There are countless benefits to exercising regularly, particularly strength training. If done right, a regular exercise routine can improve your quality of life, whether you want to improve your golf game, be more agile on the tennis court, get up and down from the floor easier, keep up with your grandkids, or stand and walk more upright. A proper exercise routine can help achieve all these goals.
But, it can be hard to know what you should be doing to get the most out of your exercise routine. This is where physical therapy can help. A therapist can design an individualized exercise routine based on your strengths, weaknesses and goals. In this article, Cary Orthopaedics physical therapist, Chad Moses, PT, Cert. DN/SMT, GTS, CKTP, Dip. Osteopractic, shares how exercise and physical therapy helps to strengthen both the body and mind.
How physical therapy helps to strengthen your body
The most apparent benefit of strength training is enhanced physical capabilities. The body is a living organism that adapts to imposed demands. Therefore, it must be loaded with additional demands to improve physical abilities. How much load is necessary? The optimal load is applied to structures that maximize physiological adaptation.
A physical therapist can help you determine the amount of loading necessary to achieve your goals. Physical therapy will focus on facilitating structural and neural adaptations to help you move your best. As tissues adapt to changes in structural properties in response to increased load, the sensory information provided during movement will also change, prompting the central nervous system to adapt to these changes. This improves your coordination and “muscle memory” for specific activities.
Optimal loading for specific adaptation should consider the entire neuromusculoskeletal system. For loading to be optimal, it should be directed to the appropriate tissues and gradually progressed in terms of magnitude, direction and rate. Physical therapy aims to identify and advance at the ideal level of difficulty that provides significant mechanical and neural stimulus while preventing poor quality, rigid movement or excessive overload. This load reflects the individual’s current physical state, i.e., level of fitness, stress levels, health status, sleep state, nutrition, predisposition to injury, etc. This is why progressive overload is so fundamental to exercise prescription. It takes critical thinking and purposeful dosing of exercise to load our bodies in a meaningful manner and elicit actual positive tissue changes.
How physical therapy helps to strengthen your mind
Studies now show that mental strength is a critical key to achieving goals. Sometimes our goals get difficult, and success seems impossible. We become discouraged and want to quit. At its core, mental toughness is simply the ability to stick to something when it gets tough. People with high levels of mental toughness can push beyond these obstacles and forge a path towards success, while those with lower levels of mental toughness may abandon their goals.
The process of training your body develops mental strength as well. This involves training your mind to go to the gym even when you’re tired, to add a little more weight even when the last set felt hard. Experiencing failure will motivate you to be better and develop mental strength that can apply to all aspects of life. A physical therapist can provide the support you need to meet your goals and gain resilience.
Personal experience gained from knowing you can work towards a goal and accomplish it develops self-confidence, further improving performance. Strength training develops movement confidence, the feeling of adequacy in a specific movement, so you have the assurance from experience and know you can do something. Research from sports literature provides clear evidence that a significant relationship exists between self-confidence and performance.
READ: Physical Therapy Isn’t Just for Those Recovering from Surgery
Training both your mind and body
It is clear that the physical adaptation and mental competence gained from exercise improve both your physical and mental abilities. As physical therapists, we like to say, “Exercise truly is the best medicine.”
Physical therapy has a wide range of benefits and can provide the help needed to reach your physical goals, whatever they may be. Contact us today to book an appointment with a physical therapist at one of our multiple PT locations.