Should I Keep Exercising?
One of the biggest questions I have received from patients in the past few months as a physical therapist is, “Should I just rest and not do anything or should I continue to be active?” This question typically happens after an injury has occurred or there has been pain with a certain movement pattern that has brought a patient into the clinic to receive treatment. This is always a hard question to answer with a short yes or no type answer. I have found it very difficult to give a straightforward answer always to patients. This question has gotten me to think through what our role as physical therapists is regarding educating patients about the importance of movement and maximizing our potential as human beings. I will be answering should I keep exercising?
My treatment methods to help assist patients uses a combination of manual therapy techniques as well as an exercise-based prescription to help patients achieve their goals in improving their functional capabilities. I believe manual therapy is very important to ensure there is harmony in the body’s joints and muscles to allow for proper body mechanics with functional movements such as the squat, lunge, hinge, push, or pull. Once this is achieved, I think it is important to train these movement patterns extensively to allow for the improvement of the ability to safely complete these tasks while having minimal pain levels. Once proper movement is achieved, it is important to train these patterns with both an increase in intensity as well as frequency.
One of the first things I always like to review with patients is we have 4 extremities: 2 arms and 2 legs. When one is injured, it is still important to train the other 3 as much as we can. We need to continue maximizing our activity levels as long as pain levels are below a 4/10. There is a plethora of research studies that have been conducted in regards to pain levels and what these mean with our recovery from injury. Many have concluded as long as pain levels are below a 4/10 with an activity we are not damaging our body or hurting our recovery.
This is also a very important concept to keep in mind when we are performing an activity, to be honest with our body and how we are feeling to ensure we are not pushing through the activity and doing something too hard or painful to slow our recovery. I am writing this blog in early April 2023.
Knowing When To See a PT
Here in WI, the weather is getting nicer, and more people are starting to go outside and either walk or run. I have seen an increase in patients with foot pain related to the increase in running activity. It is still important to maintain activity levels as long as pain levels are at or below a 4/10 and to train up until the point of pain along with the proper rehabilitation program from a physical therapist to continue making progress and improving the current condition.
As patients and physical therapists, if we are working at always maximizing what we can do and focus on this part of recovery rather than dwelling on the negative of what we cannot do, I find this to be a vital key aspect to improving pain in patients and allowing them to enjoy more freedom with their life.
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