Physical therapy is a broad-based field that encompasses the prevention, treatment, and maintenance of both short-term injuries and long-term chronic physical disabilities. Physical therapists are experts in anatomy and kinesiology, the science of movement. They have a deeply nuanced understanding of the ways in which muscles, ligaments, joints, and tendons work together to create movement.
Physical therapists also understand the ways in which targeted movement can help people recover from even seemingly unrelated conditions such as heart attacks and vertigo. Therefore, it is important to let your physical therapist know about any symptom that is troubling you.
Physical Therapy Exercises
Physical therapy uses innumerable specific exercises, alongside other treatments such as heat, ice, and electrical stimulation, to meet each patient’s specific needs. Yet all physical therapy exercises fall into one of three main types:
Stretching: When a part of the body is damaged or in pain, the muscles around it automatically tighten up in an attempt to protect it. This makes them stiff and inflexible, creating a self-replicating cycle of pain and further tightening. Ligaments and tendons can also stiffen up as the muscles contract, causing further pain. Gently stretching helps to break the cycle by lengthening and relaxing the muscles, tendons, and ligaments, allowing the pain to ease.
Strengthening: Muscles are vital to supporting the entire body. When they become weak or imbalanced, functional movement will suffer, leading to pain and increasing the risk for further injury. Strengthening exercises help the muscles to properly and freely do their job.
Conditioning: Aerobic exercise releases endorphins that minimize pain, while boosting healing throughout the body. Conditioning exercises reduce overall strain on all parts of the body by helping it perform at its best.
Manual therapy, such as joint mobilization and soft tissue mobilization, is also a critical part of many people’s physical therapy plan. It allows us to move your body in specific ways that are not always possible on your own, while providing the power of healing touch.
Reporting Symptoms to Your Physical Therapist
Because each treatment plan is uniquely targeted to your needs, it is vital that you tell your physical therapist about all the symptoms you have, even if they seem unrelated to the condition for which you are seeking therapy. The human body is extraordinarily complex, and all parts of it are interrelated. We can help you best only when we know exactly what you are experiencing.
If any part of your body seems out of whack or like it is functioning at less than 100%, tell your physical therapist. No symptom is too unrelated or too strange for us to take it into account and address it as part of your overall treatment plan. In addition, some symptoms can actually be caused or worsened by specific exercises or manual therapy techniques, so it is important for us to know if we need to change gears.
Ready to Get Started?
If you are ready for the latest physical therapy treatments for your pain or injury, contact Manhattan Physical Therapy and Pain Center today at (212) 213-3480 to learn how we can help.