You might think I’m crazy, but physical therapy is not just for those in rehabilitation and as a matter of fact, everybody should be doing it as part of their workouts. Look at it like this: The goals of physical therapy are to stabilize an injury, restore and increase range of motion, instill balance throughout the body, and strengthen muscles and other soft tissue; all so the body can be strong and function without inhibited movement. Minus the aesthetic benefits, aren’t the goals of traditional exercise the same as those of physical therapy ?
Many people who exercise have imbalances such as being stronger on one side of their bodies than the other, being inflexible, having stiff joints with little range of motion, and having joint pain from overcompensation within their bodies. Although many of these imbalances are self imposed by the way many people exercise, incorporating PT exercises within your workout will help correct these imbalances and help rid your body of undue torque and strain.
Here are three components of physical therapy you need to add to your workout:
· Stretching – I’m not talking about reaching your arms over your head and twisting at your trunk; I’m talking about spending 10 minutes after every workout stretching all muscles worked. In addition, you should have at least 3-4 days a week where you spend 15-20 minutes stretching all muscles. It’s also a good idea to warm up before you stretch.
· Perform Unilateral Exercises Every Other Week – Unilateral exercises are done by doing an exercise one arm or one leg at a time. For example: Instead of doing barbell bench press, do dumbbell bench press but do all one side first and then do the other side. Be sure to alternate which arm or leg with which you start the set. Unilateral exercises will help you correct strength imbalances within your body and add joint strength.
· Incorporate Balancing Exercises – For example: Picture yourself standing up holding a light dumbbell in one hand up by your shoulder like you were going to do a shoulder press. Press the dumbbell overhead with one arm and at the same time, raise one knee up to about waist high, pause, and return both your arm and leg to their starting positions at the same time. You would then repeat with the other side. There are all kinds of balancing exercises you can use for each body part; you just have to go slow and do them right.
Physical therapy is not on anyone’s lists of places where they want to end up, but if you want to get the most out of your body and your workout, you have to make PT a part of your exercise routine. Or you can wait until your physical therapist tells you the same thing; if they can fit you in.
Bobby Whisnand “The Exercise Doctor”