Summer is here and that means everyone from the elite runner to the weekend hiker will be out and about trying to shake off the winter blues. As you increase your activity level, you may find that you aren’t as physically capable as you once were, or maybe you have been ignoring a nagging pain for far too long or perhaps there’s a longer race distance looming on the horizon. Whatever the reason, just as a regular oil change promises to keep your car running at its peak performance, an evaluation by a physical therapist may be just what you need to rev up your own engine and get back on the road safely.
A recent health segment that aired on The Today Show, featuring sports medicine physician Dr. Jordan Metzl and a team of physical therapists from the Hospital for Special Surgery, shared tips for staying healthy as we enjoy a number of summer activities from bike riding and running to kayaking and swimming. Under the supervision of a physical therapist, you can learn exercises that will strengthen muscles and prevent injuries and will be given tools to ease pain and recover faster. Physical therapists are trained to take care of the entire kinetic chain, that is, all of your muscles from head to toe.
When you take your car in for an oil change, the mechanic changes the oil, replaces the oil filter and inspects your tires, air conditioning, battery and more. You’ll likely head home with a list of future needs such as rotating the tires or changing the air filter and your car will be good to go for the next 3,000 to 5,000 miles. Similarly, a physical therapist is trained to evaluate your strength, body mechanics, posture and mobility, and to set reasonable goals for your recovery or fitness aspirations. By gathering a thorough assessment of your strengths and limitations, the physical therapist will devise a therapy plan that includes a home exercise and maintenance component. In many parts of the United States, summer is a fleeting season and there’s only so much time to get outside and participate in the activities we enjoy most.
So, what are you waiting for? Making an appointment with a physical therapist might be the difference between puttering through life and riding at high performance.