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Physical Therapy

 

Physical therapy can be many things- a profession, an action, a place, as well as a process. Having spent the better part of 30 years in pursuit of the profession (as well as in practice of the process), I have come to a simple conclusion what physical therapy represents:

MAXIMIZING MOBILITY, STRENGTH, AND ENDURANCE

IN PEOPLE OF ALL AGES AND ABILITIES
FOR ACTIVITIES OF THEIR CHOOSING

 

Mobility, strength and endurance are the “primary colors” of function that all other physiological and biomechanical functions flow from. Balance, agility, and proprioception flow from the basic function and proper integration of strength, mobility and endurance, just as the colors red and yellow make orange.

Great physical therapists act as artists with a palate that starts with the “colors” (strength, mobility and endurance) masterfully mixing them until a new shade is achieved (improved function) on the canvas that is the patient.

Physical therapy intersects with strength and conditioning similarly to the way the Olympic rings overlap-each ring exists independently, but shares contact with the others, either primarily or secondarily.

A practical example is laid out here: an underactive gluteal muscle contributes to anterior hip pain and limits activity tolerance in an athlete. The underactive gluteal (and associated limitations in hip mobility, core stability and pain) are addressed in physical therapy treatment and the muscle gains contractility as a result. This improved contractility allows better function with active open chain hip extension, which in turn allows improved tolerance and performance with closed chain bridge activity. Bridging can now be progressed from bilateral to unilateral and used appropriately in a dynamic warm up in preparation for weight training, sprinting, or jumping-which in turn allows the gluteals to function properly in the kinetic chain as part of the task. As glute function improves, this decreases the chance for aberrant neuromuscular compensations to occur proximal and distal to the hip. Performance improves, while the chance for further injury decreases.

When do we get to the point of an underactive gluteal muscle to improved physical performance? It happens in logical, progressive fashion with good exercise and mobility decisions from the time of injury through the rehabilitation process, progressing to return of activity with a person performing functional tasks at a higher, more optimal level. Each proper step in treatment, including manual therapy through mobility and strength training leads to the other steps proving successful, seamlessly building a lineage from impaired function through advanced, competent achievement.

Hand in glove programming that dovetails from the time of injury ending with optimal execution of life’s activities is what true physical therapy is, and how I practice it.

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