We see patients every day in our clinics that have lost hope in their bodies ability to move and function very well. And it’s not hard to understand why. Our patients are in pain, they have arthritis, they have had injuries and surgeries. They have seen their doctor who has told them they have this disease, or that problem. They are given drugs and told that they have to take them the rest of their lives. They have consulted Dr. Google on the Internet and learned any number of scary and strange things about their problem.
A sad result of all this negative information fed to people over time is that they stop moving. They stop moving because it hurts to move, and so they don’t’, fearing movement will make things worse. They feel physically defeated and lose hope that they can ever regain any physical measure of their former selves. Sadly, over time they become more sedentary, losing important muscle strength and flexibility and function. Things that used to be easy such as getting out of a chair or going for a walk is now difficult. They don’t improve. Then they rationalize the decline to “just getting old”, which unfortunately only confirms their fears and doubts and perpetuates the problem.
As physical therapists, our message to these patients is that all hope is not lost and that improvement is possible, at any age. In short, we tell our patients to get moving, and believe in your body!
Now I don’t mean to minimize the reality of aging and that our bodies do get injured, diseases happen and things deteriorate over time. There is a natural decline that happens, but the rate of the decline to a large extent is controllable. What I tell my patients, and wish more people knew is that our bodies are amazingly adaptive. They can take some pretty serious hits and still keep going. and physical change and improvement is possible, at any age!
The key is having a positive movement mindset. To encourage this way of thinking I often tell my patients: Movement is medicine! Motion is lotion! Our tissues, however injured can and do heal over time. Just because it hurts to move doesn’t mean you should stop. Hurt does not always equal harm. You may be a little sore but you are safe to do these exercises.
This doesn’t mean you should just run out and join the gym, not yet at least. A good place to start is to see a Physical Therapist. As physical therapists we prescribe exercise, similar to how your doctor prescribes medication. With their professional judgment they prescribe the correct type and amount of medication for your specific need. We prescribe exercise and movement in the same way. Understanding what you need we prescribe the appropriate type and amount of exercise and movement to improve your health. We take seriously our claim that we are movement and exercise experts and have spent years learning so that we can be the number one trusted and recommended health care providers in the medical community for exercise and movement. Try us out! After a successful stint of physical therapy, you very well may be ready for the gym, but start with PT first!
If you find yourself frustrated because of your physical decline. If you are not as active as you would like to be, or if pain or injury or disease is keeping you from living the life you desire. Don’t give up! See an encouraging, patient, understanding physical therapist. We can truly make a difference and help you get moving and believe in your body again!