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Home / Articles / Arts & Entertainment / Get Out /  Injury-Free Physical Therapist
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Injury-Free Physical Therapist

Why physical therapy might be right for an active life.

By Wina Sturgeon
Posted // December 29,2010 - You probably know you need physical therapy if you’ve ever been seriously injured. A physical therapist (PT) can help restore your range of motion and normal movement if you’ve had a broken bone or any kind of orthopedic surgery. But why should you go for therapy if you haven’t been injured?

Call it a do-over. Amy DeLap (pictured), a physical therapist who works with orthopedic surgeon Eric Heiden at Salt Lake Physical Therapy, says, “Maybe someone has adjusted their movement to compensate for a long-ago ankle sprain or other injury. A PT would evaluate their posture and their gait and any muscle imbalance that may eventually wear out a joint. Those problems can cause bone spurs, even osteoarthritis … More and more, people are going to a PT to have their quality of movement improved.”

DeLap, whose lithe movements reveal her as a former ballerina, suggests visiting a physical therapist for a “checkup” in the same way you would visit a doctor, just to make sure everything is OK.

Patients, especially recreational athletes, often show up for a consultation because they’re in pain and don’t know why. To their dismay, they often learn their discomfort comes from having ignored recommended physical therapy after a long-ago mishap. “People want to believe that their body will heal itself,” DeLap says. “I hear it a lot: ‘I kept thinking it was going to get better, and it didn’t.’ A PT can do manual therapy that the patient can’t do on themselves, like stretching out injured muscles and connective tissue, and mobilizing joints by moving them through their entire range of motion.”

She adds that a major part of PT is education—teaching someone the right way to move. That may be necessary because of “compensation,” or giving one side more work to do after an injury. If it hurts to walk normally because of a deep bruise or joint sprain, it’s normal to shift more of the workload to the uninjured limb. That’s where many athletes make a big mistake: The injury heals, and they don’t take active measures to restore the previous equal balance of the workload. If one limb or one side of the body is doing more work than the other, it creates an ongoing situation, according to DeLap. The body part given more work naturally gets stronger, so it does even more work. The other side gets weaker, so it does less work and continues to get even weaker. Eventually, even the skeleton can adapt as the alignment of the bones adjusts to the pull of the muscle tendons.

A PT will check your movement patterns and give you exercises that teach you to move in a more balanced way. But, when you go for a PT checkup, it’s important to choose the right one for your needs. “If you’re an athlete, you don’t have the same needs as a middle-age person who is having trouble with their balance,” DeLap says. “If you have a problem with one shoulder joint not having the same range of motion as the other shoulder, you need a PT with orthopedic experience.”

A basic PT checkup will usually cost between $100 and $200. Do a little research to find the perfect therapist for your needs. Ask around. Get recommendations from doctors who specialize in the area where you have a problem. Call one of the many professional teams in Utah and ask to speak to the trainer; he or she may be able to suggest a good physical therapist.

In fact, whether or not your doctor or a friend recommends a PT, it still pays to check around before you go in for a checkup. That evaluation, and the recommended therapy that follows, can have you moving around like you once did all those years ago.

 
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REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Posted // December 29,2010 at 12:14

This is a fantastic article, The Therapists at this clinic are top-notch and I would recommend them to anyone.

 

Posted // January 4,2011 at 09:12 - So, if I submit to "physical therapy", my body will run forever? That seems pretty plausible. No thanks, man. I won't take physical therapy for no reason any more than I'll take lithium for no reason. But I'm sure you guys can scam enough suckers to make a very profitable business of it.

 

Posted // December 29,2010 at 16:36 - Hayduke, Take it for what it's worth. If you don't believe me then that's your problem. I can honestly say that I do not work there. Sorry you had a bad experience in the past. I hope that in the years to come that your spinal alignment doesn't get all jacked up and you end up needing a surgeon instead of a Physical Therapist. But hey, That's your choice. Your body is like a car, Do the regular maintenance and it will run forever, don't and you will have a crapper teh rest of your life. Happy New Years!

 

Posted // December 29,2010 at 15:03 - And of course you don't work there or anything, Mr. Trustworthy. First and last time I had any therapy was for my back. The "therapist" had me do some clam exercises, then put me on a prone squat machine and had me do 15 minutes of light squats. So, I exercised for half an hour under the guidance of a "therapist" and was only charged $150 for the pleasure. I'm eternally grateful.

 

 
 
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