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Have you ever hurt your foot, to the point where you could not walk, but the X-ray showed no break? If so, you are not alone. At first, you may feel relieved, until weeks later you are still experiencing a lingering pain that will just not go away. Most athletes have experienced a sprain or a fracture throughout their lifetime. The likelihood of a re-injury is very high. This is why it is very important to understand the benefits of physical therapy and how it can enhance an athletes recovery.
In our minds, we tend to think that physical therapy is reserved for big, insurmountable injuries that require months of treatment and rest. However, this is not true. Physical therapy is beneficial for any injury, big or small. It can be the difference between playing the sport you love, or suffering a subsequent, and possibly worse, injury.
In my opinion, it is much better to show a sign of a broken bone, get casted, do physical therapy, rest, and ultimately, return to your favorite sport. It would be worse to show no visible signs of a fracture, play your sport while injured, and then be out for double the time. If athletes continue playing sports when they are in pain, a minor injury can turn into a major injury, in just the blink of an eye.
Physical therapy is the treatment of an injury by physical methods such as massage, heat treatment, and exercise, rather than drugs or surgery. The physical therapist will help the athlete by increasing flexibility, range of motion and strength. The severity of the injury does not matter because physical therapy is helpful to anyone who needs it.
Chris Lybarger, a physical therapist at Velocity, said, “PT focuses on figuring out what caused the injury to begin with, helping the region of the injury heal properly, and building up the strength, stability, and mobility around the area to prevent re-injury as the person returns to their activity or sport.”
You may think, why do I need physical therapy, if I can just see a doctor? Well, a doctor may not be able to tell you the exact problem. While doctors might only be able to recognize if something is broken, physical therapists can do more to help you recover.
Physical therapists ask numerous questions, analyze what hurts, and where it hurts. They also sometimes massage the injury and use special techniques to see what the main problem is.
Remy Abrams (‘21), said, “I had knee problems for as long as I could remember, and I thought physical therapy would just be a waste of time. However, it was ultimately a major assist in improving the pain and enhanced my performance in lacrosse.”
Just like Abrams, physical therapy continues to help lots of athletes get stronger. One of these athletes is Spencer Deabreu (‘22). He continues to work hard at physical therapy, aspiring to be being back on the basketball court soon.
Deabreu said, “Physical therapy is good for me mentally and physically. Mentally, I am locked in with my therapy. I put my heart and soul into treatment because I know it will help me in the long run. Physically, it is very hard on my body, but all my hardwork will be worth it when I am back on the basketball court. I continue to get closer to this goal every day!”
Physical therapy is not a quick process. It takes time, dedication, perseverance, and determination. Not only do you need to go in to train at least once a week, but there are additional exercises athletes must complete during their free time. Depending on the injury, different exercises and tools are given to athletes, so they can complete the exercises at home. There can be as little as three exercises to as much as thirty. It all depends on what the athlete needs to get better. The exercises are very important and necessary for the patients healing process.
Physical therapists are very talented and help get athletes stronger, so they can participate in the sports they love to do.
Deabreu said, “Therapy does help your healing process, but it is just as important to have a talented therapist. Someone who pushes you and has a passion to get their patients back into work.”
If it weren’t for physical therapy, not all athletes would be able to gain back the full strength they originally had, which would be a major set back in their sports.
Lybarger said, “Physical therapy is the key to healthy, happy athletes.