with advice from Joyce Klee, PT,
and Mark Salandra, CSCS
Many people think of physical therapy clinics as a place to recover from injury, or a place to do rehabilitation after an operation. But many physical therapy clinics are now offering a broader range of services, shifting their attention to both prevention of and recovery from injury and illness.
Clinton Physical Therapy Center, a Physiquality member in Clinton, Tennessee, launched their wellness program, now known as the Take Charge Fitness Program, 20 years ago in 1995. It was originally intended as a bridge program for clients who had reached the end of physical therapy, but weren’t quite ready to exercise on their own. “Many of the people who come here need supervision that they can’t get at a health club,” says co-owner Joyce Klee. “We can cater their exercise programs to specific health issues, whether they are orthopedic or neurological problems, or other issues, like obesity.”
Now they often have clients who have never been through physical therapy, which is why anyone who joins the Take Charge Fitness Program gets a thorough evaluation. “During this screening,” explains Anna Dark, the Fitness Director at TCFP, “we look for any potential musculoskeletal dysfunctions or imbalances that can lead to injury if not addressed.” The staff at TCFP then incorporates specific exercises to improve and correct such problems, as a part of the member’s exercise regimen.
While each client has unique problems, there are several issues that Anna often sees in new members:
Tight hamstrings. “Nearly every new member we test for hamstring flexibility scores on the ‘needs work’ end of the scale,” she says.
Stiff shoulders and upper back muscles. Anna blames this on our day jobs, where we are often required to sit for long periods of time without changing position. (There are some ways to mitigate this, both through workspace adjustments and quick exercises at your desk. Check out our tips on workplace ergonomics to learn more.)
Inflexible muscles. Anna notes that most new clients need stretching exercises to increase flexibility. Their exercise programs often include both mobility exercises and core work. “Tight muscles are immobile muscles, and immobile muscles are much more likely to be injured,” she adds.
Some PT clinics also offer a variety of sports conditioning programs geared towards injury prevention. In addition to a gym program and personal training, Physiquality member The Center for Physical Rehabilitation offers more than 10 specialty programs among its four locations in Michigan. They include a variety of sports conditioning and injury prevention programs, like their bike fit program, where the PTs fit cyclists to their bikes and prepare a personalized home exercise program to optimize performance and relieve pain. Their staff can also do gait analysis, which uses a treadmill and specialized software to find abnormalities in a person’s walking and running gait patterns, allowing the PTs to recommend proper running shoes, posture corrections and exercises to strengthen the core and lower back.
Programs like StrengthCondition.com, one of Physiquality’s partner programs, aim to strengthen athletes in order to reduce injury. “We believe that participating in a comprehensive, supervised strength training program will help reduce the risk of most sports injuries,” says Mark Salandra, the creator of the program.
Aside from conditioning (or the lack thereof), Mark points to two key factors that can increase the risk of injury: overuse and lack of rest. Mark encourages all athletes, especially young ones, to engage in a variety of sports and activities, in order to avoid the overuse of any particular muscle or joint. In addition, any athlete must be ready to back off or to take a break should pain set in. It’s better to take a few days to let a minor injury heal; playing through the pain can lead to a more serious injury. (This is especially true when it comes to brain injuries and concussions.)
On a related note, Mark emphasizes that rest is a key part of any exercise regimen, noting that the more rested you are, the better you’ll perform. “It is only after your workout, when you are resting and replenishing your body with protein and other nutrients, when the body heals and gets stronger. This is why I live by the motto, ‘Train hard, but rest harder,'” he says.
Joyce Klee, PT, is a physical therapist and a co-owner of Clinton Physical Therapy Center, a Physiquality network clinic in Clinton, Tennessee. She opened Clinton Physical Therapy Center with her co-owner Kelly Lenz in 1988 and has more than 25 years of experience working with spinal dysfunction patients, and a variety of neurologic disorder cases.
Anna Dark is the Fitness Director of the Take Charge Fitness Program, a wellness facility run by Clinton Physical Therapy Center, a Physiquality network member in Clinton, Tennessee. Anna holds a B.S. in nutrition and food science from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville and is also a Certified Personal Trainer.
Mark Salandra, CSCS, is the founder of StrengthCondition.com, one of Physiquality’s partner programs. Mark educates and trains athletes young and old in strength and conditioning, with the goals of better fitness and lower rates of injury.
For further reading, look through our selection of articles on injury prevention and treatment, in addition to the below links:
Murray, Elizabeth. Teens playing through pain, not taking sports injuries seriously, says study. The Today Show, November 8, 2014.