Physical therapy helps you to reach peak physical fitness, so it should come as no surprise that PT can be extremely beneficial for athletes who want to improve their performance on the field. But how exactly can athletes benefit from attending physical therapy sessions? We explain a number of different ways athletes can improve their on field performance by participating in a PT program.
Physical Therapy For Athletes
We’ll start with some of the more obvious ways that physical therapy can help an athlete and work our way towards some lesser known benefits.
- Injury Recovery – No athlete wants to be stuck on the sideline while they recover from an injury, but physical therapy can help get you back on the field faster. PT can help you strengthen key muscle groups that are recovering from injury, and the exercise and activity helps to push healthy oxygenated blood to the injured area, which will help speed up recovery. Rest is good for a number of injuries in the short term, but after a while, activity and strength training is actually better than rest, and that’s what physical therapy can provide.
- Surgery Recovery – Along a similar line, physical therapy can help you make the fullest recovery in the event you need to undergo a surgical operation. The surgically addressed structures will be weakened following the operation, and the best way to help them heal and strengthen them to a presurgical state is with an individualized physical therapy plan. Time helps a surgically corrected area heal, but physical therapy helps you return to peak performance.
- Biomechanical Contributors To Injury – A physical therapist can also spot biomechanical issues that may be contributing to your pain or discomfort. Instead of treating the symptoms, they can help to treat the underlying cause of pain and make changes so it no longer causes problems. If a hip problem is putting excess stress on your knee, or your running stride pattern is hurting the spinal discs in your back, your PT can identify and help treat these issues so they don’t linger when you’re playing sports.
- Cross Training Exercises – One of the more common issues we see in some athletes is that they only specialize in one sport, and they dedicate their offseason workout routine to developing those muscles that are needed for their sport. However, if you’re constantly testing specific muscles in games and only focusing on those groups during the offseason, you’re going to have some muscle groups that are very strong and others that are weak. This disparity between the strength of muscle groups can lead to repeated strains or sprains. We work with athletes to develop strength training routines that affect different areas of the body so that muscle groups develop proportionately.
- Injury Prevention – Most people think that physical therapy only helps you heal after your injury, but we can also help to prevent injuries from developing in the first place. Athletes often come to us to ask about weight lifting and strength training routines, and we’re more than happy to provide them with advice. We can tell you how to work certain muscle groups without overloading them or which exercises should and shouldn’t be included in a wide receiver or point guards workout routine. We’ll help you if you’re injured, but we also like working closely with athletes to help keep them on the field in the first place.
For more tips, or to talk to a physical therapist about any questions you might have, reach out to OrthoRehab Specialists today.
PT of Costa Rican National Soccer Team for 2007 World Cup in Victoria, CAN. Clinical Instructor for University of Minnesota Doctor of Physical Therapy Affiliations