So You Think You're Fit: A Guide To Avoiding Physical Therapy
A physical therapist is a person who spends nearly a decade in school and dedicates their life to helping others heal. They spend countless hours applying their knowledge to the benefit of their patients, but if you ask a physical therapist, they'll usually say they wish their job wasn't necessary. Seeing people in pain day after day isn't a fun time, so here are some tips to help you avoid the need to see your friendly neighborhood physical therapist.
Many sports injuries happen because the participant wasn't physically prepared for the exertion or the exercise was done too quickly or carelessly. Those injuries can take months or years to completely heal and leave you with a need for physical therapy. Instead of jumping into exercise or sports with cold muscles or inadequate knowledge of how a movement is performed, warm up properly and consult an expert on your form. Whether you're weight lifting, running, or playing ball, you need good form and a great warm up before diving in.
Skip the Broken Record
Maybe you've found an exercise you just love. Maybe you've just found the only one you can tolerate. Either way, it's critically important that you avoid repetitive motion injuries by switching up your game. Long distance runners have great cardiovascular health, but if that is the only exercise they perform, they can end up with ankle, knee, or hip injuries from doing the exact same motion day after day. You've no doubt heard of carpal tunnel syndrome, and your feet have a similar tunnel through which nerves run called the tarsal tunnel. If it becomes narrowed, you're not going to like how your foot feels.
Don't Skip Weight Training
Many people trying to lose weight for health reasons will skip weight training in favor of cardio, because cardio burns far more calories per minute. This is a mistake. Building up your muscles through full-motion, weight-bearing exercise is a key way to protect your joints from damage. Strong muscles support your joints and movements better, preventing hyper-extension, sprains, and those nasty repetitive motion injuries discussed above.
There are no guarantees in life, and it's possible for you to do everything right and still wind up in physical therapy, but taking the steps to prevent such an outcome is worth your while. Next time you're about to hit the gym, the court, or the field, make sure you've done everything you can to protect yourself.