Physical therapy hurts. In fact, the stress and pain of it all can be enough to make some patients refuse to come in for their scheduled sessions. Ultimately, the goal is to complete physical therapy and fully recover from an injury, and the pain is inevitable. However, there are some things patients can do in between their therapy sessions that not only reduce stress and pain but also make the next session easier.
Keep a Journal
Writing in a journal might be difficult for some patients in physical therapy, but for those who are able, it is an excellent tool to reduce stress and track pain. Journaling is similar to meditation in that it allows a person to focus on something beyond the pain. This type of mindfulness is an important part of learning how to manage stress and deal with pain without medication.
Another benefit of journaling is that it can be used to track progress at home and identify pain. Patients can bring this journal to their physical therapists, can read through and see patterns in pain or where in-home therapy can be improved. This will lead to a more successful recovery.
Stay Caffeinated, but Hydrated
A daily coffee or tea habit can be beneficial for patients in physical therapy beyond getting them up for those early morning sessions. Caffeine has been shown to reduce pain because it stimulates the nervous system. The antioxidants found in coffee and tea can also reduce inflammation, which will keep joints from swelling.
That doesn't mean a physical therapy patient should drink a whole pot of coffee each morning. Consuming too much caffeine can cause dehydration, which will make it more difficult to engage in physical therapy and causes the healing systems of the body to work less efficiently. In order to balance this effect, patients should drink plenty of water each day.
Get Plenty of Rest
Sleep is an important component of physical therapy. When a person engages in strength and flexibility exercise, the tiny fibers of muscles and tendons tear. This damage prompts an inflammatory reaction--there is usually pain and sometimes swelling. This is why physical therapy hurts. In this case, though, pain is a good thing. The inflammatory reaction creates an immune response that signals the cells to repair themselves. The fibers are rebuilt even stronger than before.
In order for this entire process to happen, the body needs rest. Most of the repair that bodies undergo happens during sleep. This is why patients in physical therapy should sleep at least seven hours per night, but optimally for more than eight.
Resting in between physical therapy sessions is just as important as a full night's sleep. If muscle and fiber damage hasn't repaired itself before the next session of stretching, a patient may feel even weaker than before and there is a greater chance for injury. Patients eager to recover quickly shouldn't try to do full exercises each day, but should instead wait for every other day or do just a little at a time. It won't just reduce pain, but it will reduce mental stress.
To learn more, contact a company like Dynamic Rehabilitation Services.