How to Set Wellness Goals (And Keep Them) - iAM Physical Therapy // La Jolla


The new year is a great time to set goals for personal improvement. While any effort toward an objective is helpful, one of the most effective ways to hit your target is to follow what’s called the SMART approach to goal setting.

SMART is an acronym for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-limited

Setting smart goals helps ensure the right focus and appropriate expectations as you start taking steps in a new direction. If goals are too large, too vague or too open-ended, you may have a hard time meeting them. Business expert George T. Doran is generally credited with creating SMART goals, which are used often in business applications, and like a lot of business strategies, they work wonderfully in many general areas.

Here’s what SMART goals look like:


A good goal is one that includes details like who, what, when, where and why. A goal such as “be happier” is vague, which makes it hard to know whether you have achieved it. A better goal might be focus on the happiness a specific activity or hobby brings such as, “I will spend more time on painting because it brings me happiness.”


The best goals have a quantity associated with them so you can evaluate your progress toward them and adjust your approach as needed. Using the example above, you could make it more measurable by saying you will paint for four hours each week. If, over time, you look back and see that you’re only painting three hours per week, evaluate ways to dedicate another hour. Being aware you may have to overcome other feelings, such as guilt, to dedicate time to yourself and not focus your time on things you think you should do that do not bring you happiness.


One of the problems with goal setting is that we sometimes dive in full of enthusiasm eager to make as much progress as possible, which leads to objectives that simply can’t be reached. When we fail to meet our goals—even the unreasonable ones—it can be disappointing and frustrating.


If what you need in your life is to better manage your depression, setting the goal to learn to ski it is just one action. This isn’t to say you can’t have goals that are related to your enjoyment of life and personal fulfillment, but take time to assemble a set of relevant objectives.


While you want to give yourself a reasonable amount of time to achieve your goals, allowing too much time can keep you from making progress. Deadlines provide motivation and help you prioritize goals over the many other tasks vying for your attention.

Short- and Long-Term Goals

In setting goals, it can be helpful to create both short- and long-term goals.

For example, a short-term goal for battling depression might be:

  • Get out of bed by 7 a.m. each day.
  • Clean the kitchen every Saturday

And long-term goals such as:

  • Obtain the certification needed to start a new career.
  • Repair my relationship with my brother.

Behavioral Change Takes Time

When it comes to modifying behavior, it’s important to be aware that it takes time to turn a goal into a habit. How long it takes is a function of many factors including the behavior, your commitment to making the change and your circumstances. But be prepared for a period of time ranging from two to eight months, according to many experts.

Get your year started on the right track with the help of iAM Physical Therapy and Wellness. Click here to claim your free sample session. 


Why Nutrition is a Must for Your Overall Fitness - iAM Physical Therapy // La Jolla


Nutrition is a large portion of our overall health, wellbeing and injury recovery. People don’t develop health issues overnight. While they might suddenly become noticeable sick very quickly, in general, chronic health issues have been developing for years by the time they are detected. For example, if someone has a heart attack, this is a sudden expression that the body has been cultivating problems in its cardiovascular system for a long time through lifestyle, environment, and diet. The same is true for cancer and other chronic issues society is developing at an alarming rate.

As the Physical Therapy practice advances towards a more integrative model, this motion symbolizes an acknowledgement of the rehab professional’s broader role as a health care provider. Physical therapists are uniquely positioned to offer patients more comprehensive lifestyle-related education including discussion of nutrition.

Both the World Health Organization (WHO, 2008) and the Physical Therapy Summit on Global Health (Dean,, 2014) have called upon all health care providers to stand in unity to help the public with epidemics of lifestyle-related diseases; the APTA has given it’s nod of approval as well.

The motion states: “as diet and nutrition are key components of primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention of many conditions managed by physical therapists, it is the role of the physical therapist to evaluate for and provide information on diet and nutritional issues to patient, clients, and the community within the scope of physical therapist practice. This includes appropriate referrals to nutrition and dietary medical professionals when the required advice and education lie outside the education level of the physical therapist*.” Further, “this motion clearly incorporates the intent of the new Vision Statement for the Physical Therapy Profession by transforming society and improving the human experience.” (APTA, 2015)

At iAM Physical Therapy, we believe nutrition is a powerful tool for creating change in the human body and that in addition to preventing disease it can also bring abundant energy, tremendous vitality and optimal health to the lives of individuals.

We are now offering nutritional services with the goal of providing clients with the tools and skills to create positive lifestyle transformations as well as the knowledge and self-confidence to embrace these transformations as lifelong habits.

As part of your individual sessions you will learn how to make lifestyle changes and improve your eating habits in order to move toward a healthier version of you. You will also set realistic goals and learn practical ways to achieve them. 

Whether your goal is to lose weight, control a chronic condition, reduce your risk of disease or maximize your athletic performance, participating in our nutritional services program will help you realize it.

Ready to make a lASTING improvement in your Health? Sign up for a free session with Dr. Jessica Wiley of iAM Physical Therapy. 

The Ultimate Guide to Running Injury Prevention


It may sound funny, but running pain can be a good thing, at least when it forewarns us of potential damage. Experiencing moderate pain while running is how the body tells us that something isn’t moving correctly. Whether or not we remain in pain is, oftentimes, up to us.

There are two ways to deal with exercise-induced pain. One is the widely accepted (but not recommended by us) use of painkillers to mask it. Painkillers help get rid of the symptom but almost never address the cause.

An alternative way to deal with running pain is to listen carefully to your body to decipher what you could be doing that is causing pain to occur and work with a physical therapist to identify the  exact source of the pain to prevent injury. 

Common Causes of Running Pain: 

  • Lack of movement – An area that is stiff, tense or does not move enough can cause running pain. Gentle movement and increasing your range of motion carefully is important.
  • Improper movement – This includes reaching too far forward with your stride, pushing off with your feet at the end of your stride, or asking certain parts of the body to do more work than they are designed to do.  
  • Overuse – Overuse is not only caused by too much repetitive movement. Lack of movement and improper movement are often the cause of overuse in other parts of the body. For example, if your hips are too stiff, your legs have to overwork.

A running assessment from a Physical Therapist can help resolve all of the above issues.

Injury Prevention Tips:

  • Gradual increases in running time / miles (10% rule)

  • Be careful of excessive downhill running

  • Reasonable amount of fast paced running

  • Adequate rest between workouts

  • Fewer hard surface runs

  • Proper eating/sleeping

  • Avoidance of complete fatigue

  • Develop stronger tissues – strength training

  • 80% of running injuries are caused by too much of an increase in mileage

  • Joggers/runners should increase their total weekly running amount by no more than 10%

  • Get a good pair of running sneakers and change them every 300-400 miles

  • Stretch regularly

The Warm Up

Any cardio exercise should begin easy and gradually increase intensity and last 3-5 minutes. Example: If you normally run a 10-minute/mile pace, warm-up running 12-13 minute/mile pace or begin with walking briskly

Cool Down & Stretching

At the end of the run, walk for around 3-5 minutes to prevent blood from pooling in your legs and to allow your heart rate to decrease. 

Stretching should be done at the conclusion of the run. Stretch to the point of tension and hold for 20-30 seconds, at least 1x per muscle group. Try not to bounce when stretching. 

If you have a particular tight spot, stretch more frequently (after the initial warm up or ice the area: 15-20 minutes several times per day (frozen peas work well) and elevate injured part while icing.

Look Out for These Warning Signs

  • Pain that is keeping you awake at night

  • Pain that is evident at beginning of run/walk then becomes worse as run/walk


  • Pain that changes your stride

  • Difficulty performing typical workouts for more than a week

  • Excessive fatigue

  • Sorer muscles

  • Increased perspiration

  • Decreased desire to train

These guidelines should not take the place of medical advice if attempting to return to sports following an injury. If an athlete requires assistance in the progression of a return to sport program they should consult with their primary care physician, surgeon, or physical therapist.

For a complete and complimentary running assessment, contact Dr. Jessica Wiley of iAM Physical Therapy.  

Upcoming Event! Rooftop Sunset Pilates

Our last event - Rooftop Sunset Yoga - was such a success we are hosting another in just a few weeks

Here are some photos from our last event 🌅 🙌 

On the roof of iAM Physical Therapy’s offices in beautiful La Jolla, CA with views of the Pacific Ocean and La Jolla Hills. 

On the roof of iAM Physical Therapy’s offices in beautiful La Jolla, CA with views of the Pacific Ocean and La Jolla Hills. 


This time, we will be focusing on PILATES - pilates exercises serve to restore the natural curves of the spine and rebalance muscles around the joints and are a great addition to any fitness or rehabilitation routine. 

Date: Wednesday Sept 13th, 2017

Time: 5:30pm - Check in // 5:55pm - Doors close

Location: Meet at courtyard between 7580 and 7590 Fay Ave. La Jolla, CA

Pilates instructor Angela Leone Buzan of Angie’s Pilates Haus will be leading the session. 

THIS IS A FREE EVENT! All levels welcome. Please bring pilates/yoga mat.

Be sure to follow iAM Physical Therapy on Facebook for announcements of more Pilates, Yoga and Wellness events!   

Click here to get tickets for Rooftop Sunset Pilates on September 13.

Pilates and Physical Therapy: A Powerful Combination


You may think Pilates is a recent fitness craze, but it was actually created in the early 20th century by Joseph Pilates to improve his fitness and physique. During World War I, he began using his exercise techniques with wounded soldiers as a form of rehabilitation. When Pilates came to America after the war and began working with injured dancers, the Pilates exercises gained popularity.

Patients with an array of neurological and orthopedic issues, including spinal cord injuries, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, stroke and balance issues and traumatic brain injury, can benefit from a Pilates-infused rehabilitation program as it reinforces postural alignment, muscle performance and motor control.

Pilates exercises serve to restore the natural curves of the spine and rebalance muscles around the joints. This involves placing more emphasis on dynamic pelvic and scapular stabilization and developing the spine-supporting trunk muscles of the abdomen, back, and buttocks.

Retraining and exercising our core muscles is widely used in managing every conceivable orthopedic condition, but particularly low back and neck pain. 

What the research says: 

A 2008 pilot study found that Pilates exercises may be effective and safe for women who are recovering from breast cancer treatments. Study participants noted improvement in shoulder range of motion, pain levels, mood, and upper extremity function.   (Keays, Harris, et al. Effects of Pilates exercises on shoulder range of motion, pain, mood, and upper-extremity function in women living with breast cancer: a pilot study. PT Journal. 2008:88(4).)

A 2006 randomized controlled trial (RCT) found that a Pilates-based treatment approach was more successful than usual care in a population with chronic, unresolved LBP. (Rydeard R, Leger A, Smith D. Pilates-based therapeutic exercise: effect on subjects with nonspecific chronic low back pain and functional disability: a randomized controlled trial. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2006 Jul;36(7):472-84.)

A 2003 study found that Pilates trained subjects could better contract the transversus abdominis muscles and maintain superior lumbopelvic control compared to those who completed regular abdominal curls or no abdominal exercise at all. (Herrington, Davies. The influence of Pilates training on the ability to contract the transversus abdominis muscle in
asymptomatic individuals. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies. 2003:9.)

Contact iAM Physical Therapy to learn more about how we can incorporate properly executed Pilates exercises into your personalized fitness maintenance or rehabilitation program. 

A New Approach to Physical Therapy and Injury Prevention

Physical Therapy is more than just a reactive treatment, it can also be preventative and lifestyle enhancing.

Physical Therapy is more than just a reactive treatment, it can also be preventative and lifestyle enhancing.

When it comes to physical therapy, many people have one of two thoughts. Either “I’m not hurt, so I don’t need physical therapy” or “I’ve been to a physical therapist before and they just put me on machines and gave me boring exercises.” 

Many of you know physical therapy as a reactive process. Somewhere you go when you get hurt, where you are put on machines, given boring exercises and stretches, and maybe a few minutes of hands-on therapy with a therapist. 

However, the physical therapy profession is evolving. It now includes analyzing movement and predicting injury risk, determining areas of potential injury, addressing strength imbalances, and improving posture, performance, and health. Basically, optimizing your movement. Helping you feel better, even when you didn’t know it was possible to feel better. What could possibly be cooler than that?

But while the profession is changing, but that doesn’t mean everyone is changing with it. We are in a new age of physical therapy and a new age of health and fitness. As with any change, some people lead and some resist. It is up to you to be knowledgeable and informed so you can better yourself.

Emphasis on Movement

Gone are the days where we look at muscles in isolation. As Thomas Myers, author of Anatomy Trains, once put it - we do not have 600 muscles, but instead we have one muscle in 600 pockets. These muscles do not work in isolation. They work together to create movement. And this is precisely why you can’t look at, train, or heal muscles in isolation.

Even more, musculoskeletal problems are a lifestyle problem. As a society, we simply do not move enough. Most of us sit all day, and even those of us who workout often have to spend hours at a computer or in a car. This lifestyle changes our movement system. It creates muscle imbalances that affect how we move. It creates mobility restrictions, which mean we have to compensate elsewhere to maintain mobility and movement.

This is where physical therapy - especially the new age version - excels. Through optimizing movement to improve your health. And this is what you will see in the profession: a shift from boring exercises that isolate muscles to functional movements. Dynamic full-body stretches, and other exercises that improve alignment, stability, and mobility. Exercises that mimic what we do in daily life.

Regular Check-Ins for Prevention of Injury

Physical therapists have a unique set of skills when it comes to preventative medicine. Movement is crucial for our health, but it also tells us so much. It can tell us if there is a dysfunction through pain, imbalance, instability, or mobility restrictions. When we look at movement, we can see if further assessment is required to pinpoint a potential problem, potential source of injury, or source of pain.

Movement can hurt us if it is done incorrectly, but correcting the dysfunction can prevent pain and injury from ever occurring. Consider oral health. Most of us go to the dentist on a regular basis for a check-up. This makes perfect sense. Why have a tooth pulled when you can prevent the cavity to begin with?

Our musculoskeletal health should be no different. We have the means and the skills to monitor our musculoskeletal health to make sure we are moving efficiently, without major compensations, imbalances, or restrictions. Traditionally physical therapy is thought to be reactive. You get hurt, you have pain, and you seek help. But why wait for the injury to occur when you can prevent it from happening?

This is the new age of physical therapy. No longer should you feel as though you must be injured to work with a therapist. Instead, regular check-ins should and will become the norm. To prevent injury. To move better, perform better, and feel better even when you didn’t know you could.

It’s time you take your health and fitness into your own hands. Prevent future injury. Monitor your movement system.

Make your appointment with iAM Physical Therapy and get a free session with Dr. Jessica Wiley. Your body will thank you, both now and in the future.

Upcoming Event // Rooftop & Sunset Yoga - Back by Popular Demand!


Our first Rooftop and Sunset Yoga event was a huge success. Thank you so much to everyone who came out to be a part of it, including our partners YogaSmoga, Beaming, and Buddhi Yoga. 

I AM Physical Therapy is excited to announce that due to popular demand, we will be hosting another Rooftop and Sunset event on July 20th. Same location, same beautiful views. 

Yoga Instructor: Lauren Padula

All levels welcome! Please bring yoga mat - meet at courtyard between 7580 and 7590 Fay Ave. La Jolla, CA. 

6:30pm - Check in

6:55pm - Doors close

7:00pm - Yoga

This is a FREE event, but with limited space - so be sure to reserve your spot!

Upcoming Event // Rooftop & Sunset Yoga

Join us June 28th for a free sunset yoga session with gorgeous views.

Join us June 28th for a free sunset yoga session with gorgeous views.

  Celebrating iAM Physical Therapy's 1 year anniversary! 

Join us WEDNESDAY, JUNE 28 for La Jolla's premeire Rooftop & Sunset Yoga experience with magnificent views of the Pacific Ocean and hills of La Jolla.

Yoga Instructutor: Jen Snyder of Buddhi Yoga
All levels welcome! Please bring yoga mat - meet at courtyard between 7580 and 7590 Fay Ave. La Jolla, CA. 

Special Guests!

YOGASMOGA - 20% off all trunk show items. 

Beaming Organic Superfood Cafe - Cold pressed juices, smoothies and protein bites (yum!)

This is a free event. Suggested donation of $15 to benefit City Ballet of San Diego's Pointe Shoe Fund. 


Questions? 858-224-3387 or

Why Physical Therapy Should be Part of Overall Health and Wellness

Taking charge of your overall health and wellness means making the right lifestyle choices to maximize the quality of life.  Optimal health and wellness includes physical, emotional, and environmental well-being .  Physical therapy helps promote overall health and wellness through prevention or treatment of a condition or injury.

Physical Therapy and Health and Wellness 

Physical therapy emphasizes the wellness and prevention aspect of patient care while also educates and encourages active lifestyles to enhance the quality of life.  Here’s how physical therapy can help with your patient’s overall health and wellness.  Physical therapy can help to:

  • Improve ability to perform daily tasks and activities
  • Strengthen muscles and bones
  • Control weight
  • Reduce risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Reduce risk of some cancers
  • Reduce risk for type 2 diabetes
  • Improve mental health and mood 

Lifestyle Choices for Health and Wellness

A physical therapist can help patients make lifestyle choices that may minimize the risks for chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart diseases.  Making lifestyle choices can add years to our lives and increase the quality of living at the same time.  

Nutrition Choices for Health and Wellness

Proper nutrition is one of the keys to overall health and wellness.  To ensure maximum health, you need to select foods wisely.  A physical therapist can work with patients to develop a unique nutrition plan to support maximum fitness and to protect against lifestyle diseases. 

Exercise Choices for Health and Wellness

One of the most significant ways you can increase your longevity, improve your health and decrease any pain is through proper exercise.  Physical therapists will create an exercise plan specifically for patient’s overall health and wellness needs and goals. 

To ensure patients achieve overall health and wellness success, we go above and beyond (pun intended) the normal physical therapy sessions by developing a personalized health and wellness plan specific to our patients’ needs.  

Schedule an appointment today with iAM Physical Therapy to get on the fast track to overall health and wellness!  

Powerful Duo to Eliminate Back Pain - Physical Therapy and Yoga

If you suffer from low back pain, you are not alone. 

According to the American Physical Therapy Association, the majority of Americans will experience back pain in their lifetimes. Back injuries are the most common reason for missing workforce after "the average cold" and the single-leading cause of disability worldwide. In the U.S., more than $50 billion is spent each year trying to treat people who have pain associated with the spine.

One in three adults across the country says back pain impacts everyday activities, and with our highly physical lifestyles up here in San Diego, back pain can even prevent us from enjoying all that Southern California has to offer! Without intervention, 60 to 80 percent of people experience the same back issues within two years of first having a problem.


Yoga has been increasingly studied over the past 10 years as a way to solve back and spine issues. This research has found that, across the board, yoga can reduce pain, improve mental and physical function, decrease depression and improve quality of life. It can also be safely practiced by those who suffer from spinal problems. In comparison to many other long-term treatments, yoga is usually more cost-effective because it comes in a group format or at home.

It is important that if you do have back pain issues that you work closely with a trained and certified Physical Therapist - otherwise yoga may do more harm than good. While yoga teachers are more than qualified to instruct proper pose positions - some poses, even if performed well might not be appropriate for those with back pain issues. 


As the health care system shifts from caring mostly for those with acute illness to caring for those with chronic disease, yoga is gaining popularity as an intervention activity. Health care providers now suggest preventative strategies like yoga to guard against modern, chronic illnesses. 

Yoga poses are one of eight components that make up this ancient discipline of physical, mental and spiritual health. Below are seven yoga poses to help those who suffer from back pain. Again, always check with your physical therapist to determine if these movements work for your specific diagnosis.


Lie on your belly, resting on your elbows with your legs together. 

Keep you elbows aligned under your shoulders. 

While breathing, pull the shoulders away from the ears as you find the chest coming forward. 

Relax your belly on the mat.


Lie on your back with your right leg straight and right arm pressing onto your thigh.

Lift your other leg toward the ceiling, keeping it bent with a strap around your foot.

Slowly straighten the lifted leg, keeping your arm straight. 

Pull both shoulders toward the mat.


Lie on your belly with your arms at your side and your thumbs facing downwards.

While reaching your hands and shoulders toward your feet, spread your legs toward the corners of the mat. 

Lift the arms and legs off the mat about 2-4 inches, keeping your arms by your sides.

The back of your neck should stay long as you are looking at your mat. 

Hold this lifted position while breathing.


Sit back onto your heels while reaching your arms forward. Sit on a pillow if your knees cannot take the pressure.

Relax and breathe while holding the position.


Lying on your back, bend your knees so the middle fingers graze your heels. Keep your knees and feet at hip-width apart. 

Squeeze your shoulders together behind you as you press the palms of your hands into the mat. 

Gently engage your core and inhale as you lift your hips up. 

Continue to breathe as you press the arms into the mat.


Come into a low, deep lunge with your back knee down and your front ankle under your knee. 

Gently engage your core and bring your belly button to the spine, pulling your ribs toward your hips. 

Lift your arms up with the palms facing, as if holding a beach ball. 

Reach the fingers toward the sky while lifting your chest/sternum up, keeping the back of your neck long.


Lie on your back and bend one knee, crossing it outside of the opposite foot. 

Use your hand to put slight pressure on your bent knee to bring it to the floor. Keep both shoulders flat on your mat. 

Extend your opposite hand out and look at it, feeling the stretch through your back and spine. 

For a deeper stretch, slowly straighten your bent knee.

iAM Physical Therapy will be celebrating it’s 1 year anniversary with a free Sunset Yoga and Physical Therapy Session. Fill out our contact form to stay in touch and learn more!