When we book in to see a physical therapist, we all know our specific reason why. There is usually something we want to fix – a pain syndrome, a restriction in movement, a stiff back or that nagging chronic headache that just won’t go away.
And there’s nothing wrong with that! But have you ever thought about the many ways you can help relieve the distress of painful symptoms after you leave the treatment room? Or how you can prevent them from recurring?
Well, there are enormous positive effects that ongoing self-maintenance can have if implemented alongside your physical therapy treatments, and I’m going to share my tips with you…
Corrective Exercises & Stretching
This is not a gimmick, if you are advised to complete corrective exercises, you must do this to increase your ability to get better. Corrective exercises are used to strengthen and retrain muscles that are causing imbalance or instability in an area of the body. Listen to your therapist (they’re on your side, I promise) and stick to your treatment plan to get better results.
One of the most important and easiest things that you can do to improve your health is MOVE! Australia’s Physical Activity Guidelines recommends adults are to accumulate 150 to 300 minutes (2½ to 5 hours) of moderate-intensity physical activity or 75 to 150 minutes (1¼ to 2½ hours) of vigorous-intensity physical activity, each week. And to do muscle strength work on at least 2 days per week. It sounds like a lot, but every bit counts, so take the stairs, get off one train stop earlier, and smash out 20 squats after you read this.
We know the saying ‘you are what you eat’? Well, it is mostly true. If we fill our bodies with inflammatory foods, our body will become inflamed. If we skip a meal and don’t replenish our energy stores with nutrient-rich foods, we don’t have energy. Starting to make sense? It is crucial to eat highly nutritious foods that YOU can digest well and help YOU feel the best you can. Supplements are also necessary if you’re not getting enough nutrients from food.
Certain vitamins like Vitamin D12 and C, Calcium aid in muscle recovery, and certain minerals like magnesium and zinc help to relax the muscles and enrich their energy stores. It is recommended you seek assistance from a nutritionist before making any significant changes to your diet.
Not only is it essential following a treatment, hydration is essential on a day-to-day basis to keep you feeling your best. Drinking enough water can help regulate body temperature, assist muscles and joints to work better, keep skin supple, cleanse your body of toxins, and in the longer term, help prevent cardiovascular disease.
We all know that horrible feeling of sleep deprivation – achy joints, feelings of fatigue and fogginess, decreased motivation and energy, and the inability to perform at your best. To allow your body time to naturally heal and replenish its energy stores, it is recommended we get 7-9 hours of sleep EVERY night.
Stress, both mental and physical, can inhibit our body’s natural ability to heal itself. Whether it is a weekly yoga session, a 10-minute daily mindfulness practice, or simply immersing yourself in something creative (cooking, gardening, drawing…), it is essential we find ways to de-stress and unwind daily.
So while seeing your preferred therapist for your tune-up treatment is excellent, it is also important to introduce some positive changes to your lifestyle and everyday routine. Whether it is a focus on getting stronger for better posture, changing your diet to reduce inflammation, or even taking some time for meditation to relieve built-up stress, we can all add a few things here and there to ensure we get the absolute most out of our therapeutic treatments, and most importantly, keep our bodies and mind feeling good.