October is National Physical Therapy Month. A physical therapist is a licensed professional and an expert in the management of the musculoskeletal system. In fact, in most cases you can see a physical therapist without a referral, and it is very likely that your insurance company will pay for physical therapy services.
As 2015 comes to a close, this is an ideal time to renew your commitment to your health and well-being. Physical therapy is a viable alternative to surgery and medicine. It can help improve your fitness and energy levels as well as helping with pain relief, restoration of function and improvement in strength and mobility. However, there is a lot more that your therapist can do for you.
For example, did you know that physical therapy can treat back, knee and joint pain? Did you know that conditions like obesity, osteoporosis and arthritis can also be treated by a licensed physical therapist? The treatment spectrum ranges from sports related injuries (as a result of overuse), neurological conditions like a stroke, and skeletal injuries like sprains, strains, and fractures.
Your physical therapist will help you establish the foundation for a healthy lifestyle. Some foundational principles include:
Find a way to include stretching into your daily routine. Associating it with something you normally do every day, like brushing your teeth or letting the dog out, can make it easier to remember. You can set vibration alerts on your phone to remind you to take a break from work. Simply stand up, step away from the computer and stretch your neck and back. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate. Keeping healthy muscles and joints mobile throughout the day helps improve health and vitality.
A well-hydrated body is a necessary foundation for physical health. Make it easy to keep drinking throughout the day by keeping a water bottle at your desk. Remember to sip water at regular intervals. Don’t wait till you are thirsty, because the thirst reflex is a delayed indication of hydration. If you wait till you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated.
Balance in the human body is almost as important as balance in life. Challenging yourself a little every day can strengthen your core muscles (abdominal region, trunk and lower back) and improve proprioception. Try standing or sitting (make sure you are within arm’s reach of a chair so you can hold on to something if needed), close your eyes and hold your arms out at shoulder height. Now try picking one leg up, slowly, beginning by lifting your heel and rolling forward through your toe. Try to hold your leg up for a few seconds. When you put your foot back down, do it slowly, setting down your toe, then the ball of your foot, and finally your heel. Don’t forget to do the other side so you’re equally balanced on both sides. Try to increase the duration of the one-legged stance each day.
Physical therapy has multiple facets. Although the word ‘therapy’ implies treatment of injuries, the entire scope of a physical therapist extends well beyond ‘therapy’. In fact, we can help improve every aspect of your life by transforming the health of your bones, muscles, and joints.
Children, adults and seniors (and in some cases, infants) can benefit from physical therapy. We can raise the bar on every aspect of your physical capability, by helping you perform every single movement more efficiently. Imagine if you could walk faster and climb stairs without getting out of breath. Imagine being able to lift heavy boxes you couldn’t lift before, and being able to play sports with your children and grandchildren. Ask yourself this “What if I could turn back the clock and become a healthier version of myself?”
This is something we do for our community day in and day out. In celebration of physical therapy month, we would like to teach you more about everything physical therapy has to offer. This month is about you, not us. Call Advanced Physical Therapy a call today to schedule a visit and we’ll show you how physical therapy can indeed, change your life.
Dr. Daniel Skulavik, PT, DPT, OCS, is with Advanced Physical Therapy located in the Food Lion Shopping Center, Clinton.