By far, the most common health challenge my patients face is how to remain active when a recurring injury slows them down.
Can you relate?
First, let’s talk for a moment about recurring injury.
Physical Therapy makes an enormous difference to the quality of your life and can help you avoid pain and stiffness for significant periods of time and it lowers your risk of developing diseases like early-onset arthritis.
Frankly, physical therapy will never be a forever cure. (One where the issue isn’t going to return ever again.)
Think of it like cleaning your teeth.
You do it twice per day and you visit the dentist every six months to get them checked, but I bet you still get tooth pain now and again — maybe even a cavity?
That’s because it’s expected for mechanical things like teeth (and lower backs, for example) to suffer “everyday wear and tear” as a consequence of TMBS (Too Many Birthdays Syndrome, also not a real syndrome, just real life).
Physical therapy, like the dentist, does a great job of keeping you on the right track — which means you spend less time in pain and enjoy more time without it.
The real long-term success at fighting things like back pain is in what you do.
As in, the lifestyle changes you make, the exercise classes you attend, the type of exercise that you do or don’t do, right down to the length of time you spend sitting (even how you sit).
Chronic back pain is more likely because backs aren’t made to sit with weakened core muscles and poor posture.
In fact, sitting and repeated bending and lifting are the chief cause of most chronic back pain.
So, what’s the long term solution?
Regular posture style exercises to increase muscle control using Pilates routines and mixed with lots of yoga-style exercises to make the muscles and joints more supple and flexible.
One thing I must point out – there is a huge difference between exercising and doing exercises.
Pilates and yoga are exercises that get you in good enough shape to be able to “exercise.
Exercising (running, swimming, golfing, etc.) rarely make backs stronger.
Physical therapy works strategically to help get you out of pain and put the muscles and joints back on the right track. Then it’s up to the exercises you’ll do to keep them that way (long term).
And is that a guarantee of remaining 100% fixed?
However, it does give you a great shot at being active and healthy for a lot longer (without resorting to pills or surgery), than had you decided not to do those exercises.
Simply put, the answer to this obstacle is to be found in your long-term commitment and discipline to do the appropriate exercises for your condition.
Dr. Nick Hunter is the founder of Preferred Physical Therapy, 18301 N. 79th Avenue, Suite B122, Glendale; for more information, call 623-486-3333 or visit preferredptaz.com