology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, has authored three studies on this subject. One study recruited 40 young college students, half with chronic ankle instability and half with healthy ankles. After wearing a pedometer for one week, she found that those with ankle problems moved substantially less – 2,000 fewer steps on average each day!

In another study, Dr. Hubbard-Turner and her colleagues performed a procedure that caused mild ankle sprains in rodents. After allowing time for the injury to heal, the researchers tracked the mice’s activity habits and compared them to healthy mice. The previously-injured mice had worse balance (more slips off a balance beam) and ran significantly less mileage on their wheels – even one year after the injury! Yes, even a single ankle sprain can lead to far more inactivity throughout an individual’s life span.

With this knowledge, Dr. Hubbard-Turner gave the following recommendation to The New York Times: “Don’t ignore an ankle sprain,” she said. Consult a physical therapist about treatment and rehabilitation, and have a PT perform balance testing to better understand the significance of your movement inefficiency. And, most importantly, learn from them some simple exercises that can help you move more efficiently.

The New York Times has a short online video that runs through some simple balance exercises (, but we also encourage you to contact Kinetic Edge today to schedule time with our movement experts so that you can transform your life and experience real gains in health, happiness, and hope!

Tuesday September 29, 2015


Proverbs 13.12

by Troy Vander Molen, CEO and Physical Therapist for Kinetic Edge Physical Therapy

Dave RamseyEsteemed financial guru Dave Ramsey uses the vehicle of financial advice to help many people change their lives. As economies crumble and governments reel, nations and their citizens struggle, and in many ways this is because they have lost hope. Ramsey’s vehicle is financial advice, but his primary product is HOPE.

You may be wondering what this has to do with physical therapy. Over the past six months, our organizational culture has evolved to focus on health, happiness, and hope. While each of these are unique and important, in many ways the greatest of these is hope.

If you’ve ever listened to Dave Ramsey’s call-in show, you can hear the heart of the caller change as he realizes that he has control over this financial cloud that has been hovering over him. He simply needs a plan to execute, and that’s what Dave provides. The ultimate product he delivers, though, is hope.

Without hope, change is nearly impossible to realize.

Years ago (1992, to be exact, and shortly after the end of the Cold War), I had an awesome experience in Ukraine. I went there with about 250 other college students and leaders to take part in a sports ministry. While there, we connected with local Ukranians by playing sports – American football, basketball, volleyball, soccer, and, of course, the best sport, baseball.

The baseball fields were just a converted soccer field or an open park. The baselines were typically poured sand, and the infield hops weren’t exactly true. As a right-handed player with the ability to hit the other way, I enjoyed my time there as a batter. The rectangular shape of the soccer complex meant that there was a short right field porch.

The locals were impressed by our display of power and grace on the diamond. We weren’t awesome, mind you, but in their minds we were. Baseball was a game they loved but had little experience playing. In many ways, our abilities relative to theirs made us seem like professionals. Of course, by playing baseball, we were able to develop deeper relationships. We earned their trust by having fun with them. We taught them about a game that they knew just a little about. It was an easy way to earn their trust, but that wasn’t our end game. Our goal was to share with them HOPE in the form of the gospel and the life that can be experienced through a vibrant relationship with Christ.

In the evenings, we typically held public events that featured music and theatrics. Though many had a rudimentary understanding of English, the stories of Christ put to music and mime told a story that transcended language. It was eye-opening to see the reserved, almost depressed, appearances of the Ukranians turn to expressions of hope and joy. You could see their hearts change as you watched their faces. It was life-changing for me to be an agent of change, a deliverer of HOPE to the Ukranian people.

Proverbs 13.12As people engaged in one of the truest forms of health care, we at Kinetic Edge use a different vehicle to change peoples’ lives. We have access to bodies like yours for a finite period of time, but during the time we have to work with you, we also have the opportunity to speak to your heart, soul, and spirit. To do this, we first speak words of HOPE, because without hope, change is nearly impossible to realize.

Much like the Ukranians I spent time with over two decades ago, the people we serve often arrive with a reserved, almost depressed, facade. The pain and impairments they’ve had to endure have taken a toll. They lose sight of the potential for improvement and have often succumbed to the notion that they can’t change their future. They’ve lost hope. They need hope. And when they receive it, their faces change, their body language and posture improves, and, like Dave Ramsey’s callers, we hear a change in the way they speak. Hope is life changing!

Can we help restore hope in your life?

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” (Proverbs 13:12)


Monday September 28, 2015


Figure 1 Tension Headaches

What are they? 

Figure 1 Tension Headaches
Figure 1: Tension Headaches

Any pain that you experience in any part of the head is called a headache. However, there are many different types of headaches including migraine, cluster, and headaches originating from nerve irritation.

Tension headaches (also known as muscle-spasm headaches) are the most common type of headache, and they are often the result of a neck or jaw problem, poor posture, fatigue or stress. Any problem that results in tension in the muscles at the back of the head can place pressure on the nerves to the face and head, which triggers the headache (Figure 1).

Common symptoms

A tension headache usually begins at the back of the head and spreads to the top of the head. You may feel either pain and/or a pressure sensation. Some people feel pain and muscle tightness along the cheeks near the jaw bone. And these symptoms often worsen with specific postures – like sitting at a desk, using a handheld device, or playing video games – and ease with rest. If you have no posterior head discomfort and the pain is only on the sides of the head or behind your eyes, it is not likely to be a tension headache.

Take the tennis ball test

If you have been dealing with headaches that originate from the base of your neck, you may be experiencing tension headaches. And if these headaches vary in intensity based upon your various postures and positions, the likelihood is greater. To verify if your headache symptoms may be tension-related, take the tennis ball test.

Simply use athletic or duct tape to secure one tennis ball next to ball test 2

Then lay on your back on a fairly solid surface and place the tennis balls at the base of your head where it meets your ball test

Perform a mild chin tuck, which should roll the tight muscles over the tennis balls.Tennis bal test

If this area is tight and sore, and if this mild self-massage relieves pressure and reduces the head pain, there is a good chance that you deal with tension headaches.

When should I call a physical therapist?

Because there are many causes for muscle tension headaches, it is important to see a physical therapist. Your PT will be able to ask appropriate questions and perform additional tests to determine the most likely cause of your headaches. Once the origin of your problems is identified, your PT will work with you to correct the problems, which may include:

  • Improving neck mobility – using manual therapy treatments
  • Improving your strength – using specific exercises that target your neck and upper back
  • Improving your posture – often times the person dealing with headaches is unaware of problematic postural tendencies
  • Modifying your workstation or home office

Call us at (866) 588-0230 if you have been experiencing tension headaches and the tennis ball test is positive. Please understand that living with pain is not an option. There is a solution, and often it is pretty easily fixed. Your movement specialists at Kinetic Edge Physical Therapy are equipped to help you experience better comfort and performance to restore your health, happiness, and hope!

Information adapted from Move Forward and the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA)

Tuesday September 22, 2015



Chandler_2012Jun07_0929Got 20 minutes? Then you’ve got time to help Kinetic Edge Physical Therapy on its mission to transform lives and restore hope through movement. During the month of October, Kinetic Edge Physical Therapy is teaming up with The Healthiest State Initiative in honor of National Physical Therapy Month. The Healthiest State Initiative’s goal is to bring communities together by having an organized Healthiest State Walk in all of Iowa’s 99 counties.

This year, the theme for National Physical Therapy month is #AgeWell. Exercise may be the closest thing we have to the fountain of youth. The right type and amount of it, prescribed by a physical therapist, can help prevent or manage many age-related health conditions.

So join us on October 7 as we participate in the Healthiest State Walk, where Kinetic Edge will be joining thousands of Iowans across the state to walk in support of the Healthiest State Initiative.

Chandler_2012May13_1389The walk will begin at Kinetic Edge Physical Therapy in Des Moines and will end approximately 20 minutes later.

Our Healthiest State Walk officially starts at 12:00 PM, but please join us a few minutes early for a company photo.

We look forward to seeing you all as we continue making strides toward becoming a healthier state that ages well. With your support, we can become a better Iowa.