Physical therapy for general improvement of health?
July 6, 2016 7:56 PM   Subscribe

Is there a kind of physical therapist who can help me work through some general posture and muscle imbalance problems, and teach me exercises to avoid re-aggravating an old injury? How would I find one?

I'm way out of shape. A long ago shoulder injury ended my recreational swimming, and a series of chronic illnesses have led to essentially ten years of sedentary life. I'm pretty darn overweight, but working on that via diet already. I'd like to go back to swimming regularly, but figure I should probably learn what I did wrong so I don't re-create my tendonitis.

I know that most of my muscle systems are unbalanced. My hip flexors are tight, my abs and back are weak as can be, and I've forgotten half the PT exercises I was given for neck pain/migraines. I have old rotator cuff problems in both shoulders (thanks, high school swim coach). What exercises I can remember from dry land work in high school are totally beyond my strength/flexibility at this time.

I'd like somebody who can help me:

-identify what muscles I need to work on to improve posture and reduce discomfort
-help me figure out how to know when I'm doing it right
-teach me exercises I can do at home to practice
-show me how to use my arm and shoulders in a way that I can avoid re-injuring my shoulders when swimming
-can engage in some mild bullying to make me do the exercises and ignore my occasional whining.

If I'm going to invest my time, money, and effort into getting my body healthy, I want to make sure I am working who knows what they are doing. I figure the average gym trainer doesn't have the educational background that may be needed for this sort of goal. Or do they? This article seems to describe what I'm looking for.

Is there a type of practitioner I'm describing? Maybe this is a whole field and I'm just out of the loop. How can I find somebody who can accomplish some/all of this? I'm in the Kansas City metro, if anybody has specific folks they could recommend.
posted by gilsonal to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I saw a chiropractor once that recommended exercises and had a gym attached to his office. He was too pricey for me ay the time, but he was very committed to the whole balanced body idea. I think his costs were similar to those of a physical therapist. Chiropractors differ greatly of course.
posted by aetg at 8:03 PM on July 6, 2016

I should mention, he very specifically evaluated where I was weak and/or unbalanced and recommended specific exercises targeting those areas in addition to adjustments to help improve blood flow.
posted by aetg at 8:28 PM on July 6, 2016

A physiotherapist (DPT, doctor of physical therapy) should be able to sort you out for pretty much everything you're after. You might want sport-specific coaching for the swimming, and I'm betting the physio will be able to point you to someone who can help with that.

Some physio clinics are geared more towards people who are not expected to do a lot of physical activity (older patients, people with advanced diabetes, etc); others work with younger populations (recreational athletes, actual athletes). Go for the latter kind of clinic. No idea about local recs for you, but I would find out which clinics treat people on your local sports teams and check those out.

I'm not sure about chiros. I know some have moved past their weird history, do contemporary evidence-based stuff, and work alongside other professionals I feel more certain about... I know some do spinal manipulation, which I am totally wary about. Other than that, any actual MSK therapy a modern chiro can do, a physiotherapist can also do, and there is more clarity around PT (DPT) training, to me. And they also can diagnose MSK disorders.

Hmm, quick google, you have an actual orthopedic hospital with a PT department that takes self-referred outpatients.
posted by cotton dress sock at 8:43 PM on July 6, 2016 [3 favorites]

A kinesiologist might be worth checking into.
posted by rozee at 8:57 PM on July 6, 2016

You might add private yoga instuction to any of the suggestions above. Yoga really does do amazing things both for your mind and body.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 9:19 PM on July 6, 2016

I got something like what you're looking for when I worked with a private Pilates trainer.
posted by not that girl at 10:41 PM on July 6, 2016 [3 favorites]

Physiotherapist is what I'd go to for these kinds of issues.
posted by crocomancer at 1:27 AM on July 7, 2016

Physiotherapist. A lot of chiropractors are unlicensed and you can run into some pretty terrible ones that cause permanent injury.

Tai Chi is good for flexibility, mindfulness and building strength.
posted by mmmleaf at 9:47 AM on July 7, 2016

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