When most people think of physical therapy, they think of going in to address big injuries or learn rehabilitation therapy solutions after surgery. There is a lot more to it than that, though. A physical therapy evaluation can be beneficial for both rehabilitation therapy and as a preventative measure for many individuals. Proactive physical therapy can allow anyone to excel at their everyday activities, hobbies, and busy lifestyles, while ensuring they are taking the healthiest approach for a longer and more enjoyable life.
There are many differences between a proactive physical therapy approach and a rehabilitative one. However, most physical therapists understand how to use similar tools and techniques to benefit any client that walks through their door. Whether someone is working up ankle strength after a bad sprain, or just wanting to ensure they are doing everything in their power to avoid chronic pain, PT specialists can really help.
We are diving into the differences between proactive physical therapy and rehabilitation therapy so that you can understand all the ways in which physiotherapy can help you improve your life and overall strength.
Proactive Physical Therapy
Proactive physical therapy refers to using PT as a preventative measure, rather than only looking to it once an injury has occured. Most people don’t think of physical therapy until they are experiencing extreme discomfort, but what they don’t realize is how beneficial it can be to ensure those injuries don’t happen in the first place. A physical therapy evaluation can tell you many things that can be done to prevent future pain and injury, so that you don’t have to come in for the rehabilitation therapy later.
While you may have never thought to visit a physical therapist when you weren’t injured, it’s actually very common. Many people add PT checkups to their list along with the dentist and general physicals. As people age and grow, they become increasingly concerned with how to live a longer and healthier life, and avoid the pitfalls of people around them. Ie: back surgery from bad posture, bad knees, and chronic pain that seemed to arise out of nowhere! Often times, these are all things that can be avoided, or at least pushed back to a much older age if we learn healthy tips and exercises to keep our bodies stronger. This is where proactive physical therapy comes in.
Longer, Healthier Life
Firstly, visiting a physical therapist is good just to ensure a longer and healthier life. Like any other form of healthy living, there are plenty of things we can be doing right now to strengthen our bodies in really beneficial ways. Through a simple physical therapy evaluation, a therapist is able to better understand what those things are for each of us, as individuals. This is far more than a generalized list of “healthy-living tips” that you can find on the internet. Instead, your physical therapist is able to look at specific aspects of your life: activities, hobbies, time spent at a desk, and your unique physical wellbeing, to curate a list of ways you can stay healthy.
For The “Gym-Rat”
Visiting a physical therapist with this proactive mentality is especially useful for those that hit the gym hard and often. If we’re being honest with ourselves, it’s usually a matter of time before an injury arises when we spend that much time pushing our body to its limits. It’s even more common for someone who’s in the gym everyday to notice a small discomfort and continue exercising without addressing it. This is the perfect occasion to preemptively visit with a physical therapist who can talk you through ways to prepare your body for the type of stress you’re putting it under. Specific stretches and exercises can make all the difference between getting the most out of your work out and finding yourself having to rest for weeks at a time, recovering.
Before a Large Active Feat
Even if you’re not the type to be in the gym everyday, you may find yourself training for something new, one day. Maybe you set a new years resolution of losing X pounds, running a half marathon, or participating in your first triathlon. Maybe this year you want to try a new sport or help your child improve at theirs! Proactive physical therapy is very useful before taking on these big active goals. A physical therapy evaluation will help you understand where you’re at, and what it will take to reach your goal without putting your body under the kind of stress that will lead to an injury. The help of a professional can even help you reach your goals sooner!
Rehabilitation therapy is probably more familiar to most of us. If you’ve ever gone to the doctor for a surgery or injury, it’s likely that they suggested rehabilitation therapy to help you heal properly and get back to full strength as quickly as possible. These are the times that physical therapy are really crucial to ensuring you don’t develop more serious or even permanent damage down the road.
Sprains, Strains, Post-Op, Etc.
As many people know, rehabilitation therapy is very important to addressing an injury, anywhere from a simple ankle sprain, to post-operative rehab. PT allows you to utilize the most effective tools and learn the best exercises to ensure you are healing quickly, but also correctly, so that your pain doesn’t last long-term
Not just for Injuries
Although it is often used after a big injury, rehabilitation therapy doesn’t have to just come after a serious disability. If you’re having back pain, neck pain, or any other sort of discomfort, these can become far more serious than they may be now. It’s possible that you are partaking in an activity that’s actually causing this discomfort and that could lead to chronic or worsened pain over time. A physical therapy evaluation would allow you to find simple solutions that can not only ease your current discomfort but keep you from the worst case scenario later.
Visiting a physical therapist for discomforts that you wouldn’t even consider an injury is especially useful if you’re experiencing the pain during an activity that you participate in regularly. It is so common to feel a little off, and push through it instead of stopping and finding out what is wrong. A quick PT visit, and you can learn how to continue that activity in a safer and more effective way that will protect your body.
Both proactive physical therapy and rehabilitation therapy can be utilized to improve overall well being and longevity. When used correctly, physical therapy can set an individual up to be more successful at their everyday activities and prevent them from unnecessary injuries. This can help save future medical expenses and allow you to better handle injuries when they do arise.
At StrongLife Physiotherapy, we offer all types of proactive physical therapy and rehabilitation therapy to the Provo, Utah area. Whether you are training for a race, recovering from an injury, or just wanting to live your healthiest life possible, come schedule a free physical therapy evaluation today to see how we can help!
AJ Ludlow is a Doctor of Physical Therapy serving the Provo/Orem area and specializing in the treatment of musculoskeletal pain and injuries.