Get Ready for Summer: Physical Therapy for 5 Common Injuries
Do you have an old injury that left you inactive and in pain over the winter? Have you just learned to work around it and tough it out? You deserve to feel better. Without professional therapy assistance, you may not heal properly and might even feel worse or do more damage.
Physical therapy can help you recover so that you can work, play and have a great time with friends and family this summer—without the pain. It’s critical to consult with your physical therapist for a diagnosis and personalized treatment plan to overcome your pain or injury before trying any exercises mentioned. Using proper form is essential to getting the most rehabilitative benefit and avoiding any further injury.
- Back Pain
Physical therapy for back pain focuses on reducing strain and inflammation for immediate relief. You can then move on to core strengthening. Core strengthening exercises should not put extra pressure on the back as you recover; they should bolster the muscles supporting your spine and improve stability. Things you can try under the advice of your physical therapist include Partial crunches, hamstring stretches while lying down, wall sits or “bird dog” and other yoga or Pilates movements.
- Shoulder Pain
Injury, long-term overuse or improper form can all cause shoulder pain. Physical therapy for shoulder pain needs to focus on the underlying cause of your shoulder pain and may include in-office treatments like gentle massage therapy, heat and ice or other techniques to reduce pain and inflammation.
There are specific exercises and stretches to help you improve your range of motion again. If your pain comes from improper form or overuse, a physical therapist can show you more ergonomic ways to accomplish daily tasks that will prevent further injury and help you heal faster.
- Knee Pain
Since the knee is a complicated joint, proper diagnosis of the problem is essential to getting the right therapy regimen for recovery. Reducing pain and inflammation are the first steps, but after that, your physical therapist will teach you exercises to help retrain and strengthen your knee so you can get back to normal activity. Some of these exercises may be performed while sitting or lying down and are designed to work the muscles surrounding the knee without putting pressure on the knee itself. Calf and hamstring stretches can also help improve range of motion. Casual walking and other low-impact exercises may also be recommended by your physical therapist so you can gradually work up to your summer hiking schedule.
- Foot and Ankle Pain
If ankle or foot pain has had you inside all winter, it’s time for some physical therapy to get you going again. Whether you have an ankle sprain, plantar fasciitis, “turf toe” or an Achilles tendon problem, it’s important to follow your physical therapists’ guidelines for resolving those issues. Certain foot and ankle exercises using resistance bands while seated or lying down can help bolster strength and improve range of motion.
- Elbow Pain and Wrist Pain
Wrist and elbow pain are often interconnected. Whether you have tennis elbow or carpal tunnel syndrome, your physical therapist can help you reduce pain and swelling while helping you find more ergonomic ways to accomplish typical hand, wrist and elbow movements throughout your day. Overuse and poor ergonomics injuries are some of the top reasons for wrist and elbow pain. A sound therapy plan can help you regain strength and flexibility here too. A variety of stretching and flexing exercises can be recommended, depending on your specific injury.
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