Guest Blog by Tom Teter, DC | Developer of Rehab to Fitness
In the world of rehabilitation, there seems to be a misunderstanding as to the importance of including fitness into your treatment plans. To often we try to conceptualize that this two ideas are distinct and separate from one another, when in fact they are both part of one large continuum. In order to understand how rehabilitation and fitness fit together, we must first be able to define the concept of fitness.
Whereas most see fitness as any activity involving physical effort, inherently it is so much more than that. Fitness can be defined as having the requisite physical abilities to perform a specific task. So fitness by definition entirely fits into the goals of any clinicians treatment plan.
When taking a thorough medical history as it relates to a patients pain, our job is to not only determine what is the primary driver of the pain, but also what are the patients goals and activity intolerances. If we can appropriately determine what a patient wants to do, and what they currently cannot do, then we can develop a treatment plan that bridges the gap between current competency and required capacity.
Most of the goals of a patients treatment plan include reducing pain, as well as restoring functions required for daily living. All activities required for daily living include elements of aerobic endurance, sub maximal lifting, and anaerobic capacity – which are fundamental capabilities that should be included in any fitness program.
The goal of rehabilitation is to restore function in order to reduce the patients pain, but once the function has been restored we need to be able to give our patients the ability to resist and tolerate load. Since the inability to tolerate load is a large part of most chronic musculoskeletal injuries, why are we not assisting our patients in becoming more resilient to stress as part of our treatment plans.
There should be a seamless integration between the low threshold interventions we perform for rehabilitation, and the high threshold stimulus we provide to improve fitness. Since stress is the common variable, we need to utilize treatment methodologies to create an environment for our patients to move well enough to add load to specific motor patterns to improve longevity by increasing capacity.
Regardless of your background or experience in relation to fitness, we can all recognize that fitness should be the end goal of all of our treatment plans, and if we can appropriate integrate the principles of fitness into our practices we will not only have better treatment outcomes but we can improve our patients health by making them more resilient to stress.
We dive much deeper into this topic and teach you the step-by-step fundamentals of incorporating fitness programming into your patient care in our new course, Rehab to Fitness. Attendees will leave this course with a comprehensive understanding of the true definition of fitness, utilizing exercise as medicine and how to integrate fitness programming into musculoskeletal care.
To learn more and view upcoming course dates, click here.