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Why All Seniors Should Have a Physical Therapist on Speed Dial

Did you know that having a physical therapist on speed dial can help you live longer and feel better as you age? As one of the best-kept secrets for boosting your daily life, physical therapists promote maximum movement, pain reduction, function restoration, and disability prevention. According to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), physical therapists “are movement experts who optimize quality of life through prescribed exercise, hands-on care, and patient education.” 

You may be thinking how odd it would feel to book a regular physical therapy appointment, as you would a family doctor, hair stylist, massage, or HVAC appointment, especially if you aren’t currently experiencing body pain or haven’t had surgery recently. However, seeing a trusted physical therapist is a necessity and should be a part of your lifestyle, as it helps you to function from day to day and feel your absolute best.

If living a functional life and understanding how your body works is high on your list of priorities, here are the top four reasons why you keep your physical therapist on speed dial:

You Want to Improve Your Quality of Life

If you’re like thousands of other seniors, you know that being able to pursue a physically active lifestyle is priceless. Physical therapists help you improve and/or maintain the energy, strength, and mobility you need to do all of the things you love, like traveling the world, sitting to play cards, reading for hours, taking your favorite fitness class, or playing with your grandchildren. Calling for an evaluation or immediate help doesn’t just have to come after surgery or a serious injury – you can see a physical therapist at the first sign of a problem, such as if you’re feeling joint pain that has lasted more than two weeks or is infrequent but recurrent and limits your daily activity, or to prevent unwanted problems, like back pain or surgery (see below).

You Want to Prevent Pain and Avoid Injury

The majority of senior preventative care patients are searching for useful methods to keep their bodies operating properly in an effort to avoid unwanted injury. Aging causes your body to naturally change over time, which means you may start to experience weakened muscles, stiff joints, and excess body fat in ways you’ve never before experienced. It is important not to ignore these signs, as they can affect your movement and balance and cause permanent damage, making it challenging to get around and increasing the likelihood of falls. If you’ve been dealing with pain from a pre-existing injury even decades later, your physical therapist can help to restore proper movement and alignment to avoid future injury and even dreaded surgery. 

You Want to Avoid Surgery or Have the Best Outcome After Surgery

You can easily avoid injections and surgeries if you learn how to move the painful joint or spine with a conservative treatment under the supervision of a physical therapist. Many aging adults mistakenly believe that they have to wait until after surgery to see a physical therapist, but surgeries are often the last resort. What is often the best and highly suggested route? Try physical therapy first, as the injury may heal on its own. If you have to have surgery due to an injury that physical therapy can’t remedy, still consider pre-hab, an exercise therapy program you can start at a minimum of six weeks prior to surgery that works to boost stability and strengthen vulnerable joints and muscles. The benefits of prehab show in just 24 hours after surgery and help patients get on their feet sooner and recover faster.

You Want to Amp Up Your Overall Wellness Regimen

On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your wellness as you’ve gotten older? Whether you are living a sedentary lifestyle (someone who sits at a desk all day and gets limited exercise) or a highly active lifestyle (someone who works out vigorously 5-6 times a week), awareness of how your body moves is key. Your symptoms will not always be pain – both a sedentary lifestyle and an active lifestyle can result in stiffness, muscle soreness, and a limited range of motion. If you’ve been overlooking the feeling that something is “off,” you should see a physical therapist to evaluate what you are experiencing and discuss options to get some relief.

We hope that you are now going to consider adding a physical therapist to your speed dial because just like eating and breathing, exercise is essential to feel your best! With just a few easy yet impactful exercises, your physical therapist can customize a fitness plan that gets you on track to reach your health goals. Remember, consistency is key as you age – make sure you see your physical therapist on a regular basis to adjust your fitness plan accordingly.

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