Our body craves activity because it helps to condition our muscles and ensure they are prepared for the stress we put them through. When we live a sedentary lifestyle or are forced to be inactive for an extended period, our muscles can decondition, meaning they become weaker as a result of inactivity.
Fortunately, deconditioning is a reversible process, and physical therapy is one of the best ways to combat it. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at how a physical therapist can help improve your muscle and aerobic conditioning.
Treating Muscle Deconditioning
Our muscles can suffer from deconditioning for a number of different reasons. Becoming more sedentary is a common issue, but we also help patients who may be prone to deconditioning for two other reasons – injury and surgery.
If you are injured or have recently undergone a surgical operation, you may be advised to avoid physical activity with a certain part of your body for an extended period of time as healing runs its course. You may want to get back out on the soccer field or to your construction job, but you are physically limited while healing occurs. You need to avoid strenuous activity in order to avoid overloading an area that has been weakened by an injury or surgery, but this inactivity can also lead to muscle deconditioning, and that’s where a physical therapist can help.
Even when you’re injured or recovering from surgery, you can work to condition your muscles and help prepare them for the stress you’ll eventually throw at them once healing has run its course, you just have to be smart about how you approach this activity. Full-weight bearing or load bearing activities like running or jumping may be too much for your body to handle while it’s working to heal. Instead, a physical therapist can guide you through some targeted exercises and gentle stretching routines to help get these muscle groups accustomed to movement to improve their conditioning.
It’s also important that you slowly increase the stress you put on these muscles to help them return to pre-injury levels of fitness. A physical therapist can help chart a course for recovery so that you continue to make progress instead of threatening the safety of your recovery by doing too much or plateauing too early because you stopped effectively challenging these muscles.
Another key area that can’t be overlooked when working to return to pre-injury levels of fitness is your aerobic conditioning. The muscles and ligaments in your knee may be stronger after rehab for a meniscus tear, but if you haven’t played in a soccer game or gone for a run in months because of the injury or surgery, your aerobic conditioning will have decreased. You’ll need to build up your lung capacity and endurance in order to regain some long-term aerobic conditioning, and again your physical therapist can help with this aspect.
Returning to sports after an injury isn’t just about focusing on the area that was injured, because a number of other systems will have deconditioned when you were away from sport. We can help you overcome the physical and aerobic deconditioning you’ll experience and help you return to activity at pre-injury levels of fitness with a reduced likelihood of reinjury. Don’t just try to jump back into full activity without accounting for muscular and aerobic deconditioning, otherwise you’ll be at risk of suffering another setback.
For more information on how we work to help strengthen muscles and prepare your lungs for activity after an extended period of inactivity, or to set up a session with one of our skilled physical therapists, reach out to the team at OrthoRehab Specialists today.