By Erica Marcano, MS ATC, CSCS and Lauren Panariello
It doesn’t take long after sustaining an injury to start asking the question, “When can I get back to my regular life?” The goal of Physical Therapy is always to return patients to their previous level of activity while keeping them pain-free and preventing future injuries. Sometimes, patients even surpass their previous level of activity, as recovery from their injury inspires them to live a healthier lifestyle. Whatever your goals are, your return to activity should be exciting, not stressful!
So how will you know when you’re ready to move on from Physical Therapy to a more strenuous activity such as running, hiking, or playing a sport? A large part of that decision will be made by your doctor and your Physical Therapist. They will periodically re-evaluate your pain level, strength, flexibility, and range of motion. This re-evaluation will probably feel very similar to the initial evaluation you received during your first appointment. Your therapeutic exercise program will continue to evolve and incorporate more and more activities that are specific to your personal goals until you can achieve them outside of the physical therapy clinic.
Some patients are concerned about going back to workouts and sports on their own after treatment. With a patient’s permission, their Physical Therapist can communicate with a coach or personal trainer so that everyone is on the same page when it comes to increasing the intensity of training. For those patients who enjoyed the camaraderie of being around other patients with similar injuries, transitional group fitness programs exist. Many of these programs are run by Strength & Conditioning Specialists who also have a background in Sports Medicine.
No matter your concern— getting back to work, playing sports, training at the gym— quality Physical Therapy care gets you there. And with more options than ever before for patients in transitioning stages of treatment, there’s hope and recovery on the horizon!
For your information about “Getting Back to Activity”, click here.