Gymnastics is a challenging sport and participants often suffer from injuries. The good news is that having an experienced physical therapist on your team will get you back into optimal form in minimal time. Are you wondering: “How do I find a good physical therapist who works with gymnasts near me?” Then you’re in the right place! Keep reading to discover where to find such professionals, how to identify your therapist from the lot, and many other related concerns. Let’s begin!
A gymnast at work is a beautiful sight to see as they appear to float effortlessly while performing gravity-defying routines. But a gymnast is always at risk of injuries such as:
- Superior Labrum, Anterior-Posterior (SLAP) lesions in the shoulder
- Elbow dislocation
- Wrist sprains
- Lower extremity injuries usually from the landing and dismount activities and may include:
- Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injury: This is a sprain of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) — one of the main ligaments in your knee. ACL injuries often occur with sudden stops or changes in direction, jumping, and landing.
- Rolled/sprained ankle: A rolled ankle happens when a gymnast lands a skill (or a maneuver) with too much of their weight on the outside of the foot. This forces the ligaments beyond their normal range of motion and causes an injury.
- Achilles tendinitis: This condition arises when you overuse the Achilles tendon, the band of tissue connecting your calf muscles at the back of your lower leg to your heel bone.
- Lower back injuries
Kindly note the above list of possible gymnasts’ injuries is not exhaustive.
How Does Physical Therapy Help Gymnasts?
All gymnasts need to remain in prime physical form and maintain a high-performance level. However, this puts great demand on their bodies and makes them vulnerable to injuries. Physical therapy provides specialized training regimens to promote swift recovery. It also helps to improve an athlete’s strength and flexibility.
Some of the benefits of physical therapy include:
The wrong techniques in gymnastics (and other sports) can lead to torn/sprained ligaments, muscle injuries, and even fractures. However, a physical therapist can evaluate your strengths and weaknesses and create a personalized training program. This information is used to create a routine that may reduce the probability of you experiencing injuries.
Immediate Pain Relief
Gymnasts may require immediate pain-relieving interventions. Physical therapy techniques like hot and cold packs, taping of damaged joints, and dry needling may help alleviate the pain.
Physiotherapy eases muscular tension by targeting the source of pain before the gymnast is taken for more extensive tests. These rapid pain treatments can reduce the reliance on opioid drugs for pain management.
Treatment of Injuries
While we emphasize the prevention of injuries, we must also consider the treatment of injuries. Some of these injuries may even be sufficiently severe to require surgery. Whether post-surgery or not, physical therapists can create a treatment plan that guarantees a quick recovery at a lower cost.
Completing a cool-down routine after a long training day is just as important as a warm-up. Physical therapy helps gymnasts to unwind after a hard workout. This helps them to relax their muscles, regain their energy, and enjoy improved health.
Build Physical Strength
A gymnast has to develop great physical strength to master skills. Physical therapy helps to strengthen your ligaments, joints, and muscles. It can also enhance your performance and help you achieve your full potential in the sport.
Improve Muscle and Joint Flexibility
Joint flexion is a critical component in evaluating a gymnast’s potential. This sport requires maximum flexibility to complete skills safely and successfully. Increased flexibility not only leads to better performance but also prevents injuries from occurring.
Physical therapy also helps to improve your cardio health. The recommended training programs may include cardio workouts to enhance your endurance and breathing patterns.
How to Find a Good Physical Therapist
In the event of an injury that leads to pain, loss of range of motion, and strength, then you will need physical therapy. Your doctor may also prescribe that you get physical therapy, but several states also allow direct access to a physical therapist with no referral.
A physical therapist can help you regain your functional mobility and fitness. He or she will help motivate you to do the right things to get back to your best health.
Interested in learning how to find a good physical therapist? Here’s what you can do:
Ask Your Doctor
Many physicians are connected with specialists and so your doctor may be able to recommend a physical therapist. Furthermore, your doctor may know which physical therapist is most suitable to assess and treat your specific condition.
Do an Online Search
You can find almost anything and anyone on the internet these days. Many physical therapy clinics – like Moving With Hope – will have a website. Their website will state their services, operating hours, location, and what to expect during your therapy session. These sites may also have copies of the required paperwork that you will need to complete before your first visit.
Check the Yellow Pages
Your local physical therapy clinics may also be listed in the phonebook. Many clinics will list their hours, location, and participating insurance carriers.
Check With Your Local Hospital
Your local hospitals will likely have a dedicated outpatient physical therapy clinic. So you can call the hospital and request a connection to the physical therapy or rehabilitation department.
Contact the APTA
The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) is the governing body for all physical therapists who practice in the USA. So you can contact them to help you find a physical therapist.
Request a Recommendation from a Friend
Many persons have visited a physical therapist for a specific injury or condition. So you can ask a friend or a family member if they ever visited a physical therapist and how they found the experience.
This type of recommendation is quite valuable and tends to be unbiased. It will also address therapists’ professionalism and their ability to help patients feel much better with each session.
How to Choose the Right Physical Therapist
You may have found several physical therapists with varying qualifications and claims. How do you select the best physical therapist for your needs?
Here are a few things to consider when choosing a good physical therapist:
Evaluate Their Education and Experience
You need to consider each physical therapist’s credentials and educational background. At first, physical therapy was previously a bachelor’s or master’s degree. However, since five years ago, almost all physical therapists in the USA received Doctorate of Physical Therapy (DPT) degrees.
A DPT is not a Ph.D. (although some physical therapists hold PhDs). It is a clinical doctorate degree, much like a PsyD for psychologists. A DPT program generally lasts three years and the curriculum covers courses on anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, exercise science, and other specialties.
A great portion of a DPT program is completed in clinical settings. Physical therapists are mentored and evaluated by practicing therapists in treating patients suffering from sprains, pain, post-surgery stiffness, and stroke. However, it is the amount of time that’s spent in practice that is a better predictor of a therapist’s expertise than an academic degree.
Evaluate Their Post-Degree Education
You should also consider each physical therapist’s post-degree education. At a minimum, they should have a state license. Post-degree education may include continuing education, certifications (in particular conditions), specializations, and/or residency programs.
Physical therapists can also complete a residency program in a particular specialization. These residency programs are also designed to enhance their knowledge in an area of specialty. These programs are often 12 to 18 months long and involve additional didactic and mentored learning. Unlike physicians who must complete residency training to practice, for physical therapists, this is optional.
Once physical therapists complete a residency, then they take a Board Certification exam in a particular area of practice. Physical therapists may also complete other forms of post-degree education like fellowships. So when you’re evaluating a physical therapist’s post-degree education, choose one that specializes in the area that most closely matches your health needs.
Examine Their Interactions With You
The trend indicates that there is reduced face-time with healthcare practitioners in recent times. This is due to several factors such as lower reimbursement rates, higher patient volume, and more documentation requirements. This trend also applies to physical therapists.
However, this doesn’t mean that you should accept low-quality healthcare. A good physical therapist should take the time to listen to you, carefully note your concerns, involve you in your treatment process, set reasonable goals, and dedicate time to ensure that you are meeting the related milestones. A good physical therapist should be willing to adjust your treatment and to be honest to let you know if you need another specialist to complete your care.
Assess Your Physical Therapy Treatment Program
Your physical therapy sessions should first begin with a comprehensive interview that would include your reasons for seeking therapy, and what you would like to get from it.
Physical therapy should involve active techniques like exercise, which you would perform with the right guidance and supervision. Also, your physical therapist will administer some passive techniques.
These passive techniques can include stretching your muscles and joints, as well as modalities like heat and ultrasound. But while these passive techniques can make you feel much better, it’s the active techniques that produce more lasting results. Even if your program starts with a lot of passive techniques, you should progress to an active program in short order.
What Should You Expect From a Good Physical Therapist?
Let’s discuss what you should expect from a good physical therapist:
A Realistic Timeline for Your Recovery
Yes, you want to get better, but you want to be realistic, and your therapist should be as well.
While you want to ensure that your physical therapist has your best interest at heart, you also want your time and money to be spent wisely.
Therefore, your first consultation should discuss your recovery goals and a clear timeline should also be outlined. This timeline can be as short as six weeks or even longer. It all depends on the extent of your injury. With every visit, your physical therapist should measure your progress towards achieving your recovery goals. If you’re not making sufficient progress, then a good therapist should be willing to adjust your treatment regimen accordingly.
Use Different Treatment Techniques
If all your physical therapist does is focus on stretches, then that’s not enough. You need a therapist who is willing to combine several passive and active treatment techniques in your sessions.
We recommend that you choose a facility that has new equipment and employs various strategies that help you extract the most benefits from your sessions. Your physical therapist must demonstrate their knowledge about current studies on these treatment options and the ability to explain what each technique does for your condition. Above all, you want a customized treatment plan that utilizes a variety of techniques to fast-track your recovery.
Expertise in Your Specific Health Condition
If you have a gymnastics injury, then you need to find a physical therapist that specializes in treating such injuries. Not only will they have the specialized knowledge and techniques to guide your recovery process, but they will also be able to empathize with you and provide even better healthcare.
Feeling at Ease in Your Sessions
You don’t want to dread your physical therapy sessions, you want to look forward to them. Just as you wouldn’t go to a dentist you’re not completely comfortable with, you should choose a physical therapist that makes you feel at ease.
You will spend a lot of time close to your therapist, so you want to have a professional rapport with this person. You will need to be able to trust them with your body and that they will help you achieve your recovery goals.
Support to Work on Your Condition Outside of Your Therapy Sessions
While physical therapy is good, you won’t be able to address all your major injuries like a rolled ankle or a torn ACL in an hour (or two) of therapy each week. You will need to do your homework as well.
This homework may involve completing a series of exercises at regular intervals to further build on what you did in your sessions. So make sure that you choose a physical therapist who is willing to take the time to explain what you should be doing at home and in what way. Successful physical therapy means working with your therapist to achieve your recovery goals.
How Long is Rehab After a Gymnastics Injury?
While you would prefer to avoid injury, sometimes the injury is inevitable. The time taken to rest and recover varies depending on the part of the body that is injured, the extent of the injury, and other factors. Minor injuries can take a matter of weeks, while more serious ones can take anywhere from six months to a year.
However, you should consult with your physician and physical therapist to determine the expected timeframe for your recovery.
How Do I Find a Rehabilitation Program for Gymnastics Injuries?
Now you no longer have to ask: “How do I find a good physical therapist who works with gymnasts near me?” We have provided you with the information you need to find a physical therapist to address your unique needs.
Are you in the Shelton, CT area and its environs? Then our team of professionals at Moving With Hope can help you with your gymnastics rehab. We have expert physical therapists and other specialists who will work with you and your existing medical team to achieve your recovery goals. We invite you to contact us today so that we can get you back to doing what you love the most.