"You're only as young as you feel" may have a grain of truth to it, but so does another saying: "You're only as young as you function." As you age, you may discover that your quality of life takes a hit not just from chronic aches and pains, but also from increasing problems with strength, flexibility, and balance. Fortunately, physical therapy can help you keep these limitations to a minimum while also helping you feel better. Here are three important ways that physical therapy can help you ward off the worst ravages of encroaching age.
1. Range-of-Motion Exercises for Painful Joints
Osteoarthritis is one of the most common causes of chronic pain in older individuals. As the cartilage within your joints starts to wear away, the ends of the bones rub together, causing discomfort and stiffness with each joint motion. contrary to what you might think, however, keeping those joints moving can do them a lot of good. Regular exercise such as walking or swimming can help the joints stay lubricated, reducing pain. Your physical therapist may also prescribe specific range-of-motion exercises to help keep your supporting muscles as loose and limber as possible. This combination of benefits may help you go about your daily tasks with less dependence on pain-relieving drugs.
2. Strength Training to Boost Brain, Bone and Muscle Health
Have you ever noticed how older people's muscles seem to waste away? This issue, sarcopenia, may occur due to neurological problems, hormonal imbalances, changes in the way the body absorbs nutrients, and a sedentary lifestyle. Strength training exercises from your physical therapist can help you minimize muscle loss or even build new muscle. Strength training also seems to improve bone density (a serious concern among older women) and high-level brain function. At the same time, stronger muscles can support greater burdens without chronic strain or injury, helping you overcome low back pain and other complaints.
3. Balance Training to Help Prevent Falls
Did you know that 1 out of every 4 seniors in the U.S. will suffer a fall this year? Age-related muscle weakness and balance problems can pose serious dangers to older individuals, especially those who also struggle with bone density issues. If you've been feeling a bit wobbly these days, you might benefit greatly from a physical therapy treatment plan that includes balance training. Your exercises might include balancing on one leg, heel-to-toe walking, or maintaining your equilibrium on a balance board.
Getting older doesn't have to mean feeling creaky or losing your ability to participate in life. Contact your local physical therapy center today to learn more about how the right senior physical therapy plan can help you keep going!