Physical therapy involves the use of certain maneuvers and exercises to restore your strength, activity, and motion following an injury, illness, or surgery. Physical therapists are trained professionals who identify deficiencies in the biomechanics of the body, they and teach stretches and techniques to address problems that can be managed. Physical therapists also use specialized equipment to address your condition and injury.
Stretching Tight Joints and Muscles
A portion of physical therapy deals with stretching muscles and joints. Stretching is vital in maintaining good range of motion with the joints and for flexibility of muscles. If you suffer from tight muscles and/or stiff joints, normal activities can be affected. This includes climbing stairs, reaching overhead for items, and going through usual daily living. With proper stretching, these functions are preserved. After surgery, scar tissue forms and soft tissue will contract. To ensure that scar formation does not affect rehabilitation, it is important to go through regular stretching routines.
Strengthening the Body with Exercises
Exercises are used for strengthening, which helps with rehabilitation to improve muscle function and joint stability. The goal of improving strength aids in improved range of motion and increased endurance. Post-operative exercises should be guided by the physical therapist to ensure you do not injure the surgical area. These exercises are used in back, neck, knee, and shoulder injuries.
Core Strengthening and Stability
One of the most recent physical therapy developments involve the emphasis on core stability and strengthening. The core of the body should be solid and strong. A weak core puts you at risk for injury and chronic overuse syndromes. Core strengthening emphasizes the muscles of the pelvis and back. Some exercises programs are great for core stability, especially Pilates.
Application of Ice and Heat
Ice and heat are used for cooling down and warming up joints and muscles. Warmth also increases blood flow to the injured or healing region, and ice will decrease swelling through vasoconstriction. These mechanisms are very important for the therapeutic process.
Using high-frequency sound waves, ultrasound therapy is used to stimulate the deep tissues in the body. The ultrasound probe is passed over your body, and deep tissues are stimulated by the vibration of a sound wave. Ultrasound will lead to warming and increased blood flow to the afflicted body tissues.
Electrical stimulation is a type of therapy used to pass electric current over an affected area. Nerve condition within a region can be altered which affects muscle contractility. Blood flow to the deep tissues is increased through electrical stimulation, and patients experience diminished pain after this treatment.
Reasons for Physical Therapy
The main reasons you should have physical therapy include:
To promote healing – This is used to minimized scar tissue of the knee or shoulder following surgery, and to improve blood flow to the injured area.
To regain mobility – Physical therapy is particularly important for the knees, hips, and upper extremities. It will help prevent joint stiffening and get you moving quicker.
To enjoy a faster recovery – Rehabilitation is used to help your body recover more quickly that if you do not receive physical therapy.