Physical therapists diagnose, manage and treat disorders of the musculoskeletal and nervous system. They utilize a variety of medical equipment and modalities, as well as manual skills, to treat a wide range of injuries and conditions.
The primary goals of physical therapy include reducing pain, restoring mobility and improving overall functional levels. Subspecialties include spine rehabilitation, hand rehabilitation, post-operative care, aquatic therapy, pediatric and geriatric orthopedic rehabilitation and work injury management.
Physical therapists work closely with physicians to help people recover from injury, disability or surgery and return to their normal activities. Below are a few guidelines to aid in your recovery.
Stretching Tight Muscles and Joints
Stretching is essential to maintaining a good range of motion with joints and flexibility of muscles. If you have stiff joints or tight muscles, normal activities, such as climbing stairs or reaching overhead, can be affected. With proper stretching, these functions can be preserved.
After an injury or surgery, scar tissue forms and soft tissue contracts. It is important to regularly stretch in these scenarios to ensure that scar formation does not get in the way of your rehabilitation.
Exercises to Strengthen Your Body
Strengthening exercises should be performed to help you improve the function of your muscles. The goal is to improve strength, increase endurance and maintain or improve range of motion.
Post-operative exercises should always be advised by your physician and physical therapist, as there may be specific restrictions for your injury.
Core Strengthening and Stability
One of the most recent developments in physical therapy is the emphasis on core strengthening and stability. Without a solid foundation (i.e., core), you are susceptible to acute injury and chronic overuse issues.
Core strengthening emphasizes the muscles of the back and pelvis. Some exercise programs, such as pilates, are good for increasing the body’s core stability.
Ice and Heat Application
Ice and heat are useful in warming up and cooling down muscles. Additionally, these methods can stimulate blood flow and decrease swelling. These can be important aspects of the recovery process. The key to proper ice and heat treatment is knowing when to ice and heat an injury.
There are many other guidelines to follow when it comes to physical therapy. If you have questions about this or would like to discuss other orthopaedic issues, contact Campbell Clinic.
A portion of this post was adapted from Verywell Health.