Join Elizabeth as she teaches you to reduce anxiety and improve sleep with breath control

Breathing is powerful. Learn proven techniques to reduce anxiety and sleep better at night with 4-7-8 breathing technique. Any questions?


Elizabeth Deboo, PT

Bellingham Physical Therapy

Disc disease and a weighted vest: Still a good idea?

I just posted a blog about how walking/hiking with a weighted vest can be an integral part of helping to stabilize bone density with those who suffer from Osteopenia or Osteoporosis.  However, I received a great question,

“ Hi Ed, I have degenerative disc disease in my spine. I get some intermittent nerve symptoms in my left leg L4-5,S-1 distribution and I’m thinking it’s due to the disc disease with some nerve compression. My question is whether a weighted vest would be advisable with degenerative disc disease.  I don’t want them to be squished anymore than they already are. But on the other hand, I don’t like the idea of osteopenia, thanks”

Like many things in medicine, the answer is complicated and lies somewhere in the middle.  For example, as a Physical Therapist, we were taught the importance of how to lift to avoid back injury, “use your legs to protect your back”.  Pretty standard advice and it makes sense at a certain level. However, if you look at the literature, flexing or stooping to lift is not a significant risk factor for back pain.  What is more important are other factors such as overall level of fitness and strength, flexibility, age, how many times will you be lifting and at what frequency.

The body needs “stress” (weight) to develop stronger muscles, bones, ligaments, and tendons, that is the magic of exercise.   The lack of stress or load can be damaging to muscles of the spine as studies on astronauts discovered that significant paraspinal muscle mass was lost during a long-duration mission in microgravity and was not recovered following return to Earth.  Lower back pain is a common complaint of astronauts after their return to Earth and a loss of paraspinal strength is the suspected cause.

Back to the above asked questions, I would still consider using a weighted vest as a way to increase spinal muscularity, bond density,  and balance, but I would do so very carefully, with a thought out plan.

Guidelines for using a weighted vest for those with spinal stenosis or disc disease:

  1. Read my introductory article on using a weighted vest for increasing bone density.
  2. Do not start using a weighted vest if you are currently experiencing an acute episode of back or leg pain. Resolve the current issue and try to get back to “baseline” first.
  3. Make sure you have already started to  strengthening the multifidus muscles of the lumbar spine by doing specific core exercises.
  4. When you do start to wear your vest, make sure you start slowly, 4-6 lbs at the most, in order to give your body a chance to adapt to the new “stress”. Your goal is about 10-15% of your body weight.
  5. The weight needs to be equally distributed in the front and back
  6. Walking or hiking up and down hills may be more challenging, seek out flatter terrain when first starting out with your vest.
  7. If you do experience an increase in pain, try to reduce the weight in your vest and do not increase the weight until you no longer experience the increased levels of pain.


I hope this clarifies the issue, but please let me know if you have any additional questions,

Ed Deboo, PT

Integrative Physical Therapy,

Bellingham, WA


Osteopenia or Osteoporosis? Try a weighted vest

 Osteopenia or Osteoporosis? Try a weighted vest

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, osteoporosis affects 54 million Americans, mostly women. Millions more Americans are estimated to have osteopenia (low bone mass), putting them at risk for osteoporosis.

We typically reach our peak bone mass density around the age of 30 and then spend the rest of our lives trying to maintain as much bone density as we can.

From an exercise perspective, we know that weight bearing exercises can help to stabilize bone density.  I recommend all of my patients participate in a regular, progressive load bearing strength training program. If they have Osteopenia or Osteoporosis, it is non-negotiable, you must strengthen!

Another way to add positive “weight” is to exercise with a weighted vest.  Many of my clients like to walk, hike, or jog and I recommend an adjustable weighted vest to create additional weight without the adverse effects of excessive body weight.  

Benefits include: better balance, stronger legs/hips, and improved long-term bone density stabilization.

Weighted Vest Guidelines:

  1. Consult with your Physician to see if it is appropriate for you and your current state of health.
  2. Your goal is to have an additional 15% of your body weight, but you must start slowly.  For example, if you weigh 140 lbs, your goal weight is about 20 lbs (~15%). You would then purchase a 20 lbs adjustable weighted vest and start at 4-6 lbs and let your body adjust to the new weight.
  3. Do not add additional weight until your body adjusts to the weight
  4. Be sure to have a proper fitting vest as you want it to fit snuggly and make sure you have the weight equally distributed front to back.   
  5. If you are not a runner, try to “power walk” as bone density is related to impact.
  6. You can also wear your vest during daily activities around the house.  


Do your homework and research different brands but many of my patients have purchased the “Mir Women’s Adjustable weight vest” and have been very happy with the purchase.  

Click here to shop for your weighted vest:  

Please let me know if you have any questions,


Ed Deboo, PT

Bellingham Physical Therapy

Physical Therapy Video: Treat ankle Trigger Points for ankle pain

Learn how to use a “peanut” to help alleviate lateral (outer) ankle pain from trigger points in the muscles of the fibula. Please let know if you have any questions,


Ed Deboo, PT

Bellingham Physical Therapy

Physical Therapy video: How to treat lateral (outer) ankle pain with fibular mobilizations

After a inversion ankle sprain or foot injury, it is very common to have residual ankle pain. Watch this short video to learn how to mobilize your fibula to restore better dorsiflexion to your ankle and hopefully reduce your pain. Please let me know if you have any questions,
Ed Deboo, PT
Bellingham Physical Therapy

Knee taping for a hyperextension injury

Help to protect the posterior capsule of your knee after a mild hyperextension injury with a simple taping techniques. Watch the video to learn more and have a great weekend

~ Ed Deboo, PT

Bellingham, Physical Therapy

Taping for anterior knee pain from infra-patellar fat pad irritation (video)

If you are experiencing anterior knee pain it could be a patellar tracking issue or an irritation of the infra-patellar fat pad. Watch this short video to learn how to tape your knee to unload the fat pad,
Thanks for watching and let me know if you have any questions,
Ed Deboo, PT
Bellingham Physical Therapy

Over 40 and lift weights? Are you getting enough protein to maximize your gains?




                                                      Better aging through Science:


So you are over 40 and you lift weights, but do you get enough protein to maximize your gains?  The FDA currently recommends 56 grams of protein for men and 46 grams for women, but a review of 49 high quality studies published recently in the British Journal of Medicine found those numbers to be way too low….


Men and women who ate more protein while weight training did develop larger, stronger muscles than those who did not. How much more? Up to 10% increase in strength and 25% increase in muscle mass compared to those who lifted but did not increase their protein levels.


But how do you calculate how much protein you need?  We got you covered, just takes a bit of math. The ideal protein consumption is  1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. For us that use pounds and not kilograms, remember 2.2 lbs per 1 kilogram.  In practical terms, that would amount to about 130 grams of protein a day for a 180 pound man.


Foods with high protein content include tuna at 40 grams, chicken breast at 25 grams, whey protein shakes 24 grams per scoop, and eggs that have about 8 grams of protein each. So do a quick protein count and see if you measure up.  


I know I wasn’t getting enough protein in my diet to meet these guidelines, maybe that’s why I’m so skinny  🙂

Purchase your protein powder today from

Ed Deboo, PT

Bellingham Physical Therapy


Stretching and Trigger Point work to the Levator Scapulae muscle.

Difficulty with turning your head due to pain and tightness could be a Levator Scapulae issue. Learn how to palpate, treat, and stretch this muscle. Please let me know if you have any questions

~ thanks, Ed Deboo, PT

Bellingham, Physical Therapy


Manual Therapy and Exercise prescription for common Shoulder injuries: Power Point presentation

Hey everyone,

This is the slide presentation from my class on February 20th to the Northwest Massage Connection group.  Please let me know if you have any questions,


Ed Deboo, PT

Bellingham, Physical Therapy