Assessing one’s fitness level is not a standardized process where a one size fits all procedure exists. Several unique factors such as genetic makeup, muscle tissue, overall health and history, and even our differences in lifestyle play a role in your fitness level.
The same holds true for physiotherapy. Therapists usually conduct assessments also based on personal unique factors in order to come up with a personalized treatment program for patients. The activities and modalities they recommend are designed to be within the individual’s capabilities and to improve their faculties over time.
Before making your next visit to the physiotherapy clinic, here are some of the ways physiotherapy supplements fitness through each of its components.
1. Muscular Strength
Muscular strength refers to the power you can draw in carrying and lifting heavy objects. It is often measured by the weight you can lift and the force that you can exert.
Examining muscle strength is usually done as a part of the patient’s assessment. It is often used to determine weakness and to differentiate it from imbalance or poor endurance. Afterward, personalized recovery programs introduce activities that help patients tolerate pain and gradually increase muscular strength. In fact, a Korean study showed that an exercise program helped firefighters experiencing chronic back pain gain enhanced lower back muscular strength.
Also, your therapist might recommend the use of modalities to help facilitate muscular strength development. Procedures such as Electric Muscle Stimulation (EMS) enhances a workout session by sending electrical impulses that cause the muscles to contract. A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning concluded that their “analysis shows that trained and elite athletes, despite their already high level of fitness, are able to significantly enhance their level of strength to [the] same extent as is possible with untrained subjects.”
2. Cardiovascular Endurance
Your cardiovascular system refers to the combination of the heart, lungs, and all blood vessels that deliver blood and oxygen to the furthest ends of your body. Its endurance reflects in your ability to perform physical activities such as jogging, running, swimming, and cycling for extended periods of time. When you physically exert yourself, the muscles you use require additional oxygen supplied by your cardiovascular system, forcing your heart and lungs to work harder.
Your physiotherapist, after tests and assessment, can help you attain better cardiovascular health by addressing risk factors such as your diet, obesity, or sedentary lifestyle. The next step is usually intervention in the form of including strength training and aerobic conditioning. Your therapist will lay down a regimen customized to suit your needs. For cardiovascular endurance, it usually involves the above activities. When done regularly in controlled and gradually increasing intensity, it can get your body get used to the increasing demands put on it.
3. Muscular Endurance
Your muscular endurance refers to the ability of your muscles to maintain repeated, continuous contractions for an extended period of time. Practically, this describes how many times you can perform full squats or sit-ups before you start to feel pain or break form. Where strength might be quantified by the weight you can lift, endurance corresponds to how many bicep curls can you do with it.
Both in exercising for fitness and rehabilitating from injuries, strength training is one of the interventions used most often – usually aiming to also improve strength and flexibility in the process. For training endurance, it is recommended by the American College of Sports Medicine to take strength training of lower intensities. In this method, you use a weight load that is less than half of the maximum weight you can use for one repetition. You then perform the exercise activity with low weight, but with increasing repetitions.
Moreover, your physiotherapist can help you choose the set of activities that will allow you to utilize large muscle groups. Improving muscular endurance can use different exercises that use either one or two limbs or multiple joints for every set.
Flexibility describes the range of motion you can achieve with your joints. As an important component of physical fitness, it is important to pay attention to flexibility training because, without it, both joints and muscles become stiff and will then limit your motion. Being fit includes being flexible – you should be able to move through your entire range of motion without feeling stiff or painful.
Consulting a physiotherapist, especially if you experience pain and stiffness despite regular stretching, can help you restore your joints and even increase your range of motion. These trained professionals can identify the exact source and cause of pain or stiffness or even involve other professionals as needed, namely, if there are musculoskeletal or nerve problems included. But for improving flexibility as a part of total fitness, there are established physiotherapy treatments designed to help your joints. Dynamic stretching before a workout activates your muscles and reduces stiffness while static stretching helps you cool down after the workout, loosening up the muscles exposed to tension.
5. Body Fat Composition
Simply put, your body fat composition is the amount of fat you have. Imagine an individual weighing a hundred pounds. If he has a 25% body fat composition, it equates to a lean body mass of about 75 pounds. Optimal fitness for men requires a body fat composition not more than 17 percent while 24 percent is the threshold for women.
Physiotherapists continue to establish the importance of analyzing body fat composition and regulating it with physiotherapeutic principles towards promoting total fitness. A significant advancement that helps both therapists and patients get a closer estimate of body fat composition is the use of Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA). Since most of our body is composed of water, BIA passes a low electrical current through your body and the voltage is measured. The resistance or impedance of your body is then computed.
Also, your body composition helps your therapist arrive at a more personalized approach to helping you get fit by understanding your physiological makeup and identifying guided treatments to correspond to specific parts of your body.
Attaining fitness is a holistic process that will require work and commitment. While most of us get by with following generalized workout routines, visiting a physiotherapist can help you identify which parts you need to focus more on as well as helping you set and monitor realistic and attainable good. A guided and personalized workout program optimizes the results of your effort while minimizes the risks of you experiencing an injury in the process.