Physical therapy is a rehabilitative treatment to strengthen muscles and remediate impairments, such as shoulder or back pain, through specialized exercises. Patients may visit their licensed physical therapist on a weekly, monthly, or annually, depending upon their condition. Physical therapy positively impacts physical and mental health and well-being in a variety of ways.
If you’re unsure as to whether or not you should begin physical therapy, here are eight benefits to consider:
1. Physical therapy increases range of motion in joints.
Limited range of motion in your joints caused by swelling, weak muscles, dislocation, arthritis, osteoporosis, and/or other conditions, heightens the chance of you suffering from an injury in the future. The exercises you do at physical therapy can help increase the range of motion in your joints, improving their ability to function properly.
2. Physical therapy relieves chronic pain.
According to a 2015 American Pain Society study, shared by science news site ScienceDaily.com, nearly 50 million Americans suffer from “significant chronic pain or severe pain.” Managing this constant discomfort, whether in your back, neck, shoulder, wrist, or any other part of your body, can be easier when you routinely see a physical therapist, as he or she will help you perform certain exercises to improve your flexibility, increase range of motion, and ultimately, reduce pain.
3. Physical therapy could help you heal from injury.
Whether you have tennis elbow or a sprained ankle, getting physical therapy could speed up the recovery process. For example, the latter injury can occur while playing soccer, basketball, or even walking down the street. Depending on the severity, it takes anywhere from several weeks to several months to heal. Physical therapy can help you heal more efficiently, as it may help to decrease swelling and inflammation, and increase the strength in your muscles.
4. Physical therapy helps prevent future injuries.
Although many people find themselves in a physical therapist’s office after suffering an injury, going to physical therapy is a great way to prevent future injuries from occurring, too. For instance, many athletes get hurt from overtraining. They push their bodies too much, too fast.
As explained by MoveForwardPT.com, an official website of professional organization American Physical Therapy Association, physical therapy can “check your flexibility, strength, and endurance of muscles to support your desired level of activity” and “identify training errors to ensure a safe fitness plan, no matter your previous level of activity.”
5. Physical therapy plays a major role in post-surgery recovery.
Post-surgery physical therapy is extremely common, and for good reason. For example, if you just had a knee replacement, you’ll likely begin physical therapy the following day. Your physical therapist will create an individualized recovery plan for you, with each exercise targeting a specific area of the body to strengthen the muscle and begin your path toward recovery.
6. Physical therapy may help to avoid surgery.
Sometimes, undergoing physical therapy actually helps keep you out of the operating room. For example, according to a 2013 New England Journal of Medicine study, shared by the American Physical Therapy Association, “physical therapy is just as effective as surgery in patients with meniscal tears and arthritis of the knee [and] should encourage many health care providers to reconsider their practices in the management of this common injury.”
7. Physical therapy makes you stronger.
One of the benefits of physical therapy is its ability to increase muscle strength—but it doesn’t just target the specific problem areas. A physical therapist also assesses other muscles that may be contributing to your discomfort.
As discussed in an article on health and wellness resource website, Verywell.com, hip weakness in runners could be the source of knee pain. A physical therapist would evaluate the strength, or lack thereof, in your hips, and determine whether it's the primary reason your knees are giving you trouble. If so, he or she will have you perform specific exercises tailored to improve your specific condition, which could improve overall muscle strength in more than one area of your body.
8. Physical therapy decreases stress.
Dealing with a physical impairment—whether due to surgery, runner’s knee, or any other reason—can take a toll on you mentally. By actively and effectively addressing your injury or condition through physical therapy, you’ll likely feel less stressed and experience more efficient healing and recovery.
Interested in trying physical therapy? Learn more about the physical therapy services we offer at Northport Wellness Center, as well as how our Spine and Joint Recovery program can help you achieve optimal health!