By Dr. Mary Nole, Wellness Director, Saint Simeon’s

Unfortunately at one time or another, many of us will end up in a physical therapist’s office. This is “unfortunate” because if you are visiting one, it is generally due to an injury of some kind, or a physical ailment resulting from an illness. To that point, a prescription from your doctor is required in order to see a physical therapist.

Even though many people consider their visits to a physical therapist to be painful and challenging, these trained professionals do an excellent job getting people back on their feet (literally), out of pain, and back to their normal routine. However, a physical therapist cannot continue seeing you for the rest of your life. So what is one to do after your time at the physical therapist is over?

While physical therapy is an excellent start to physical healing, it does not necessarily cure you forever. Many people make the mistake of becoming inactive after they’ve completed physical therapy.

Musculoskeletal ailments often recur – as opposed to a cold or other flu that runs its course and is over. For instance, if you have sustained an injury, certain body parts may be weakened so they are more susceptible to future injuries. Also, chronic illnesses (those that do not get cured but must be managed) are often accompanied by changes in physical function such as pain, loss of strength or decreased range of motion. Not to mention the fact that simply aging causes many of these same changes in our bodies!

Usually, your physical therapist will tell you to “keep exercising.” You may be able to continue the regimen by yourself, or you may want to find an after-care provider: someone who can help guide and supervise your continued activity. It is important to become involved in a regular exercise program that is appropriate for you: whether through walking, water aerobics, Tai Chi, yoga, strength training or a myriad of other activities. Moving is an essential part of your physical health. Once a physical therapist has helped correct/strengthen/heal your body, you must commit to sustaining your gains through an exercise routine that’s right for you.

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