Physical therapy (PT) is a form of healthcare that focuses on helping people recover from physical injuries, illnesses, or disabilities. It involves using exercises, manual techniques, and other modalities to improve physical function and mobility.
While physical therapy is often prescribed after an injury or surgery, it can also provide a wide range of benefits for people looking to improve their overall health and well-being. In this blog, we will discuss three key benefits of physical therapy.
1. Improved mobility and flexibility
According to the Arthritis Foundation, PT can enhance mobility and aid in the recovery of affected joints, promote strength to support joints, and preserve fitness levels.
Here are some examples of how physical therapy achieves this:
Targeted exercises: Physical therapists are experts in designing exercises that target specific muscles and joints in the body. Focusing on these areas can help improve range of motion, reduce pain, and increase overall strength and flexibility.
Stretching: Stretching is a key component of many physical therapy programs. By gently stretching tight muscles and joints, physical therapists can help to improve flexibility and range of motion. This can be especially important for people who have experienced injuries or surgery, as it can help to prevent scar tissue from forming and limit the development of stiffness and tightness in the affected area.
Manual therapy: Manual therapy techniques, such as massage, and joint mobilization and manipulation, can help to improve mobility and flexibility by loosening tight muscles and joints and increasing blood flow to the affected area. These techniques can also help to reduce pain and inflammation.
2. Pain management
Researchers have been investigating how physical therapy can help patients who suffer from chronic pain reduce their reliance on opioid medications.
A study focused on individuals with chronic low back pain found that receiving physical therapy early resulted in reduced opioid use over both the short and long term. In another study, which looked at physical therapy's effects on chronic low back pain, patients who participated in physical therapy were prescribed opioids less frequently during their subsequent healthcare appointments.
Examples of physical therapy techniques in pain management include therapeutic exercises, electrical stimulation, stretching, taping, cold and heat therapy, and massage.
3. Improved balance and coordination
Our balance and coordination can decline as we age, increasing the risk of falls and other accidents. Physical therapy can help to improve balance and coordination, reducing the risk of injury and improving the overall quality of life.
Your physical therapist may prescribe exercises that focus on improving balance and stability, such as standing on one leg or walking on a balance beam. They may also work with you on activities that will enhance coordination, such as throwing and catching a ball or navigating an obstacle course.
Getting the most out of physical therapy:
Physical therapy requires the patient and therapist to work together for maximum benefits. Below are a few tips to help you get the most out of your therapy sessions.
Set specific goals: Work with your physical therapist to set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals aligned with your desired outcomes.
Communicate openly: Be open and honest with your physical therapist about your pain levels, limitations, and concerns. This will help them tailor your therapy program to your unique needs.
Attend all sessions: Consistency is key when it comes to physical therapy. Attend all scheduled appointments and complete any recommended exercises or activities between sessions.
Follow instructions: Your physical therapist will likely provide you with exercises or stretches to perform at home. Make sure to follow their instructions carefully and don't skip any steps.
Listen to your body: Pay attention to how your body feels during and after physical therapy. If you experience pain or discomfort, let your physical therapist know immediately, so they can adjust your program as needed.
Practice self-care: Besides your physical therapy sessions, take care of yourself by getting enough rest, eating a healthy diet, and staying hydrated.
Stay positive and motivated: Physical therapy can be challenging, but staying positive and motivated can help you progress toward your goals. Celebrate your successes along the way, regardless of how small they may seem.
Ready to feel your best?
Physical therapy is a powerful tool that can help people of all ages and abilities improve their overall quality of life. With the right treatment plan and guidance, physical therapy can help you achieve your health and fitness goals and live a happier, healthier life.