Nearly every athlete or active person will at some point need physical therapy (PT), which is the rehabilitation of an injury. Don't shake your head. It doesn't have to be a major injury, such as a broken bone. Even something as common as a slightly sprained ankle requires therapy.
Few folks realize that the ankle is one of the most complex joints in the human body. It has numerous bones, ligaments and tendons. It's definitely worth some research. Type "anatomy of the human ankle" into a search engine and you may be surprised at what you learn.
For our purposes, let's follow the timeline of a sprained ankle without PT. You first realize something is wrong with your ankle after an activity. You felt a sharp pain when it happened, but the pain didn't go away. Instead, your ankle became swollen and painful when touched. You iced it and spent a day or so in active rest. Then you returned to your active life.
The ankle grew more painful as you kept walking and playing your sport, and it hurt every time you put weight on it. You naturally began to favor the injured ankle to prevent pain, transferring more work to the healthy ankle. This caused an imbalance in the way you shifted your weight. The imbalance quickly because chronic, affecting your entire active and athletic performance.
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A physical therapist would have identified the imbalance in the way you walked and given you exercises and a program to follow that would help prevent favoring of the sore ankle. The therapist would schedule more visits to keep track of how you were recovering, analyzing not only the ankle, but the distribution of your weight. Some therapists have a pressure plate that measures the weight of each foot placement, showing whether you are doing less work on one side of the body.
Without this professional analysis and correction, you may continue letting one side of your body do more work than the other side. The results of such a change will eventually affect not only your walk, but all activities. Your athletic performance will subtly decline over time, and you will always wonder why.
This timeline is common with any injury, whether it's a broken bone; a pulled muscle, tendon or ligament. Having PT, where you are observed and analyzed in your movement, is usually the solution to lingering effects of even a mild injury; not to mention a serious one.
If you have been smart enough to get PT after a problem, never second-guess the therapist. If he or she tells you to ice it twice a day, do it. If there is a rehab program assigned for 'homework,' follow it as scheduled.
Now comes the big problem: if you don't have insurance that covers this kind of treatment, how are you going to pay for it? Be upfront with the issue. If necessary, tell the therapist that you will be paying out of pocket and will need to arrange an installment plan, if that's the case. Most PT companies will do more than let you pay over time; they will often give you a break on the price of each visit.
Wina Sturgeon is the editor of the online magazine Adventure Sports Weekly , which offers the latest training, diet and athletic information.