A Healthy Lifestyle is Not an Accident
The keys to a healthy lifestyle are not a secret, but they do take work. Eating a healthy diet is something everyone can do regardless of their activity level. But physical fitness sometimes seems unattainable for people with chronic pain. Some try to mask their symptoms with anti-inflammatory or pain-relieving medications. Others simply give up on the idea that they will ever be active again. Fortunately, there is a third option. With the help of a physical therapist, it is possible to reclaim your pain-free, healthy lifestyle.
How Physical Therapy HelpsWhether you are suffering from lingering pain after surgery or an injury or your joints aren’t what they use to be, the purpose of physical therapy is the same. A physical therapist is a movement specialist. Highly trained to diagnose problems with walking, running, bending, stretching, moving, jumping or every other physical activity, these medical professionals can pinpoint areas of improvement and create customized physical therapy treatment plans that address each patient’s unique needs. Through in-office sessions and at-home exercises, patients build endurance, improve their balance, strengthen muscles and joints, and experience pain relief without unwanted side effects.
What to expect from your first visitYour body’s needs are unique. Instead of relying on a cookie-cutter approach to wellness, a physical therapist takes time to evaluate each individual’s pain level, movement abilities, balance requirements, and lifestyle wish list. You may be asked to perform basic movements such as sitting down, standing up, walking, lifting or other motions. Once he or she has a clear picture of what you need, your physical therapist will begin constructing a treatment plan to help relieve your pain and get you back on your feet.
Physical therapy in a nutshellTypically, physical therapy involves three phases – pain relief, strengthening, and functional integration. A lot of people are hesitant to start physical therapy because they are afraid it will hurt. In reality, one of the main goals of physical therapy is to relieve your pain while helping you get stronger in the process. Ice, heat, ultrasound therapy, stretching and bracing are all tools in a physical therapist’s belt to help you feel better.
Second, an active lifestyle depends on movement. That is why physical therapy targets specific movements that increase flexibility, balance, strength, and mobility. These exercises may be done in the office of a physical therapist, or many can be done on your own at home.
Finally, being healthy is a lifestyle, not a single event. The end result of physical therapy is living the life you want, free from painful limitations. That can only happen when you apply the concepts you learn in therapy to the outside world. Your therapist will help you do just that.
In the end, an active lifestyle is possible, even if you struggle with chronic pain. Stop waiting around to get better and take your fitness into your own hands.