Whether for the treatment of an injury, to improve your body’s mobility and efficiency for sports, or to combat aging, physical therapy has a lot of significant benefits that can improve an individual’s quality of life. While this treatment is well-known for restoring natural movement after an accident or alleviating pain related to the body’s joints, other additional benefits manifest during treatment.
While these unexpected perks were unintentional, they are certainly welcome and demonstrate why a person may wish to participate in physical therapy occasionally, even when not experiencing pain or seeking treatment for an underlying condition.
While there are many bonus benefits from physical therapy (PT), we will look at 5 that can make a significant difference in a person’s daily life.
What is Physical Therapy?
Before discussing these unexpected benefits, you should understand what physical therapy is and how it works. Generally, physical therapists perform pain management and rehabilitation, providing treatment for those who have experienced an injury or suffer chronic conditions that cause some degree of pain related to joints and muscle movement, making it challenging for the individual to live everyday life.
When meeting with a licensed physical therapist, they will generally ask questions about any ailments you are experiencing, especially those related to flexibility, posture, strength, balance, and range of motion. Once they evaluate your condition, they will work with you to prepare a set of goals and a treatment plan, often related to reducing pain, improving range of motion, or even measures to prevent further or future problems.
While the foundation of nearly all physical therapy involves exercise, the treatment provider may employ other methods depending on the injury or condition in question, ranging from heat or ice application to electrical stimulation or dry needling. The therapist will facilitate preliminary exercises to ensure you are doing the activities correctly and that you do not experience any complications. Still, you can expect to have homework outside of the treatment center to ensure you are making gains and meeting goals.
5 Unexpected Benefits of Physical Therapy
While rehabbing during treatment, physical therapy patients discovered that they were gaining many unexpected benefits that were improving their bodies and health outside of the target area. These surprising benefits are perfect indicators of why you should continue to engage in PT exercises and similar activities even after resolving your original problem.
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1. Mental Wellness
The physical activity associated with PT has several positive effects on the brain. Exercise generally increases serotonin production and endorphins, which can boost your mood and help you combat depression or anxiety. This, in turn, has a cascade effect, making it easier to achieve quality sleep at night and even improving a person’s self-confidence. This brain boost can cause significant improvements in a person’s daily life.
For this reason, it is beneficial to engage in regular exercise, even outside of your treatment plan. Of course, if physical therapy is ongoing, you should consult with your therapist before doing so to ensure that any particular exercises will not pose risks to target areas.
2. Improved Blood Circulation
When participating in treatment that involves stretching muscles, an additional benefit is that these activities increase circulation, improving blood and oxygen flow throughout the body. For organs, this means that they are getting what they need to function at optimal levels, so, for instance, your brain will perform better, and your heart will be healthier.
This enhanced circulation also helps injuries and wounds to heal faster, making it easier to recover. Furthermore, a well-functioning circulatory system will give your skin a healthy flush as the blood flow can deliver the proper amount of nutrients and oxygen where it is needed.
3. Enhance Flexibility and Motion Beyond Original Levels
One of the significant purposes of physical therapy is to restore lost motion or recover from an injury that affects mobility. However, those who actively participate in the treatment plan may discover that they excel beyond their original range of motion before the initial symptoms. As with any exercise, the more you work the muscles, the stronger they will become, and it is possible to make cumulative gains through the course of PT.
This is especially true for those who are elderly, often live a sedentary life, or continue to exercise beyond the treatment period. PT can help develop a routine, which makes it easier for patients to get into the habit of healthy physical activity. Those who see and appreciate the fruits of their labor are often encouraged to go above and beyond, improving posture, flexibility, strength, balance, and other enhancements.
4. Teaches Proper Techniques
Exercises done improperly can prove less effective or even result in injury. One unheralded benefit to working with a physical therapist is that you can learn how to do exercises properly with an expert who can monitor and adjust as necessary to ensure that you will improve your body rather than cause additional harm.
It can be challenging for some people to follow a visual guide or emulate an exercise in a video. Having someone to help tweak posture and form can mean additional gains, preventing further injuries or making it easier to perform daily activities.
5. Injury Prevention
Speaking of prevention, many athletes and others who participate in physical activity regularly sometimes participate in physical therapy for that reason alone. Working different muscle groups regularly with a professional is an excellent way to maintain strong muscles and joints so that they can endure greater rigor.
Working through recommended exercises will keep your body strong and limit opportunities for an injury that can lead to painful rehabilitation to restore the body. Some people even undergo “prehabbing” before scheduled surgery to strengthen the body and target areas beforehand so that the rehabilitation process will be faster and less painful once the surgery is complete.
The Bottom Line
Physical therapy has a multitude of benefits for those suffering from chronic pain and muscle or joint injuries. During rehab and recovery, physical therapy can be a very important aspect. However, some unexpected benefits can increase mental wellness, restore and improve blood circulation, and enhance the body to the point that it may work better than before the injury. With prevention in mind, physical therapy can be a great idea even if you are not currently experiencing an injury or discomfort.
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