Family practitioner, dentist, optometrist. What do each of these doctors generally have in
common? They are practitioners who you may see regularly throughout the year or annually for check-ups. These visits are beneficial as they allow for your doctor to evaluate if you are staying healthy, address any new issues, or to make changes in prescriptions. Now, if only there was a doctor you could see periodically who could assess your movement and strength to help you stay out of pain and perform better with sports and daily activities.
Good news, one already exists!
Most people seek the care of a physical therapist (PT) when they are in pain, or when their doctor prescribes physical therapy. That does not necessarily have to be the case. Thankfully, with legislature changes over recent years, physical therapists have been granted direct access. This means, depending on your insurance carrier, you do not need a referral to see a PT. So, this allows you to seek the guidance of a PT to address goals such as improving your ability to exercise safely, reducing your injury risk, optimizing movement patterns and ensuring correct body mechanics during daily activities.
Physical therapists are considered the musculoskeletal experts. We are trained in analyzing movement and performing hands-on assessments to determine how different areas of the body interact with each other. This allows us to diagnose the problem and address all possible contributing factors driving your symptoms. This analysis does not have to be limited to individuals who are experiencing pain. Through movement screens and comprehensive examinations, PTs can help individuals prevent injury as well. For example, during a movement screen, your PT may discover that you have mobility deficits or poor mechanics with a regularly performed task. Depending on what activity you may currently do, or want to start doing, this could be a risk factor for potential injury. Your PT can recognize this, treat the problem, and educate you in exercises and optimal movements to address these impairments. Hence, the issue is fully addressed before it snowballs into a larger problem that requires further medical intervention or surgery. Overall, this means decreased risk of injury, improved movement, and decreased potential medical costs.
As physical therapists, our vision is to help optimize the quality of life of our patients through restoring healthy movement. Before that nagging joint pain or muscle ache becomes a larger problem, or before you embark on a new exercise program, check in with your PT. This way we can see how your body is moving and handling your daily demands. We can then make recommendations to keep you moving pain-free and excelling in your wellness endeavors!