Injuries are part and parcel of an active lifestyle. As much as athletes take all measures to avoid getting hurt, some injury is unavoidable.
Peak performance physical therapy is indispensable as part of the injury recovery process. It is geared towards reducing pain, restoring mobility, regaining function, and improving the quality of life.
How To Choose Your Physical Therapist
In any given state or large city, there will be a number of professionals offering their services. It may be challenging to pick the right therapist for you.
One way of identifying the right care provider is to outline your recovery targets. There will be a physical therapist whose goals align with yours.
The good news is that the American Physical Therapy Association understands these challenges. This organization has written an extensive guide on how to choose a licensed physical therapist.
The services you’ll find offered in peak performance therapy include the following:
- Foot orthotics, usually custom-made
- Aqua therapy
- Dry needling therapy
- Hand therapy
- Functional performance testing
Custom Foot Orthotics
Feet are quite unappreciated hard workers. Most people do not notice how much their feet contribute to their quality of life until there is something wrong with them.
This is where orthotics come in, helping with foot ailments, posture, and balance.
Foot orthotics include a heel or shoe insert prescribed by a doctor to relieve pain that occurs on the soles, legs, back, or neck.
The material that goes into sculpting these inserts is made in the following styles:
Custom foot orthotics can be designed to specifically address your needs.
Types of Foot Orthotics
There are three types of foot orthotics:
- Over the counter orthotics
- Professional customized orthotics
- Kiosk Orthotics
Over the counter orthotics are found readily in stores. The client is free to choose according to their shoe size and type of ailment, such as arch pain.
Kiosk orthotics put in a lot more work to personalize the inserts, despite what their name may imply. This service provider takes a scan of your feet and produces the size and style based on your unique situation.
Kiosk orthotics are sought by people who play a specific game or those who have lower back or heel pain.
Professional customized orthotics is prescribed by a licensed professional after taking a meticulous medical history from the patient.
The assessment parameters include height, weight, pre-existing medical conditions, and degree of activity.
The therapist then makes a diagnosis according to medical history and data collected. Next, your therapist determines the level of flexibility for your foot orthotics. Lastly, you will create a mold of your feet to shape the orthotics.
You can use prescription orthotics to take preventive measures and take care of your feet.
Also known as trigger point dry needling, this is a treatment for stiff muscles and spasm. Stiff muscles are often as a result of injuries.
Muscle tightness causes irritation of the spinal nerves. These inflamed nerves form a spasm on all the muscles that they are connected to. This results in pain and declining mobility in the area.
Small thin needles are stuck into the muscles at the point of injury, creating a localized twitching. The needle sticking action causes the injured muscle to relax. Elasticity returns and the pain symptoms subside.
This is a form of physical therapy that is carried out inside an aquatic environment, with the guidance of a healthcare worker.
It has other names such as:
- Aquatic therapy
- Water therapy
- Pool therapy
- Aquatic rehabilitation
- Therapeutic aquatic exercise
Objectives of Aqua Therapy
Aqua therapy is designed towards achieving the following recovery goals:
- Alleviating stress
- Enhancing relaxation
- Strengthening muscles
- Boosting endurance training
- Enhancing balance and coordination
- Rehabilitating gait and locomotion
- Bolstering aerobic capacity
- Increasing muscle flexibility
Aqua therapy should not be confused with aquatic exercise or fitness. Aqua therapy is a medical specialty involving rehabilitation and physical medicine. In addition, aqua therapy involves a trained medical worker and is insured by several service providers.
On the other hand, aquatic exercise has no mandatory supervision by a trained medical professional. It is often carried out in a group setting of people with various levels of physical fitness.
Hydrotherapy services are commonly offered in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and sports medicine clinics.
Hand therapists evaluate, diagnose, and treat musculoskeletal problems of the hands and upper appendages.
Hand therapists are trained and licensed after gaining sufficient experience in rehabilitating hands.
These professionals will work with patients in non-operative or post-operative treatment. Preventive and conservative hand therapies are also popular techniques.
Functional Performance Testing
Physical therapists working with athletes understand that peak recovery goes beyond rehabilitation.
Physiotherapists must evaluate a player’s readiness to play. From a medical perspective, gaining a full range of motion does not signify that the athlete is ready.
Functional performance testing involves a sequence of exercises ranging from the simplest to the most complex.
Components of Functional Performance Testing
- Range of movement
- Movement patterns
This evaluation is able to determine:
- The safe time frame for an athlete to return to their pre-injury roles. For example, a sports player presenting a torn ACL would be out of action for at least 8 weeks. Healing time is dependent on the nature of injuries.
- The patient’s ability maneuver through three planes of movement. This ability is evaluated through specialized motion testing unique to sports and exercise-related occupations.
For example, some techniques assessed in a one-leg vertical hop test are takeoff and landing.
The physiotherapist evaluates whether:
- You are using one limb or technique more dominantly.
- The position of your femur.
- The landing you make.
Functional testing is the bridge between conventional rehabilitation practices and a complete return to full physical form.
The ultimate goal of peak performance physical therapy is to aid the recovery of an individual to their former fit status. The therapy aims to achieve this within the shortest time frame as safely as possible.
The full recovery package contains no pain or inflammation, normal range of motion, maximum strength, and balance.