If we have no problem spending the time or money to take our cars in for a tune-up on a regular basis, why do so many people struggle doing the same for their body? PT Ruth Meltzer explains why putting your body on a maintenance program will benefit you in the long run.
BY RUTH MELTZER, PT, DPT, OCS, RAUSCH PHYSICAL THERAPY
Do you own a car? Do you take it in for regular tune-ups? Even if there aren’t any glaring issues, I bet you do take your vehicle in to the shop every x-amount of miles to get the tires aligned, change the oil, and have an expert take a peek under the hood to ensure everything is running how it should be.
We all know that proper maintenance helps avoid costly breakdowns, long-term mechanical problems, or *gasp* having to go days without a car while it’s getting fixed. So if we have no problem spending the time or money to care for our cars on a regular basis, why do so many people struggle doing it for their body? Do you really value a car more than your health!?
We need to change the way we think about our health and wellness and finally take charge of our bodies. “Wellness” is defined as “the quality or state of being healthy in body and mind, especially as the result of deliberate effort.” We need to deliberately make the choice to get healthy and stay that way. By being your own advocate and putting your body on a maintenance program—just like you do with your car—you can keep your (musculoskeletal) parts oiled, aligned and moving correctly to avoid costly breakdowns (injuries).
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Let’s say you’ve signed up for a triathlon, but during your second week of training you notice your shoulder bothers you after every swim. However, you’re determined to keep training, so you ignore it for weeks until the pain has become so bad that you finally decide to go see your doctor. You wait weeks to get in to see her, just to have her tell you to schedule a physical therapy appointment. By this time, months of neglect have turned a minor issue into a major injury that will now take more time, money and energy to address.
This is just like an easily avoidable car breakdown. Your check-engine light comes on (first twinge of pain), but you ignore it because of time or money or just plain negligence. You keep trucking along, until that fateful day when you break down on the side of the road (injury). Now you have to wait hours (weeks) for a tow truck (doctor’s appointment) and pay for that. Then you have to pay the mechanic to figure out the problem and fix it (PT)! Your car (body) is out of commission for weeks, and you’re stuck Ubering around (putting your training on hold) thinking how all this could have been easily avoided with better care and maintenance.
It doesn’t have to happen like this! If you live in California or any other state with Direct Access laws, now is the time to take charge of your health and come in to physical therapy for regular tune ups before you get injured or at the first inkling of pain, no doctor prescription necessary.
What Does a Wellness “Tune-Up” Look Like?
At Rausch Physical Therapy, we call tune-ups “Wellness Checkups,” and we recommend one every six months. At your checkup, a doctor of physical therapy will do a quick assessment of your body’s flexibility, strength, control, and movement to identify and address any dysfunctions. You leave with an individualized plan of care and strength and stability exercises to do at home to help prevent any potential issues down the road.
As musculoskeletal experts, physical therapists treat the body as a whole; when you come in with knee pain, we know to look at your hip, pelvis, spine and foot to see how they might be affecting your knee joint. Getting regular tune-ups with your physical therapist will help keep your alignment in check to guarantee all your parts are working like they should be. Of course, if injury does happen, you can come DIRECTLY in to see your PT as soon as you feel it. The longer you wait, the more time your muscles have to create imbalances and cause long term dysfunctions.
I hope this summer you decide to start keeping up the maintenance on your body like you keep up your car. With proper care and upkeep, you can ensure your body is always able to continue doing what you love to do and ready to handle anything life throws your way. Come see me at Rausch PT, and I’ll help you get started on a successful wellness program!
Ruth Meltzer, PT, DPT, OCS is a licensed physical therapist at Rausch Physical Therapy & Sports Performance. She received her Doctorate of Physical Therapy degree at Loma Linda University in 2012 and received her orthopedic specialization in 2015. Ruth enjoys looking at functional movements and tailoring exercises and programs to help her patients as an individual not just a body part.