Are you ready?

Be Prepared for the Worst


First, I’d like to send positive thoughts and prayers to everyone impacted by Hurricane Harvey. We have all seen the devastation major storms can cause as witnessed with Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy to name just two examples.

A natural disaster may strike at any time. A tornado or earthquake can devastate entire cities in a matter of minutes. While these scary events are not pleasant to think about, it’s important to acknowledge the possibility of a disaster so we can better prepare. This week, we’re looking into what you need to know in order to prepare for a natural disaster.

How To Prepare

What do you need to do in case there’s a flood? How will your family survive if a hurricane strikes? Are you ready in the event of a wildfire? Disasters come in many forms, and the safety of yourself and your family may one day rely on how well you were able to plan today. Get ready before a disaster strikes with these comprehensive disaster preparedness steps.

10 Things You’re Not Doing To Prepare For Natural Disasters

Preparing for every disaster can be very overwhelming, and it can be easy to overlook important steps in the planning process. Does your family know where to meet if you get separated? Will your pets be allowed to stay at the nearest disaster shelter? Do you have enough emergency cash in case the power goes out? Take a moment and go through this checklist to make sure you’re completely prepared.

Steps To Save Yourself When Natural Disaster Hits

It’s one thing to have food stores and first-aid kits ready to go before a disaster, but it’s quite another to actually experience a disaster. In the heat of the moment, the last thing you’ll be thinking about is whether or not you have enough rechargeable batteries. Brush up on your survival strategies with this advice for getting out of any disaster in one piece.

Just For Fun: 9 Ways To Survive A Disaster Movie

Hollywood loves a good disaster movie. Films like “Dante’s Peak” or “2012” fill the box office every year, as directors think of new and exciting ways to destroy the world. While these scenarios are often unrealistic, when the credits roll, you can help but ask, “Would I be able to survive that?” This list offers great tips so you can survive even the worst Hollywood disaster movie.


To being prepared,

Dr. Michael Russo

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The Domino Effect of Neck Pain

Cervical and Shoulder Pain CaNeck Painn Cause Other Problems

One of the most common problems we treat at the New Jersey Institute of Balance is cervical pain, coupled with shoulder pain.

Poor posture, combined with a 9-to-5 desk job, leads to a breakdown in body structure. The head starts to lean forward, the shoulders become rounded, and the problem only gets worse. Pain will radiate from nerves in the displaced cervical disc, spreading into the rest of the neck, often moving all the way out into the shoulders and the upper back. If cervical problems are not
addressed early enough, it’s almost certain to lead to other problems, including permanent posture changes.

To see how poor posture can lead to other problems, try these two exercises:

  1. Sit in a chair, with your shoulder blades pulled back and down. Make sure your lower back is slightly arched and your eyes are looking forward and level. In this pose, raise your arms as high as you can, typically close to 160 degrees or even vertical.
  2. Now, sit with poor posture. Slouch your lower back and round your shoulders forward. Let your chin and eyes drop forward. In this pose, try to raise your arms overhead. Most people will
    experience at least a 60 degree decrease in range of motion when compared to the same exercise with good posture.

Poor posture is more than a nuisance. It can cause a domino effect of health issues throughout your body. Don’t let cervical pain or shoulder pain hinder your posture, leading to a long list of health issues.

Contact New Jersey Institute of Balance and schedule a free consultation today!

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The Wisdom of our Mentors

Two Teachers Who Changed My Life Forever

Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve been a dedicated student. I’d get home from school, and the first thing on my list for the evening would invariably be my homework. From fourth grade to my high school graduation, my parents never needed to intervene or encourage me to focus on my schoolwork or bring up my grades. Though they were always there to help me with anything I might need, I was mostly self-motivated when it came to class.

However, there are still those teachers who stick out in my memory, the ones who encouraged me to push myself to the limits of my capabilities, or gave me invaluable advice.

I remember one teacher I had in high school, Mrs. Butka, who taught geometry. I had an aptitude for math and science growing up, so right from the beginning of the semester, I began breezing through her assignments. One day at the end of class, she stopped me as I was leaving. “Oh, Michael,” she said, “Your homework is going to be different tonight.” Understandably, I was baffled. What did she mean? She started giving me tougher, more involved assignments than the rest of the class, forcing me to work ahead and do progressively more difficult proofs. I was never exactly bored with school, but the challenges Mrs. Butka threw at me every day were definitely a breath of fresh air. She was one of those teachers who kept reaching for new horizons. No matter how well I did on a test or assignment, she was always able to give me something to trip me up and keep me on my toes. With her, it wasn’t about completing a rote task, it was about excelling. That was a powerful lesson.

A little later in life, when I was at Stockton University, I met Mr. Smith. I was in his course, “Sports and Society,” basically on a whim. It was one of those general courses that you just have to fill in. Aside from it ending up being a fascinating, engaging course examining the way the world works while using sports as a lens for analysis and explanation, I’ll never forget a piece of advice he gave me at the beginning of the semester. After the first day of class, I went up to him, to let him know I was dedicated to pulling a good grade, asking for anything I could do to ensure a solid score in the class.

“What’s your GPA?” He asked.

“Not where it needs to be,” I replied. I was trying to get into PT school at the time.

He surprised me with what he said next. “Listen,” he said, sitting back in his chair. “We both know you have more opportunities than most people. You have some connections, some of those things that you can utilize to work your way through college, you’re fortunate enough to not have major student debt …” He paused. “Nothing is wrong with any of that. But remember, when you get to where you want to go, always look back and, if you see anybody struggling who didn’t have the opportunities you were given, use your resources to help them along in the process.”

It was one of those revelations that sticks with you for your entire life, that molds you at the fundamental level. I keep it in mind to this day. In fact, I actually stayed in touch with Mr. Smith for years, and even met his son, a successful attorney, years later.

Regardless of how self-motivated we may be, there will always be those who provide us with invaluable wisdom and push us further than we’d be able to go otherwise. Mr. Smith and Mrs. Butka are just two such people on a long list, but I’m incredibly grateful for everything they did for me — probably without even realizing it.

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build muscle

Race Your Rapid Metabolism

How to Build Muscle

build muscleBuilding muscle is an instrumental component of nearly all physical therapy patients’ recovery processes and a vital part of getting fit. But those with naturally fast metabolisms often struggle to gain muscle. Here are some tips to overcome that challenge.

Consume More Calories
You can have the best workout regimen in the world, but if you don’t eat enough, you won’t build even the smallest bit of muscle. Start off consuming the number of calories your body naturally expends — your current weight, multiplied by 18. Gradually increase this number every two weeks by multiplying your current weight by 20, then 22, and so on.

Eat High-Quality Foods
Calorie-dense foods, such as whole grains, nuts, dehydrated fruits, and nut butters, will aid in your quest to build muscle. Incorporating these foods into your diet is a lot easier than simply adding more food to your diet. Protein and complex carbohydrates are also key. Try to incorporate more lean beef, chicken, cottage cheese, eggs, fish, oatmeal, and healthy fats into your diet, as well.

Focus On Heavy Compound Lifts
A lower number of reps with heavier weights is most effective to spur muscle growth. Compound movements, like barbell squats, force you to challenge multiple muscle groups simultaneously, adding mass. Lift every other day, to give your muscles time to recover and add on muscle tissue.

Engage in Cardiovascular Exercise
Exercises, like jogging or swimming, strengthens your cardiovascular system, a vital part of the body, even if you’re focusing on adding muscle. While it shouldn’t be a main focus, it’s important not to cut it out completely, as cardiovascular exercise delivers vital nutrients to your muscles as they grow and develop.

Consult with NJIB to form a plan to build muscle.

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Work Out on the Road

The No-Equipment Workout

No Equipment WorkoutTo dedicated athletes, the thought of laying on a beach for a week during vacation sounds absurd. So what should you do when you have to leave your workout routine behind? Luckily, there’s a workout for you.

The Sore Legs, No Equipment Workout was created by Bobby Maximus, author of “Maximus Body.” While this workout is especially beneficial for endurance and strength athletes, anyone up a creek without a paddle — or in a hotel room without gym access — will find this workout helpful.

Maximus’ Sore Legs, No Equipment Workout involves a series of repeated lunges and wall-sits. Not only will this give you more stamina during a long run or ride, but you’ll also get rid of aches and pains. Even if you don’t have issues running now, you’ll prevent these issues down the road thanks to this workout.

Most strength athletes find themselves in a rut because they don’t do enough repetitions. This workout solves that problem. The number of repetitions increases your lower body strength and challenges you mentally too.

The Sore Legs, No Equipment Workout involves 40 alternating bodyweight lunges, followed by a 30-second wall-sit. Then, 38 alternating lunges, followed by another 30-second wall-sit. You reduce the number of lunges by two until you are down to two alternating lunges and a 30-second wall-sit. To get the most out of this workout, it’s recommended that you make it through the workout without resting.

You’ll find that a few reps into this Sore Legs, No Equipment Workout, your legs will be just that — sore. But it’s a great way to add variety into your normal workout routine and keep you at your strongest all summer long.

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Working Toward a Healthier Community

My Involvement With the Madeline Fiadini LoRe Foundation

This month, I’m eager to talk about the Madeline Fiadini LoRe Foundation for Cancer Prevention, a nonprofit organization that focuses on preventing cancer through community awareness and early detection.

I currently serve on the board of trustees. I first got involved with the organization a couple years ago, after my dad recovered from a narrow scrape with cancer. He was one of the lucky ones. They didn’t expect him to live long, but now he’s doing well, alive and better than anyone could have predicted. As you can imagine, the goals of the foundation are near and dear to my heart.

The organization meets regularly, working on consistent policy to aid the cause, as well as planning events to raise money for the foundation. Our primary mission is to make cancer prevention programs available to the community, granting access to the necessary tests and screenings to those individuals who might otherwise be denied. It shouldn’t be the case that those who are unable to pay the frankly exorbitant cost of cancer screenings should be at higher risk. We seek to close that gap and help the people of our community live longer, healthier, richer lives. It’s truly heartening to be a part of a group of people so dedicated to literally saving lives.

Just a couple weeks ago, we held our annual Brunch to Crunch Cancer. It’s always a nice event. We bring in as many local vendors as possible, who then sell their goods and services, donating a portion of every purchase to the foundation. At the same time, we have a tasty brunch prepared for every ticket holder. We always have a speaker as well. Whether it’s a doctor or a cancer survivor, it’s amazing to hear the stories of people working to help others. The brunch was a hit. I’m not sure of the exact number yet, but we definitely raised a substantial sum, almost all of which will go toward cancer prevention.

Community involvement has always been central to my life and work. My dad was mayor when I was young, and I like to tell people that the city was our extended family. He spent nearly all his time working to improve the lives of his constituents. The amount of time he gave was just astronomical. He may be living a slower life these days, but both my mother and father instilled a keen commitment to community and aiding others that’s stuck with me.

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Beat Your Fast Metabolism

People with naturally fast metabolisms often struggle with gaining muscle. Their bodies use calories so efficiently that fueling muscle growth becomes challenging. Here are tips to overcome this challenge:

Consume More Calories
You can have the best workout regimen in the world, but if you don’t eat enough, you won’t gain muscle. To calculate the number of calories your body expends, multiply your current weight by 18.

Gradually increase this number every two weeks by consuming your current weight multiplied by 20 — then, your current weight by 22. Evaluate the effectiveness of each incremental increase and increase your caloric intake in a similar manner until you are gaining weight.Nutrition

Eat High-Quality Foods
Eat calorie-dense foods such as whole grains, nuts, dehydrated fruits, and nut butters. Incorporating these foods into your diet is easier than simply eating more food. Try to avoid foods that are low in nutrients. These don’t support muscle growth.

Getting enough protein and complex carbohydrates is key. Try incorporating more lean beef, chicken, cottage cheese, eggs, fish, oatmeal, whole grains, and healthy fats into your diet.

Focus on Heavy Compound Lifts
According to, lower reps with heavier weight are most effective. Compound movements like barbell squats force you to challenge multiple muscle groups simultaneously. This stimulates a number of muscle fbers to respond by adding mass. Weightlifting every other day will allow stubborn muscles to recover between heavy workouts.

Engage in Cardiovascular Exercise
Exercises like jogging and swimming strengthen your cardiovascular system, which is important even if you are trying to put on muscle. While it shouldn’t be a main focus, it’s important not to cut out cardiovascular exercise completely because cardiovascular exercise delivers nutrients to your muscles.

Learn about our New Jersey Institute of Balance’s Nutrition and Weight Loss Management Services.

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Are You or Your Employees Suffering From an Injury? Let Us Help!

Injured Man Seeking TreatmentAn injury suffered at work can be a heavy burden on your life. After an incident, you may be unable to perform your work effectively — or at all. Yard work, walking the dog, and other everyday tasks can feel difficult or impossible. Maybe you’re even banned from certain activities to avoid risking your workers’ compensation benefits or further injury.

Luckily, work-related injuries are not the end, and they don’t have to be a costly drain on an employer’s resources. Let New Jersey Institute of Balance help, with one of our robust, comprehensive industrial rehabilitation programs.

Through each plan, you will work with our team of adept physical therapists to treat or prevent workplace-related injuries. We focus on creating industrial partners, working closely with employers to get their workers back on the job in an efficient, safe manner.

To accomplish this, our physical therapists provide hands-on, evidence-based treatment to our patients, and facilitate communication between the physician, employer, patient, and payer. When all parties are striving for a patient’s recovery, the patient’s time spent out of work can be drastically minimized.

Our post-injury programs include physical and hand therapy, work conditioning, functional capacity evaluations (or FCE’s), and functional progress notes (or functional discharge summaries) through the OccuPro system. For injury prevention within the workplace, we offer work site evaluations, online education and training, pre-placement/post-offer screening, and job demands analyses.

Our services are indispensable to both workers susceptible to or suffering from an injury and their employers. So come in to New Jersey Institute of Balance today, and see what our industrial rehabilitation program can do for you!

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Successful Treatments for Cervical and Shoulder Pain

Cervical and Shoulder PainPhysical Therapy Offers Relief

A common problem treated in Physical Therapy clinics is cervical pain combined with shoulder pain.  The patient may experience radiculopathy into either upper extremity, or pain radiating proximally into the suboccipital region or distally into the spine.  As with all effective treatment, addressing the cause of the problem leads to fast, effective relief for our patients.

A primary cause of cervical and shoulder pain is poor posture.  Many patients we treat work at a desk or computer terminal for eight or more hours a day, or 2,000 hours per year.  With time his or her posture will break down resulting in a forward head, rounded shoulders, and increased thoracic kyphosis.  If this process is not addressed, the patient may eventually experience degenerative cervical changes, cervical apophyseal disease, tightening of the anterior cervical musculature, rhomboid and upper trapezius muscle spasms and other permanent postural changes.

Poor Posture Causes Other Problems

Poor postural habits change the angle of the resting scapula on the thoracic cage.  This leads to impingement of the rotator cuff muscles (especially the supraspinatus) with shoulder elevation.

Try this yourself:

  1. Sit with good posture.  Shoulder blades are pulled back and down.  Low back is slightly arched into lordosis.  Eyes are looking forward and level.  Chin is up.  Raise your arms as high as you can.  This typically is close to 160 degrees or near vertical.
  2. Now sit with poor posture typical of patients we see in our treatment or exam rooms.  Slouch your low back.  Round your shoulders forward.  Let your chin and eyes drop forward.  Now try and raise your arms overhead.  Most people will experience a 60 degree decrease in range of motion or more.

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome is the peripheral entrapment of the brachial plexus producing symptoms often mistake for shoulder tendonitis, elbow tendonitis, nerve root pain or musculoskeletal pain of the neck and shoulder.

The Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery (1995:4: 113-117) and JAMA (2004;196: 109-111) reported Thoracic Outlet Syndrome is suspected in cases of a patient history involving upper extremity heaviness or numbness with prolonged postures such as sitting and when laying on the involved side.

If you experience these symptoms, contact New Jersey Institute of Balance to make an appointment.


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Revealed: How a Slipped Disc… or Herniated Disc Causes Lower Back Pain and Sciatica

Lower Back PainThe Top 3 Causes of Lower Back Pain are:

  1. Arthritis, Stenosis, Disc Degeneration
  2. Herniated Disc
  3. Pelvis

Here, we’re going to focus on a Herniated Disc…

Herniated Disc

The progression of a disc problem from good to bad is as follows:

  • Healthy disc
  • Bulging disc
  • Herniated disc
  • Ruptured disc

So What is it?

As a disc bulges, herniates and ruptures, it puts an increasing amount of pressure on the nerves in the spine. This leads to pain and can eventually cause numbness, tingling and pain down into the legs. This is commonly called “SCIATICA” (pronounced SI-ATTIC-A) or a pinched nerve.

How It Works.

There is a space between the bones in your back. In this space there is a disc. The disc acts as a shock absorber to help with forces in your spine.

The disc is surrounded by a gel like substance. This is held together by a wall of fibers. Sometimes the fibers can break down and allow some of the disc and gel to push out and put pressure on the nerves in the lower back.

Common Symptoms.

Most people suffering from lower back pain and sciatica from a herniated disc have pain bending forward, lifting, coughing, twisting and sitting. The pain is usually relieved with bending backwards or standing.

Can you heal a herniated disc?

MRIs. If you took an MRI of 100 people without pain, how many would have a herniated disc or other disc problem? The answer may surprise you…it’s 80.

From research and personal experience, I have worked with people who were suffering from severe back pain and sciatica AND had a positive MRI for a herniated disc. Several were experiencing weakness in their legs.

One specific instance involved a man in his thirties who had foot drop (he could not pull his foot up). He had a herniated disc on an MRI. After 4 weeks of PT, he regained the strength in his leg and was able to run 3 miles without problems.

Did he go back and get another MRI to see if the disc had healed? Of course not! I doubt the insurance companies want to pay for an MRI on a person who is now healthy and healed.

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