What if there was a way to know that you’ll develop chronic neck pain ten years from now? What if there was also a way to know that there’s something you could be doing now to stop it? No, you don’t need a crystal ball, but you do need a physical therapist.
How you move is a great predictor of injuries and other dysfunctions to come, and no one is better trained to identify your risks than a physical therapist. With the assistance of evaluation tools that analyze your fundamental movements, PTs can get a clear picture of what the future will bring for you. PTs rely on a number of movement screens, including ones they’ve developed for their own practices and those that require certification such as the Functional Movement Screen (FMSTM) and Selective Functional Movement Screen (SFMA).
According to research including Pre-Participation Screening: The Use of Fundamental
Movements as an Assessment of Function—Part I, it’s a valuable to see a physical therapist for a full evaluation and movement screen before beginning a new exercise program, to improve performance in activities you already engage in and to prevent injuries down the line. This injury prevention strategy is universally suitable, not just for athletes. Here at Hubbard PT, we utilize both of these screens, along with others, to help gauge how our clients move.
The first physical therapy appointment is critical: It allows your PT to establish a baseline, or a way to measure changes—both good and bad—in future appointments. The best way to track those changes is by making a habit of scheduling annual visits with your PT, just as you do with your primary care physician. Remember that chronic neck pain we were talking about? Your physical therapist is trained to detect the earliest signs of neck dysfunction, address contributing factors and prevent the problem from growing into a major issue.
The key to using physical therapy for injury prevention is to return each year for a movement scan. With annual appointments, you’ll get the reassurance that you’re moving your body properly and doing everything you can to stay healthy for many years to come.