Stephen Arroyo talks preventive strategies for injuries.
It’s a no brainer that if you were involved in an accident, suffered an injury or broke a bone you’d call a doctor to get immediate relief. Once your immediate needs get taken care of what would the next logical step be? Whether you realize it or not, a Physical Therapist should be in the top tier of your call list as well to help you get back to (or as close as possible) your old self.
Why are physical therapists important? I recently caught up with Stephen Arroyo a licensed physical therapist at Therasport in John’s Creek, GA to find out the answer. When asked what the big deal was about physical therapy, Stephen explained “it is often the preventative measures that stop a lot of people from enduring injuries and many times surgery.”
Stephen, a therapist of 15 years is heavily into avoidance strategies. He’s seen people spend months and even years at chiropractors for things like lower back pain who end up getting no relief. Now don’t get me wrong, there is still a place for a really good chiropractor from time to time but lets explore more. Stephen says “about 80% of all spinal pain in one form or fashion is related to the disk, so manipulation can sometimes be too much for a person or be overly aggressive and cause pain to get worse.” He also said “even when the manipulations are a good thing for the patients, the problem is that they don’t become empowered to learn ways to help with their own pain outside of the doctor.”
When asked if he saw certain injuries more in people based on gender or age, he noted a resounding “yes.” Stephen mentioned that women, because of the way our bodies are designed would be helped if we did exercises to work the gluteal muscles and quadriceps. This helps to reduce the likelihood of knee injuries which are common in women since women have a broader pelvis and this causes the Q-angle to put more stress on the knee.
Men on the other hand, often come in with low back problems and rotator cuff injuries. They need more help increasing flexibility in the hamstrings and range of motion in the quadriceps. Without it, this can cause problems with the ligaments and disks. If they focus on form and flexibility, it can help curb the high numbers of men with injuries.
What is most disturbing to me is the number of children who have to go to physical therapy for things that might otherwise be preventable. Seeing a kid with a torn ACL makes me cringe. Whether surgery is indicated or not to repair the tear, there will need to be rehabilitation to gain back range of motion. I’ve even seen kids with lower back issues as young as 10yrs old and inquired about this. Aaroyo says “overuse competitive injuries heppen often in children and teens. Kids are now playing the same sports all year long where in the past they were just seasonal.” He added “the repetitive stress can have an impact on bones and tissues in these kids who aren’t yet fully developed.” He finished up by saying “the body needs time to repair itself between use in these sports or you can begin to see a break down of tissue because of placing more physical strain on tissue over time. “
As for suggestions on what to do and how long, Stephen noted men they should give themselves 15-20 minutes two times a week to work on flexibility of lower extremities. Martial art is a great avenue for this. For women, he suggests stretching quadriceps muscles to work on strength and gluteals two times a week for 15-20 minutes. This general overview is not meant to replace or negate the advice of your own physician; however, it is a good start.
On a final note, according to Stephen who I’ve secretly deemed ‘Mr. Personality,’ parents would be wise to start healthy behaviors early to avoid injuries in their kids. To help reduce the likelihood of injuries, Stephen suggests having kids do cross-training. This gives the body a chance to work various muscles while giving others a break. Things like running and throwing are what he calls working the mechanics and add to flexibility. Also, joining in with parents for something like yoga and running on their toes can help as well added according to Stephen’s utterly adorable PT assistant Kala who is always a pleasure to chat with.
*The information contained herein is not meant to be used as medical advice. Please consult your personal physician.