October is a month to Keep Moving
Nate Christopher has been a physical therapist in outpatient orthopedics for more than 15 years. He is board certificated as a Orthopaedic Clinical Specialist and a guest lecturer at Southwest Tech. Nate has also been involved in research projects regarding yoga and its impact on balance and fall prevention. He is the certified aquatic therapist at the Mineral Point Therapy Center.
In October we celebrate National Physical Therapy Month. This year, perhaps more than most, we are reminded how important it is to keep moving and how physical therapy can help us stay active.
The COVID-19 pandemic brought an abrupt change to our lifestyles. For many people the change disrupted their exercise and activity routine. As a result, some have noticed unwanted weight gain, increased aches and pains and decreased strength, endurance, and function. Exercise and activity affects our physical strength and endurance. It also impacts overall health with respect to brain function, memory, digestion, cardiovascular health, blood sugar and blood pressure regulation, chronic disease prevention and management, sleep quality, and mental health.
I sometimes joke with patients, “When was the last time that you were watching the news and heard there was a new study showing exercise is bad for you?” We never see this! Physical activity is one of the rare “magic pills” in life that are generally good for all aspects of health. A healthy diet and adequate sleep may also be on that list.
Physical Therapists often encounter frustration in patients. They know they should exercise, but they don’t because of pain caused by injury, arthritis, or other factors. A large part of a Physical Therapist’s job is to find ways to relieve pain, or modify exercise and activity so it can be well tolerated and therapeutic, instead of painful and bothersome. We work to find the right dose and intensity to maximize function and well-being and minimize adverse effects. We also tune into what motivates each individual patient and look for activities they may enjoy.
Exercise requires effort, so it is important to see a return on that investment. If investing time into exercise and activity allows someone to function better in order return to the things that they love doing such as gardening, hiking, playing a sport, going to their kid’s events, for example, then hopefully they will find this to be a worthy return on investment. Since the pandemic, I have changed my practice. In addition to focusing on someone’s knee, hip, or back pain, I am encouraging ongoing activity and exercise after physical therapy to maintain and enhance overall health. This October, as we recognize National Physical Therapy Month, remember to make it a priority to “keep moving.”