Wholistic healing after an illness, injury, or surgery often requires the combined efforts of several healthcare teams and therapies. Physical therapy, administered by physiotherapists, is pivotal in fully recovering from any ailment. This procedure is also pivotal for athletes looking to boost their efficiency.
Here, we explore physical therapy as it relates to bodybuilding and athletic activities, the benefits, and the types of physical therapy. Keep scrolling.
What is Physical Therapy?
Physical therapy, also known as physiotherapy, is a healthcare specialty aiming to evaluate, assess and treat people with mobility-related issues. The specialist, known as the physical therapist or physiotherapist, helps individuals promote, maintain, and restore their health. Physical therapy is medical care that allows individuals to relieve pain, improve function and movement, and live better overall. This is done through physical examination, diagnosis, prognosis, education, intervention, prevention, rehabilitation, and health promotion.
The overall purpose of physical therapy is to help promote physical health by treating illnesses or injuries that limit an individual’s ability to function in their day-to-day activities. To help people recover from injuries or illness quickly, the physical therapist uses the person’s case history and examination to know the condition of the illness. They incorporate the results of a test like X-rays, CT-scan, MRI findings, and electromyograms to create individualized management and treatment plans.
Injury, diseases, increasing age, and other environmental factors can threaten functional abilities and mobility. Physical therapy helps people with mobility dysfunction recover quickly and prevent loss of mobility by establishing a fitness and wellness program to develop, maintain and restore mobility and other functional abilities.
Physical therapy involves manipulating and exercising various muscle groups, including the upper arms, legs, and back. This helps improve balance and joint and muscle functions and helps people climb, walk, stand, and generally move better. Although mainly administered in older adults, physical therapy can be recommended at any age and is recommended for a variety of cases such as;
- Preventing or recovering quickly from a sports injury
- Helping to improve balance to prevent falls and injuries
- Helping to relieve pain
- Recovering faster and returning to proper motion after getting a splint
- Improving mobility even when healthy
- Preventing disability following surgery
- Helping parturients recover after childbirth
- Helping people with paraplegia adapt to an artificial limb
- Assisting patients in managing chronic illnesses like arthritis, diabetes, or heart disease.
- Rehab after accident, injury, surgery, or stroke
- Helping individuals use assistive devices like cane or walker
- Age-related medical conditions
Who is a Physical Therapist?
A physical therapist or physiotherapist is a professional licensed by the state to carry out therapy services. To function as a physical therapist, you must have a master’s degree or a clinical doctorate from an accredited institution. You must also write a licensing exam to be able to practice as a physical therapist.
A physical therapist gains experience in various medical fields such as; women’s health, orthopedics, musculoskeletal, neurology, cardiopulmonary, sports medicine, neurology, geriatrics, endocrinology, pediatrics, electromyography, and wound care. The physical therapist conducts light therapy, iontophoresis, heat, moist heat, cold therapy, and electrical stimulation (e-stim) procedures to help their client recover from illnesses and improve mobility.
Physical therapists can rely on several techniques in their arsenal when dealing with patients. Some of these include;
- Range of motion exercises
- Transfer training
- Ambulation (walking) exercises
- Muscle-strengthening exercise
- General conditioning exercises
- Coordination and balance exercises
- Use a tilt table
Typical Conditions Physical Therapy May Help With
Physical therapy is a core component of treatment and recovery from various ailments. Physical therapy is also often recommended as a supplementary therapy to treat certain other conditions.
Interestingly, physical therapists may specialize in any conditions for which physical therapy is recommended. Some of these conditions include;
- Cardiopulmonary conditions like cystic fibrosis, post-myocardial infarction, heart failure, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
- Sports-related injuries like tennis elbow and concussion
- Pediatric conditions like muscular dystrophy and cerebral palsy
- Conditions that affect the hand, like carpal tunnel syndrome and trigger finger
- Female health and pelvic floor dysfunction like lymphedema and urinary incontinence
- Musculoskeletal dysfunction like rotator cuff tear, temporomandibular joint disorder, and back pain.
- Skin injuries or conditions like wound care, diabetic ulcer, and burns
- Neurological disorders like traumatic brain injuries, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis, and vestibular dysfunction.
Types of Physical Therapy
Physical therapy may be divided into different classes based on the treatment type. These classes include :
Geriatric Physical Therapy
This type of treatment helps aged people or older people with certain conditions that impair their physical and mobility functions, including arthritis, Alzheimer’s, osteoporosis, incontinence, balance disorder, and hip and joint replacement. This therapy helps older people with these conditions to retrain their muscles, reduce pain, restore mobility and improve their physical fitness level.
Orthopedic Physical Therapy
This type of therapy is for people with musculoskeletal injuries that involve the fascia, tendons, bones, muscles, and ligaments. This therapy is best for people with sprains, tendinitis, bursitis, fractures, recovery from orthopedic surgery, and other chronic health problems. Orthopedic treatments include manual therapy to treat musculoskeletal pain and disability, strength training to improve bone and muscle strength, joint mobilizations, mobility training, etc.
Neurological Physical Therapy
This treatment helps people with neurological conditions like brain injury, cerebral palsy, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injury, and stroke. Neurological physical therapy aims to improve movement patterns and strength, promote balance, and increase limb responsiveness.
Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation
This therapy helps people with cardiopulmonary conditions and people who have undergone surgical procedures. This treatment procedure helps people with these conditions to increase muscular and cardiopulmonary endurance and stamina.
Wound Care Therapy
This treatment helps quick recovery by improving blood and oxygen circulation in the body. Types of wound care therapy include e-stim, compression, manual, and wound care.
Vestibular therapy helps to treat inner ear problems. Under vestibular treatment, different therapies can help with vestibular conditions, helping patients regain their coordination and balance.
Decongestive therapy helps with conditions that involve fluid accumulation. This therapy helps treat conditions like draining accumulated fluid in patients with lymphedema and other related conditions.
Pelvic Floor Rehabilitation
This therapy helps to treat conditions that affect the pelvic floor. These conditions include fecal or urinary incontinence, pelvic pain, and other pelvic-related conditions.
Benefits of Physical Therapy
Physical therapy holds many benefits for the patient, whether administered to a sick or a relatively healthy person. These include;
- It Helps Reduce and Eliminate Pain: Physical therapy helps reduce pain and restore muscle and joint function. Physical therapy includes ultrasound, taping, or electrical stimulation to help prevent pain and recover quickly.
- Improve Mobility: Physical therapy helps improve balance, especially for those with trouble standing, walking, or moving. Strengthening and stretching exercises can help improve and restore mobility, especially in people that use crutches, cane, or other assistive devices.
- Recover from a Stroke: A stroke patient loses some functional abilities and movements. What physical therapy does is that it helps to strengthen the weakened parts of the body and improve balance. Physical therapy helps stroke patients be more independent and helps to reduce the burden placed on caregivers regarding dressing, bathing, toileting, and other day-to-day functioning.
- Recover from and Prevent a Sports Injury: Physical therapy helps bodybuilders and athletes prevent injury during exercise and recover quickly from sports injuries like stress fractures.
- Manage age-related issues like arthritis, joint displacement, osteoporosis, and other conditions. Physical therapy helps aged people manage and recover from age-related illnesses, helping to improve their overall health.
- Manage Women’s Health and Other Conditions: Women undergo different body changes from pre-menstrual to menopause. These changes affect their health, which will need specific care and health concerns like post-partum care, pregnancy care, etc. Physical therapy helps women manage and recover from bowel and urinary incontinence, constipation, breast cancer, lymphedema, pelvic pain, and fibromyalgia.
Physical Therapy and Therapeutic Exercise
Physical therapists strategically design specific exercises to help patients relieve pain, restore mobility and flexibility, and improve strength. These exercises are known as therapeutic and core components of most patients’ physical therapy sessions.
Therapeutic exercises may also be described as movements prescribed to restore muscular and skeletal function, correct various functional and operational deformities and improve people’s overall well-being. Administering these exercises and managing patients within the framework of these physical activities are core skills required of physical therapists.
In physical therapy, there are different types of therapeutic exercises that the therapist may administer. These exercises broadly fall into four groups, including;
- Balance and coordination exercises aimed at improving an individuals movement coordination and fine-tuning movements
- Endurance exercises help patients achieve longer endurance by training large muscle groups intensely.
- Flexibility workouts that focus on improving range of motion and reflexes through stretches
- Strengthening exercises with less intensity and fewer reps help improve strength and stamina and build muscles.
A physical therapist can combine these therapeutic exercises with other physical therapy techniques to help increase treatment effectiveness and improve patient health conditions.
Physical therapy is a core component of recovery programs from many ailments and is also highly recommended to aid healing from other conditions. Physical therapy is beneficial to a wide range of people for a wide range of conditions. Athletes and bodybuilders can benefit immensely from physical therapy as it helps them recover and regain functionality following injuries like tendinitis or dislocations.
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