Physical Therapy

4 Ways Physical Therapy Can Improve Your Performance in Sports

A physical therapist of Asian descent works with her patient

Physical therapy isn't just for injury recovery. Physical therapy is an essential part of any well-designed training program to prevent injuries and optimize your sports performance. 

You don't only visit a dentist when you have a cavity. Regularly scheduled cleanings and checkups will keep your pearly whites in tip-top shape. The same is true for physical therapy. As the old adage goes — an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

"The best time for physical therapy is before an injury ever occurs. Physical therapists will identify and correct weaknesses that may lead to injury or suboptimal performance," says Megan Thacker, PT, DPT, SCS with Riverside Physical Therapy-Regional Medical Center.

Here are four benefits of physical therapy for athletes. 

1. Improve flexibility, strength and balance to avoid injury

The goal of physical therapy is to help relieve pain and improve movement so that you feel good and perform better. 

A physical therapist will use specific screening methods to assess how your body is functioning now and what could use improvement. An assessment will review several factors, including:

  • Joint range of motion
  • Strength of muscle groups
  • Balance
  • Coordination
  • Flexibility
  • Pain

Using this assessment, your therapist will develop a set of exercises designed to improve each area of weakness. With regular progress, your performance and pain levels should improve with time.

"Stiffness, having a limited range of motion or feeling off balance, can lead to injuries, and you can't perform your best if you're sitting on the sidelines. Addressing these weaknesses ahead of time will ensure you're ready to play and ready to win on game day," says Thacker. 

2. Improve your form for greater efficiency on the field 

Whether you are lifting weights, kicking a field goal or running a 5K, form matters. Poor form impacts speed, strength, endurance and power. A physical therapist will assess your form and provide guidance on how to adjust it for maximum efficiency, whatever your sport.  

3. Reduce physiologic and mental stress

Physical therapy isn't just about completing exercises and strengthening muscles. It’s also about releasing muscle tension. Massage therapy is one component of physical therapy that turns on the body's relaxation response to help combat both physical stress from activity and mental stress.

4. Come back after an injury stronger than before

Despite all the necessary precautions and training, injuries may still occur. And when they do, physical therapy is the vehicle to get you back in the game.
Targeted exercise will retrain your body. What's more, your physical therapist will also address factors that contributed to the injury like balance, weakness or overuse to avoid similar injuries in the future.

Physical therapists are your partners in performance

If you're dealing with a nagging pain or itching to improve your 5K time, a physical therapist can provide targeted assessment and guidance to get you to your goal. Call one of our out patient physical therapy offices today.

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