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The Benefits of Physical Therapy and Exercise

There are 2 things I preach over and over:

1. If you hurt or can't do something you want, find a PT (that'd be me).

2. Exercise is GREAT for you and you should do it daily! Find what you love and do it.

A google search of images for physical therapy shows one of three things in the top 20 pictures: someone with grey hair, a giant exercise ball, or a theraband. While I get it can be hard to put in a picture what physical therapists do, this is a poor representation. I haven't used a giant exercise ball in 3 years!! (But they are fun!) and I only have 1 patient currently with grey hair! This however seems to be what people think about physical therapy.

By definition, physical therapists promote, maintain, or restore health through physical examination, diagnosis, prognosis, patient education, physical intervention, rehabilitation, disease prevention, and health promotion.

I'll agree to the above statement though it is vague and seems super global. I know what I do and I'm not sure you would after reading that.

Further reading of a google search leads to WebMD and Medical News Today....

WebMD and Medical News Today states physical therapist may use the following:

-Exercises or stretches


-Heat or cold therapy


-Electrical stimulation (e-stim)

-Light therapy and lasers

What? No.

If your PT is using light therapy, ultrasound, E-stim, Ionto and heat/ice, RUN! All data does not support the use of these modalities for most injuries. E-stim has it's place but not frequently. Ionto has some research to support it usually in Achilles tendinopathy.

But again, the number one thing the research supports: exercise!!!

Physical therapy should look like this:

-Put out the fire: massage, dry needling, joint manipulation or mobilization

-Restore: exercises for strength/health and stretching for range of motion

-Build and load: return to activity and continue to build load/strength

But there is more to exercise that what meets the eye. What does exercise actually do? Many PTs would say correct biomechanics, strengthen the muscle and restore range of motion. Most people might say exercise gets you stronger and more flexible or gets you in shape and healthier. But what does that mean? You gain some muscle and lose some weight?

Here's what exercise really does:

-reduces systemic inflammation

-releases endorphins

-increases neuroplasticity

-promotes tissue remodeling

-increases self-efficacy

-improves mental health

-social support

-builds expectation of recovery

-enables return to valued activities

-empowers oneself

Exercise while on the surface seems like it will help strengthen weakness and improve flexibility, that is just the tip of the iceberg. Exercises does so much more for your physical and mental well-being!!! The benefits are astounding!

So what is physical therapy?

Physical therapy is practice of restoring deficits that cause pain and injury through the use of hands-on techniques and exercise. Physical therapist are movement specialists so who better to help you get moving and find all those benefits of exercise. If your physical therapist isn't making sure you are exercising or isn't practicing what they preach, maybe you should find another one.

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Jul 28, 2022

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