Being sidetracked by an injury is a frustrating experience for any runner. One minute they feel as if they are in top physical and mental condition. In the next, searing pain is making it hard to even consider lacing up their running shoes. Fortunately, a few sessions with a physical therapist may be precisely what’s needed to put any training regimen back on track.
While physical therapy does have its share of detractors, many runners who have relied on such treatments for overcoming an injury swear by the results they experienced. After all, a physical therapy program is about much more than simply applying ice and heat. Genuine physical therapy sessions explore why the injury happened and finds ways to correct the deficiency.
As an example, a runner who is dealing with an ankle injury may be able to restore range of motion and run without pain thanks to physical therapy. Perhaps the torn ligaments the runner suffered happened years earlier but it’s still affecting his stride today. His knowledge of the ankle’s vulnerability may have led him to favor the ankle, creating an unbalanced running stride that causes further problems. A qualified physical therapist can prescribe stretching and strengthening exercises that are aimed at addressing the stiffness and soreness that have been plaguing the runner for years. After a few sessions and diligent practice, the runner is able to return to his sport of choice feeling stronger than ever before.
Diligence is in many ways the key to successful physical therapy. A patient may visit the therapist’s office weekly or every other week, but the real work happens in the days between the sessions. It is vital for the runner to stick to therapy exercises in addition to any other workouts that have been approved by their physician or therapist. In order to regularly practice these exercises it may be necessary to invest in some basic equipment like a resistance band or a stability ball. A foam roller is also a sensible investment so that runners can massage achy muscles in between therapy sessions.
Physical therapy can provide a wealth of benefits to injured runners, particularly if treatment is sought in the early stages after pain begins. Regular treatment can restore range of motion, correct strength imbalances and help the runner feel as if they are more in control of their recovery and their overall physical condition. Perhaps best of all, physical therapy may be the perfect alternative to prescription drugs and possible surgery.
With a multi-pronged treatment approach that may include massage, ice and heat application, stretching, strengthening and more, physical therapy can help runners return to their favorite sport in less time than they might have imagined.