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Why Physical Therapy Is Your Secret Weapon for Healthy Aging

Medical advances have added years to our collective life expectancy by wiping out early deaths from infections and many diseases. But even with the advent of open-heart surgery, chemotherapy, antibiotics, and other life-prolonging treatments, your bones, muscles, tendons, and joints still deteriorate as you age. 

When your muscles are weak from age-related sarcopenia and your bones are porous from age-related osteoporosis, even a fall could be deadly. A weak musculoskeletal system also increases your risk of developing serious health issues. 

Although age-related deterioration was once believed to be inevitable, that’s not the case. Physical rehabilitation can restore or increase strength, range of motion, flexibility, coordination, and endurance. 

Tony Zemlinsky, DC, (aka Dr. Z) — a sports medicine specialist and founder of Active Rehab Clinics — put together this list of the top five ways that using physical rehabilitation as preventive medicine can redefine aging. 

Relieves pain

Much of the pain and stiffness associated with older age is caused by a combination of muscle weakness, inactivity, and injury. Through targeted physical rehabilitation exercises, you can increase your strength, flexibility, and range of motion. 

Stronger muscles and a stronger core relieve pressure on your joints and support your spine, which in turn helps reduce pain. With less pain, you can remain active and move more. 

Gets you going

An object in motion tends to stay in motion, and that law of physics applies to your body, too. When you strengthen and stretch your body through physical therapy (PT) and rehabilitation, it’s easier to move. And the easier it is to move your body, the more likely you are to move it.

The United States Department of Health & Human Services recommends getting at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity and two sessions of muscle-strengthening exercises a week. While that may sound like a lot, the stakes are high and the gains substantial. Exercise reduces your risk of developing a host of health issues such as:

It’s hard to get the recommended amount of physical activity if you’re weak, stiff, or in pain. Physical rehabilitation ensures that you’re strong enough for exercise. As a bonus, PT counts toward your weekly exercise. 

“Oils” your joints

About 54 million Americans experience some form of arthritis, or joint pain. Common arthritis symptoms include joints that are:

During your PT sessions, you learn to slowly warm up your joints so that they release a lubricant called synovial fluid. Synovial fluid then makes it easier to move your joints without pain. 

Accelerates recovery

If you’re scheduled for surgery, getting PT beforehand can help you go into the operation stronger, which helps you recover more quickly. Using preventive PT can prevent blood clots, improve joint function, and increase both muscle strength and flexibility. 

You should also continue your PT after surgery. Physical rehabilitation helps you reduce pain and accelerates healing so you can get back to your normal routine at home and work.

Keeps you balanced

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one out of five falls is serious enough to cause fractures or a head injury. In the last 10 years, fall rates in the United States increased by 30%. 

You can improve your balance and therefore reduce your risk of falling with PT. A physical therapist also helps you with exercises to improve coordination and can recommend assistive devices to aid with safer walking.

To find out how a PT program can help you remain active and healthy as you age, reach out to either our Park Ridge, Illinois, or Chicago, Illinois, location nearest you. You can phone us or book online.

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