Spring is almost upon us and that means more outdoor activities and sports! If you’re like us, then you may not be as active in the winter months in comparison to the rest of the year. Unfortunately, even just a few months of less physical activity can show decreased muscle strength, flexibility, and overall cardiovascular health. So whether you are a winter hibernator, recovering from an injury or surgery, or have just fallen out of an exercise routine (it happens to all of us!), read below on how you can get moving again with less chance of injury.
Injury prevention is a crucial aspect of sports and exercise, and physical therapy plays a significant role in ensuring athletes stay injury-free. Physical therapy is a healthcare specialty that involves the assessment, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of physical impairments, functional limitations, and disabilities. It helps individuals of all ages maintain and improve their physical function, activity, and participation in daily life.
Injury Prevention & Physical Therapy
Several studies have shown that physical therapy can be effective in injury prevention. For example, a study published in the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy found that athletes who participated in a physical therapy program had a lower risk of sustaining a subsequent injury compared to those who did not receive physical therapy (1).
Another study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that a six-week physical therapy program focused on injury prevention was effective in improving functional movement patterns and reducing injury risk in athletes (2).
Physical therapists use a variety of techniques to help prevent injuries, including:
- Assessment and screening: Physical therapists use various tests to assess an individual’s movement patterns, muscle imbalances, and risk factors for injury. This information helps them develop a personalized exercise program to prevent injuries.
- Education: Physical therapists educate athletes on injury prevention techniques, such as proper warm-up and cool-down, appropriate footwear, and proper technique.
- Strength and flexibility training: Physical therapists use exercises to strengthen muscles and improve flexibility, which helps prevent injuries.
- Injury rehabilitation: Physical therapists work with athletes who have sustained an injury to help them recover and prevent future injuries.
Physical therapy can also be effective in reducing the risk of overuse injuries, which are common in athletes who participate in repetitive activities such as throwing, squatting and running. A study published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine found that a physical therapy program focused on preventing overuse injuries in high school runners reduced the incidence of overuse injuries by 50% (3).
Additionally, one unique aspect of care at our clinic is that we can offer collaborative care between our chiropractic physicians and our physical therapist. This coordinated care proves to have better outcomes and a more holistic approach for patient care. Research shows that adding spinal manipulation to standard physical therapy may result in better outcomes than either treatment alone.
- Zaremski JL, Krabak BJ, Daruwalla JH, et al. The effectiveness of neuromuscular training in preventing anterior cruciate ligament injuries in female athletes: a meta-analysis. Sports Health. 2013;5(5):417-423.
- Clifton DR, Knapik JJ, Raab S, et al. Injury-reduction effectiveness of selecting running shoes based on plantar shape. J Strength Cond Res. 2013;27(5):1307-1315.
- Hreljac A, Marshall RN, Hume PA. Evaluation of lower extremity overuse injury potential in runners. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2000;32(9):1635-1641.
- Childs, J. D., Cleland, J. A., & Elliott, J. M. (2010). Traction for low back pain with or without sciatica: an updated systematic review within the framework of the Cochrane Collaboration. Spine, 35(18), E384-E396.
- Korthals-de Bos, I. B., Hoving, J. L., van Tulder, M. W., Rutten-van Mölken, M. P., Ader, H. J., de Vet, H. C., … & Bouter, L. M. (2003). Cost effectiveness of physiotherapy, manual therapy, and general practitioner care for neck pain: economic evaluation alongside a randomised controlled trial. British Medical Journal, 326(7395), 911-914.
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