“Without awareness we go through life blind.” – Anthony DeMello
Our Foothills Sports Medicine Arizona physical therapy clinics are dedicated to providing quality, hands-on care and helping our patients become stronger and healthier in all aspects of their lives. If you think a physical therapist might be able to help you, schedule a free assessment with a Foothills Sports Medicine online here. For more information about physical therapy in Arizona check out our blog.
Physical therapy is all about making the body stronger and healthier, but our PTs understand that patients need support in other areas as well. Aaron Parr, a physical therapist at our Surprise location, explains how understanding your treatment plan and developing a connection between your body, mind, and soul can help you become healthier and happier.
We’ve all been there; a stressful, busy string of weeks with one commitment after another results in early mornings, late nights, and restless sleep as we fret about upcoming deadlines. As the days pass, we become aware of nagging lower back pain, tighter neck muscles, or a sore throat that has returned yet again. This pain interrupts our concentration and adds to the stress we already feel from our all-too-busy schedule!
It’s no surprise that stress in our daily life affects the body. These aches and pains often act as the language of the body, trying to get our attention so we will begin asking questions and recognizing the need to take better care of ourselves. Instead, however, we all too often reach for the quick fix – like pain relief medicine or a glass of wine with dinner – as if that is all that’s needed to cure us and get back on track.
While it is true that an anti-inflammatory now and then may be a good prescription for pain relief, and a glass of wine with dinner can help us unwind, our bodies deserve more than this. Healing is a process that involves every aspect of our being, our body, mind, and soul. The next time you feel that recurring ache or pain, consider the following techniques.
Sit quietly in a chair and pay attention to your body. Pause long enough to become aware of any aches and pains. What stretch or exercise is needed to give that part of your body movement, rest, or relaxation? Make a commitment to your body to dialogue with it daily. The information our body provides whether it is stress, tone, pain, or fatigue should not be met with apprehension but rather a sense of opportunity. Recognizing what our body is telling us, and sharing this information with a physical therapist, can help identify the movement prescription required to improve our quality of life.
Become aware of the thoughts playing inside your head throughout the day, like a tape playing over and over. What statements are you saying to yourself? Most people fill their minds with thoughts of “not enough-ness” or self-critical statements. It is important to resist self-defeating statements because we become that which we focus our thoughts on, for better or for worse. Repeat positive thoughts to yourself about your strengths and talents, until these thoughts truly become how you see yourself. Replace the old, negative tapes with new tapes about your ability to problem-solve, multi-task, and learn from both your successes and mistakes. This simple activity will change your perspective and guide you through life not only in terms of how you think, but what you notice, how you act, and what you say.
The soul also plays a role in the body’s healing power, but can be blocked when one is holding onto resentments or is unwilling to forgive. Drawing on a higher power for strength and guidance has the potential to help one find deeper meaning, which leads to a balanced life. Soul work takes patience and care, but its rewards are well worth the effort!
Take the first step to becoming a well-rounded, healthier, happier person by contacting your local Foothills Sports Medicine AZ Physical Therapy Clinic today!
Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy has a staff of trained specialists who will work with you to create a unique treatment plan for any pain, discomfort or sensitivity you may have. Make an appointment online for a free consultation today! For more information about physical therapy and sports medicine, check out additional blog articles.
Arizona sports medicine expert Aaron Parr has a doctorate in physical therapy and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS). He has worked in both orthopedic medicine and sports rehabilitation, so he knows how frustrating chronic and untreated pain can be for some individuals. In this article, he explains how the nervous system can lead to a patient’s chronic pain, and how physical therapy can help improve or eliminate this problem.
Contrary to popular belief, pain does not always stem from damage to muscles or bones. It can sometimes come from the actual nerve tissues within the body. As muscles and bones respond to stress, whether it be acute or chronic, tissues in the body change. These changes might involve protein being released from a cell, or perhaps, the breakup of collagen bonds within connective tissue. Whatever the source, the damaged tissue is not actually causing pain. Instead, the brain decides that these changes are significant enough for a person to be aware of and, in turn, causes an individual to interpret these signals as pain, stiffness or general discomfort. This is the reason why we feel pain.
Chronic pain may be caused when nerve impulses are sent alerting the brain to damaged tissues, making us feel pain, yet the tissue damage is not actually occurring in proportion to the injury response. This oversensitized threshold of pain is sometimes the result of prior injury. Essentially, the nerves send and interpret the wrong message – and this leads to an estimated 116 million Americans suffering from chronic pain each year. While the causes of chronic pain are varied, there are certain exercises physical therapists can guide patients through that will decrease both sensitivity and pain.
One of the best ways to treat chronic pain is by performing nerve glide exercises. Nerve gliding refers to the physical-mechanical process of moving and shifting different components of the massive neural network, which cause the nerve to ‘glide’ as you move your joints. This encourages the nerves to behave normally, and promotes a healthy nervous system with fewer misinterpreted messages. A licensed and certified physical therapist will have the knowledge and expertise to ensure that a patient performs appropriate exercises based on his or her symptoms, and moves through the exercises in a safe and effective manner.
Maintaining the health of the nervous system will benefit patients in several ways:
- Signal conduction to the muscles will improve
- Greater range of motion
- Increased sensory perception
- Decreased pain and/or discomfort
Physical therapists have a multitude of techniques at their disposal to help reduce patient’s pain, such as stretching, strengthening exercises, pain relief exercises, ultrasound, and many more. Everyone is different, so it is important to work with a physical therapist to determine the cause of your pain, and then develop a personalized treatment plan that is right for you.