Now that spring has arrived, temperatures are starting to rise in many parts of the country. And that means the transition from heating our homes to cooling our homes is right around the corner. No matter what method you use to cool your home during the warm spring and summer months (central air conditioning, window units, or fans and dehumidifiers), each spring you cross your fingers that your approach still works. If not, you might be calling an expert for a tune-up, or in extreme circumstances, you might need a complete overhaul.
Just like an AC system that may have been dormant for many months of the year, a body that hasn’t been physically engaged on a regular basis may have trouble getting started again. And yet, this time of year, the warm temps draw many people to city and suburban streets, tracks and trails, ready to take that first run of the season. A good percentage of these spring runners haven’t kept up their strides throughout the winter. It should come as no surprise that a 4-mile run for a previously inactive person is going to stir up a few aches and pains.
Especially as we age, our ability to move undergoes changes. Whether we’re talking about a college student or a retiree, returning to an activity without proper planning is a recipe for disaster. That’s where physical therapy comes in. Physical therapists are trained to treat injuries and ease pain, but they can also help their patients prevent injuries and safely prepare to participate in new activities.
Think of physical therapists as “movement consultants” who can ensure that your body is physically ready to tackle a new challenge—or resume a favorite leisure activity. Here’s another example to illustrate what we’re talking about: Let’s say that you play in an adult soccer league and you’re preparing to play in your first game of the season in a few weeks. You probably hung up your cleats when the last season ended months ago, but expect to pick up just where you left off. It’s simply too much to ask for your 2019 debut on the field to be on the same level as the last game of the previous season, when you likely had reached peak performance.
This is a good time for your PT to step in and help you shake off the rust. Your physical therapist can customize an exercise plan to help you slowly return to sport and avoid an injury that could sideline you for the whole season. Or like cleaning the filters before firing up your air conditioner for the first time this year, your physical therapist can help ensure that your body is prepared to return to its former activity level following a hiatus.