Some people use physiotherapy as preventive care. Here’s why, and if it’s worth it.
There’s a good chance you’ve never thought about visiting a physiotherapist unless you had to. Most people don’t have physiotherapy on their list of yearly check-ups to schedule. Some physiotherapists, though, actually have a roster of clients who come in when they’re not injured. Instead, they treat physiotherapy as a form of preventive medicine.
Physiotherapy is classically used to help diagnose and treat movement-related problems to improve physical function.
Physiotherapists often work with people who are healing from an injury to help them restore proper movement patterns in the body and avoid future injury. They do this by teaching them how to do exercises that will strengthen important muscles, and work on improving mobility and alignment required for optimal physical function.
Everyone from an orthopedic surgeon to a cardiovascular surgeon may refer patients to a physiotherapist, who will give them a full analysis and work with other health care providers to tailor exercises to their needs.
Seeing a physiotherapist when you feel perfectly fine can be beneficial for some people – especially those who hit the gym hard.
Most preventive patients are looking for ways to keep their bodies functioning properly and avoid injury. Think: someone who spends all week sitting at a desk, and then hits group fitness classes or the CrossFit box hard on the weekends. Often when physiotherapists meet with these clients, they’ll do manual work – like soft tissue massage – and then give them an exercise program so they can keep working on any alignment, mobility, or strength issues at home.
Often, what starts as a preventive appointment often reveals some sort of underlying dysfunction, like a muscle imbalance, extreme tightness, or compromised range of motion. So it’s very important that it’s addressed early.
If you’re someone who works out hard a few days a week, you may have gotten used to pushing past little tweaks and pains that could become injuries. Getting an evaluation can expose things. Something might not be a problem now but depending on how it’s presenting, it may pay to start working on it before it becomes an issue. Think of it as prehab for your workouts and bootcamp classes.
There’s no doubt that preventive physiotherapy isn’t attainable for everyone, as seeing a physiotherapist once a week or month isn’t affordable or reasonable for many people to do.
It’s also true that getting injured isn’t cheap (or fun) so whether it’s in a physiotherapist’s office or not, learning how to approach new forms of physical activity in a way that’s safe and appropriate for you is really important. And remember to always listen to your body. If something hurts, stop doing it. If you think you injured yourself, see your doctor or a physiotherapist to address it before it gets worse. You only get one body, so it’s always worth giving it the TLC it deserves.