It’s that time of the year where the holidays are approaching, a new year is starting, and you’re thinking about all of the novel resolutions you’re going to keep for 2023. Let physical therapy be one of the first on your list.
Let me explain. What even is physical therapy? Who is it for? Why should I go if I don’t have pain? For starters, physical therapy is a great preventative measure to assess your movement capacity and biomechanics. Over time, our bodies naturally develop degenerative changes and adapt to various stressors from everyday life. This can lead to alterations in our musculoskeletal system contributing to progressive changes in joint mobility, muscle length, motor control or strength which can impact the way we move. This can contribute to further problems down the line such as arthritis, tendinitis, degenerative joint disease, and more. After all, your body is going to find the easiest way to help you complete a motion or activity, but does that mean it’s the right way? This is where seeing a physical therapist can provide significant value to keeping your body healthy and strong.
What is Physical Therapy?
Physical therapists are movement specialists who specialize in identifying faulty movement patterns, reduced joint mobility, decreased motor control, and areas of weakness or instability. They provide hands-on treatment to address specific impairments, patient education, and exercises prescribed specifically for your condition. Seeing a physical therapist can be incredibly impactful to ensure proper rehabilitation and healing to an injury as well as provide insight on the biomechanics of your body and how this carries over with your daily activities. Additionally, they can perform movement screenings designed to identify areas of limitations that may predispose you to future injury or have been contributing to a plateau in your training.
Physical Therapy Rehabilitation Services
The more common and well known reason physical therapy is sought out for is rehabilitation services. Chances are you’ve had some injury in the past that’s been neglected or experienced some nag or/pain that developed overtime that you figured would just go away on its own. What happens if it persists? What’s the next option? You can get ahead of your care and health by seeing a physical therapist in the early stages of injuries. A study conducted in 2012 published in the National Library of Medicine found that patients with acute or subacute low back pain receiving physical therapy within the first two weeks of symptoms were consistently associated with decreased pain, improved functional outcomes, decreased health care utilizations and cost measures compared with those receiving physical therapy later.1 Early, proactive care to injuries can help lower medical expenses such as doctor visits, medications, corticosteroid injections, and surgeries. Getting ahead with physical therapy can save you time and expenses in the long run, but why wait to be injured to start?
Physical Therapy Proactive Services
Similar to yearly physicals with your doctor or cleanings with your dentist, a physical therapy visit should be a preventative measure everyone does to understand how their body is moving and how these biomechanics affect daily movements. You get your annual blood work to make sure there is homeostasis within your bodily organs, but why is this a foreign concept to our muscles and joints? You wouldn’t want to wait until after you have a heart condition to deal with it, so why put your joints on the back burner? We should learn to proactively work on improving the way we move, rather than reacting to how it’s feeling. Physical therapists are fully equipped to provide a physical examination and movement screening to identify any discrepancies in your functional movement capabilities.
What is a movement screening?
Movement screenings test functional movement patterns used to analyze and examine an individual’s biomechanics. These assessments can help identify underlying mobility or stability deficits to provide insight on how functional your body is moving. Routine movement screens are a great way to identify and correct areas of limitations that may predispose you to further injury. Our bodies do a great job of accomplishing the task we want even when we don’t always have the capability to complete it by ways of compensatory patterns.
For example, have you ever squatted and noticed that your heels are coming off the floor early as you go down? Or tried lifting something overhead and felt an uneven shift between your shoulders? These can all be signs that something is restricting your body such as inadequate mobility to properly go through the full range of motion, poor stability to maintain control, or decreased motor control (the body’s ability to direct the motion of a muscle via neural connections from the brain). The more you continue to train into these areas of limitation, the higher your risk of injury becomes. This becomes an even greater issue if you start to increase the load demanded on these movements with heavier weight or higher intensity tasks that the body isn’t equipped for. Movement screenings are a great way to identify these limitations before they become an issue.
Movement assessments can be especially useful for athletes looking to progress their performance and training. If you feel like you’re plateauing with a certain lift, unable to increase your pace or mileage, or just feel stuck in your fitness journey, this is a sign to see your physical therapist. That block you’re feeling can be several things; unconscious fear or apprehension whether your body can handle this new level of activity or limitations in mobility or stability of your body that is preventing you going forward. Ensuring that your body is moving fluidly and safely with good control is optimal in progressing both your athletic performance and mentality towards the sport. Having a comprehensive movement screening can help identify and fix those faulty movement patterns with specific exercises designed to address those issues.
Take the First Step
Here at Perfect Stride Physical Therapy, we hear you. We know that you care about your body and are looking to move forward in your next steps to become a better you. Whether that means being more understanding of how your body is moving or wondering how you can feel stronger and more stable in your everyday life or recreational activity, Perfect Stride has the service for you. In addition to our regular physical therapy and training services that we have, our Doctors of Physical Therapy also provide movement screenings for individuals who are interested in learning about their body and improving their performance. Our movement screenings entail a one-on-one hour session that consists of in-depth observation and analysis of different movement patterns, a detailed assessment of findings, and specific exercises tailored to your individual needs.
From now until the end of 2022, Perfect Stride is offering our movement screens for half off at $99 (regularly $200). Call us at (917) 494-4284 or email email@example.com now to schedule your movement screen to be prepared for what 2023 will bring you.
Gellhorn AC, Chan L, Martin B, Friedly J. Management patterns in acute low back pain: the role of physical therapy. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2012 Apr 20;37(9):775-82. doi: 10.1097/BRS.0b013e3181d79a09. PMID: 21099735; PMCID: PMC3062937.