PHYSICAL THERAPY AND HEALTHY AGING
In the past, physical therapy was perceived as a reactionary profession, there only to support and help people who had already injured themselves. With the aging of the Baby Boomer generation has come the demand for “healthy aging” and the role of Physical Therapists in supporting the health and independence of America’s older adults. The value physical therapists offer the older adult community to keep them safe and independent has changed their profession to include safe, personal training and education on preventive strategies that reduce injuries altogether and help these older adults live their healthiest, injury free lives.
Their skills and knowledge base are essential when dealing with the complexities of aging. Physical therapy training includes assessment, exercise prescription and progression, all with appropriate monitoring. All these skills can be utilized for older adults before injury happens. And if used more in this way, physical therapists can play a key role in the prevention of injury, functional decline, and minimize disability.
Fitness at any age is made up of five key aspects:
If you’re experiencing limitations in movement from an injury or pain, it’s a good idea to see a physical therapist. Physical therapists are skilled at evaluating and diagnosing problems before they lead to more serious conditions. Once they know what’s causing your pain or injury, they will help you maximize movement. That usually means tailoring a personalized recovery program so you can become independent in your exercise program.
It’s a common misconception that you have to be injured in order to see a physical therapist, but PTs “definitely do preventative care,” says Ann Wendel, PT, ATC, a physical therapist and certified athletic trainer, and spokesperson for the American Physical Therapy Association. For example, if someone suffers from lower-back pain and they want to avoid getting injured and needing surgery, they may go to physical therapy. Often people who have had a baby will seek physical therapy to build strength before they go back to their pre-pregnancy exercise program. Or some people may seek physical therapy for help with their posture or stiff neck from sitting at a desk or carrying a backpack. “We would take a look and figure out which muscles are tight and weak, and come up with a good program that they can do long term on their own,” she says.
Physical therapists work with their patients in two parts, preventively and reactively:
Preventively – they work to avoid pain, injury and loss of mobility by developing fitness programs that incorporate exercise, nutrition, and lifestyle changes.
Reactively – they evaluate patients for pain, lack of mobility, weaknesses, imbalances, and functional deficits. After that evaluation, they develop an individualized plan of care that may involve exercises; therapeutic massage; modalities such as ice, heat, electrical stimulation, and cold laser; or some combination of all of those interventions.
Both the plan and the patient will be reassessed over time and changed to fit that patient’s new needs.
Physical Therapists are likely to be more specific with the design of their patients programs taking into account the frequency, volume, load, type and basing their knowledge on deep understanding of physiological, anatomical and movement relationships.
Your Physical Therapist should be your number one resource for aging well and staying injury free, while fitness training. The knowledge and expertise they provide can prevent or reduce issues before they arise, and make it easier for you to stay healthy and independent.
If you are needing help with your personal fitness planning contact us and we will help you get back to a healthy, pain free lifestyle, no matter your age.
Call us at Jason Ferine Physical Therapy and we will be glad to advise you on any of your sports training or injury needs.