Physical therapy is designed to push your physical limits to help you make the biggest functional gains, which means your session isn’t going to be a walk in the park! Our therapists are going to get the most out of your body while also ensuring that the exercise doesn’t put you at risk for additional injury. Don’t be surprised if you work up a sweat during your workout or if you feel tired after a good PT session.
Because physical therapy sessions can sometimes be exhausting, it’s important that you learn how to take care of your body and help it recover following PT. In today’s blog, we share some tips for how to take care of yourself following an intense physical therapy session.
Helping Your Body Recover After Physical Therapy
Recovering after physical therapy is very similar to recovery after an exhausting workout, but you’ll want to pay a little more attention to the specific area of your body that you’re rehabbing or working to strengthen. Some ways to help your body recover after physical therapy include:
- Hydrate – Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated after a workout. Staying hydrated helps to improve circulation and ensure that healthy blood can flow to and from important areas. On the flip side, being dehydrated means that muscles won’t be functioning optimally, which can put them at risk for strain or spasm. Even if it doesn’t feel like you lost a lot of fluids during your session, make it a point to drink 16 to 24 ounces of water within the first hour of completing your exercises.
- Stretch – Your body will likely experience some soreness as muscles are tested like they haven’t been in the past. This soreness is a good thing and showcases that your exercises are having the intended effect, but soreness is a bit uncomfortable. You can help to alleviate some of this soreness by stretching a couple times throughout the day both before and after your PT session. Stretching also helps avoid muscle stiffness, which is more likely after an intense physical therapy workout.
- Ice – If you’re experiencing any swelling or fluid retention in specific areas after your therapy session, ice the area for 10-15 minutes a couple times throughout the day. Icing helps to calm inflammation that can be hindering fluid drainage out of an area. It’s not uncommon for an injured or surgically repaired area to develop some mild inflammation after physical therapy, but you can fight back with the help of an icing routine.
- Mind Your Diet – Your body will recover better if it is getting a healthy variety of vitamins and nutrients from your diet, so be mindful of your food choices as you progress through your PT program. Strive to get your daily vitamins and minerals from your foods, and avoid fatty foods that could lead to weight gain and in turn put more stress on your recovering body.
- Consider Journaling – Journaling can be a great way to optimize your PT program. Writing down what you’re experiencing between sessions can help your therapist better understand how your body is progressing so that they can adjust your routine as needed. We can push you harder and try to get more functional improvement, or we can back off a bit if you’re experiencing some less desirable symptoms. Journaling makes it easier to document your symptoms and share them with your care provider.
If you do all of these things, we’re confident that your body will respond well to the physical challenges of therapy. If you want to connect with a physical therapy team who will do everything they can to help you make the fullest recovery following your surgery or injury, reach out to the team at OrthoRehab Specialists today.