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Family Healthcare: How Physical Therapy Works

Physical therapy is performed by a licensed physical therapist that’s specially trained to help you restore physical strength, normal levels of activity and a full range of motion after you’ve suffered an injury or been in an accident.

Trained therapists work with you directly to teach you different stretches, exercises, and techniques using special equipment. The benefits you’ll gain from physical therapy sessions can’t be attained without working with a licensed therapist.

In this article, we’ll take a look at how physical therapy helps restore your body and mind after suffering from physical injury.


A physical therapist is trained to notice certain deficiencies in a body’s biomechanics. Portland physical therapy professionals are experts in this field.

When you work with a physical therapist, you’ll learn about specific areas of your body that are suffering from weaknesses. You’ll understand more about how working to improve these weaknesses will make your body function on a higher level.

Physical therapists are experts at relieving stress and helping the body function properly without experiencing pain. They also understand the consequences of any surgical procedures you’ve undergone while setting treatment goals that are tailored to improve your overall well-being.

After you’ve had a surgical procedure performed, it’s imperative that the therapy you receive is fully guided by the requirements of that procedure. A trained physical therapist understands the limitations of the body post-surgery and works with you patiently to ensure your final outcome is positive.

Stretching Joints and Muscles

In order to maintain a solid motion range in your joints and the complete flexibility of your muscles, stretching them is absolutely vital. When a person suffers from stiff muscles or joints, even daily activities like reaching overhead or climbing a flight of stairs can be negatively impacted.

Proper stretching of the joints and muscles helps preserve your ability to go about daily activities pain-free.

Additionally, after surgery or a physical injury, your soft tissue contracts and scar tissue can easily form. These areas need to be routinely stretched in order to keep scar tissue from negatively impacting your rehab.

Body-Strengthening Exercises

Muscle function is improved through strategic strengthening exercises. The targets here are to increase your endurance, improve overall strength and improve or maintain your motion range.

Exercises that you perform after an operation always need to be carefully guided by a doctor and your physical therapist. You may be limited to certain lifting restrictions depending on the type of surgery you’ve had.

Common body-strengthening exercises in physical therapy will target your knees, shoulders, core, back, and neck.

Stability and Core-Strengthening

Additional emphasis on core strengthening and stability is one of physical therapy’s most recent innovations. Think of your body’s core like the foundation of your home. If your home was built on an extremely weak foundation, you run the risk of it collapsing.

In the same way, a body that suffers from a core that’s weak is highly susceptible to chronic, acute injuries and overuse syndromes.

Strengthening of the core begins with an emphasis on muscles in your pelvis and back. Programs like pilates are great ways to increase core strength and stability. Many professional athletes perform pilates for this very reason.

Applying Ice and Heat

Ice and heat are used in physical therapy for warming and cooling muscles. The varying temperatures also help stimulate increased blood flow and work to decrease levels of swelling. All of these are key parts of the overall process of therapy.

Physical therapists are trained to know the right times to cool or heat specific injuries.

Ultrasound and Electrical Stimulation

Ultrasound therapy utilizes sound waves of very high frequency (in a range our ears do not detect) to stimulate tissue that is deep within our bodies. In this type of therapy, an ultrasound probe passes over your body, stimulating deep tissues with sound waves.

In electrical stimulation, an electrical current is passed through affected areas. When the nerve conduction is altered within the specific region of the body, it can positively alter muscle contractility.

Electrical stimulation also increases regional blood flow, and patients report a reduction in pain after treatment.

There are your basics about how physical therapy works. Now, if you ever need to undergo physical therapy, you’ll know exactly what to expect.

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