One of the best ways to stay fit and healthy is to keep moving. According to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), “Physical therapists (PTs) are movement experts who improve quality of life through prescribed exercise, hands-on care, and patient education.”
Like the adage, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” proper movement is critical for reducing the risk of future injuries and can even keep the surgeon at bay. Whether you are eight or eighty, physical therapy and physical therapists, in particular, will likely be a part of your life at some point.
A growing body of evidence supports physical therapists as an integral part of the medical team. You should get your physical examination every year from your physician. Consider also seeing your physical therapist.
History has most people thinking that physical therapy is limited to the treatment of injuries and pain. But truth be told, physical therapists are the perfect line of defense AGAINST injury and pain. Think prevention.
Here’s an ideal scenario: Johnny is a runner who wants to run his first marathon. To reduce his risk of injury during the rigorous training, he visits a physical therapist for an evaluation and to get recommendations on exercises and training techniques that can help strengthen his body to improve his performance during the race. During the appointment, he learns that he pronates, causing his kneecap to go off to the side with each step. This abnormal compression, if left untreated, can lead to cartilage sensitivity as is associated with a higher probability of joint arthritis in the future. Thankfully, Johnny is proactive and was seen early enough to fix the problem. He was prescribed hip strengthening exercises to improve alignment. Disaster averted!
But remember why Johnny went to the physical therapist in the first place – to improve his performance. By incorporating the prescribed exercises, he can run more efficiently and without pain – resulting in a PR!
How Can a Physical Therapist Help?
Physical therapists are trained to ensure the body moves as efficiently and correctly as possible. Yes, they treat injuries, but they are also excellent at helping their patients avoid them. That’s why you should consider physical therapy an essential part of your health and wellness team.
Some reasons to see a physical therapist include the following:
- Movement Assessment
- Strength/Flexibility Assessment: target areas of concern
- Balance training
- Preventative PT (i.e., preventing overuse injuries)
- Prehabilitation (rehab before surgery to hasten recovery)
- Starting a new sport
- Pre-season training (i.e., get your body physically ready for mountain biking or ski season)
When there is an Injury, PT can Help You Recover.
When your movement and function are threatened through injury, pain, or dysfunction, physical therapists can help. Trained to look at the root cause of an issue, they don’t treat the symptom; they focus on fixing the underlying cause. During an evaluation, they look at the body and pay close attention to movement patterns. These movement patterns often cause issues down the line. A physical therapist will create a customized plan to include manual therapy, prescribed exercises, and education to help you get better faster, safer, and hopefully without a recurrence.
And if you’re on the fence about getting physical therapy, you should know that it is the first-line treatment for most injuries and is almost always required before surgery can be considered. This is because physical therapy effectively addresses movement issues, injury, and dysfunction. In addition, the CDC officially recognizes physical therapy as a safer alternative to long-term pain management than opioids.
Should you see a physical therapist?
Are you starting a new sport?
Do you have a child who is an athlete and wants to prevent an overuse injury?
Do you want to prepare for the coming season’s activities?
Are you limited with an activity or unable to perform certain everyday activities?
Do you have pain?
Are you interested in non-surgical options for addressing your pain or injury?
Do you have difficulty exercising, or have you had to stop doing certain activities or exercises due to pain?
Are you getting ready to have surgery in the coming months or year?
Do you want to address the cause of your pain so it is no longer a problem?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you should schedule an appointment with a physical therapist. A bonus for you is that anyone needing physical therapy in Oregon can receive an evaluation and treatment from a licensed physical therapist without a doctor’s prescription or referral.
So what are you waiting for? Take control of your health and your ability to move. Schedule an appointment with a physical therapist today.