Chitra Mittal: Liberty Physical Therapy In Jersey City
Tell me about yourself.
I’m a physical therapist. I’ve been in Jersey City for 5 years. I was a travelling physical therapist for about 5 years before that, switching cities every 3-4 months. I got to see what’s out there.
Are Jersey City patients unique?
Jersey City has highly educated people who are motivated to do the right thing.
Be honest – You love it here, right?
Absolutely. Jersey City is home. And so is this office.
Do you have children?
Maybe one. I don’t know. It’s tough.
Is your extended family in Jersey City?
My family is in India, so my husband is all I have here. And work keeps me too busy to visit more than once a year.
I understand. It’s tough. So your work has your heart.
Right. We started in November of 2011 in a small room. We’ve already expanded twice and now we’re the largest outpatient facility in Jersey City.
Why do you think you grew so quickly?
We treat each patient individually. It’s always one on one. I think patients see the value in that. We can make sure patients are doing the exercises the right way, which is important because if they’re not doing them correctly, it’s a waste of time. And there are no cookie cutter programs. They’re tailored to the patient’s specific needs. The services we offer here are very different, very cutting edge. They’re not offered anywhere else.
Really? Like what?
Dry needling, for example.
(laughs) No no! There are trigger points in muscle. When muscles are in spasm, there are points that get activated. To alleviate that, you can either sustain pressure or use a needle. Patients love it. It’s very effective. And we also have the women’s health program.
I’m not sure what that means in terms of physical therapy.
One of the most common injuries for women is in the pelvic floor. So for example, during pregnancy, the body goes through significant changes. The hormones change but also certain muscles are overstretched, or a C-section is also traumatic to the body. The role of the pelvic floor is critical. Your bladder is there, your vagina is there, your bowels are there, the bone alignment is there, and the muscles are working hard to hold you up.
If a woman thought she had an injury in her pelvic floor, how would she know?
Is she having pain? Is there weakness-
Wait – you could fix that?? Isn’t that an…inside problem?
We do internal evaluations. We assess muscles internally. Depending on what has happened during pregnancy, women may be experiencing painful sex, spasms, weaknesses in the hips, or the problem might be that the pelvic muscles are simply working too hard. We assess which muscles are working and we create a plan to solve it.
So you can fix it. You’re saying these aren’t permanent damages?
It is definitely a fixable problem. I hear women say things like, “It’s ok to leak a little bit because I had a baby,” No! You don’t have to leak in any way. It’s completely fixable.
I feel like you might save some marriages doing this kind of work.
I’d love to. Actually a lot of spouses do call in for new (and busy!) moms.
So let’s say a mom has pain, like during sex. And two years later –
Don’t wait two years. Wait six weeks to eight weeks.
So this is completely normal to you.
Completely. Not just to me. In France, pelvic floor physical therapy is covered and routine. Dysfunctions develop when time passes. Avoid the limp, so to speak.
Tell me the signs. What are women looking for?
Is there pain? Are you not able to sit for longer than fifteen minutes? You mentioned painful sex – that’s very common. Or leakage of urine, or if the stream is slower or if you’re having trouble in any way, schedule a visit. Anything that’s different or painful.
This feels like it could be a difficult conversation to have.
Listen – pregnancy is a trauma to the body. There are changes that happen in your body due to the pregnancy. You can revert back. It is a taboo, sure. Women don’t want to tell their friends that they’re having trouble having sex with their husbands. But this is fixable.
Are there easy changes women can make on their own?
Yes. Start with simple things like breathing. Take the time to breathe correctly. Take five minutes to breathe all the way down to the pelvic floor. Your breath should reach all the way down. Uncross your fingers, close the door, and zen out. Close your eyes and imagine your breath is reaching all the way down to the floor and relaxing it. It makes a world of difference.
How can women get more comfortable with their bodies?
Remember that it’s your own body – don’t have such a disconnect. Your body will be there for you so be there for your body, take care of it!
Can we talk about your work day? Do you talk about this stuff from sunrise to sunset?
Haha. Yes! I need to disconnect a bit from work my husband says! I usually get to work around 10, maybe 10:30. I do a little bit of work at home first and I’m usually here until 7:30. For the sake of my marriage I try to leave at 7:30. But we’re open until 8:30.
What does your husband do?
He works here!
With me! He manages the business aspect. Billing, finances – I can’t do it all. He’s better qualified than I am to do that. As an entrepreneur I have learned that you can’t be the best at everything. You have to build a really fantastic team. That’s the only way you can grow. I learned that the hard way. Now I delegate whatever someone else is better at than me.
Your advice is invaluable. What else you got?
As long as you’re honest with yourself about where you need to improve, you’re good. But know you own strengths and weaknesses. It’s critical.
Give us one more for the road.
If you haven’t exercised in a while, see a physical therapist before you go to the gym to avoid injury. That one’s for the men too.