Physical therapists strive through their work to help patients develop more optimal patterns of movement and postural behavior. A major goal of their work is to teach the nervous system how to better maintain proper alignment and control over the body. These factors allow the patient to move more effectively and without as much use of compensatory musculature (a major cause of deterioration over time when treatment is not sought after an injury).
Physical therapists also work to help make you stronger in some of your weakest areas. But does being strong beforehand make you less likely to end up on the physical therapy table in the first place?
In short, no. Being stronger in and of itself does not necessitate a lower rate of injury. So what factors do contribute to injury prevention?
When it comes to injury prevention, ensuring that a patient develops optimal alignment on loaded joints is incredibly important. This means that when a joint is loaded, the patient is loading the joint in the right direction and position.
If you’ve been reading this blog in the past, this is a concept that should sound pretty familiar to you from our different pieces on the nature and prevention of knee injuries. In the case of the knee in particular the primary culprit in injury has little to do with the “load” placed on the joint itself, and everything to do with the angle or the load relative to the knee structure.
Just as there are optimal positions for load-bearing on any given joint, there are positions that expose the joint to undue stress and a much higher chance of mechanical failure – aka injury.
So, it’s not just being strong that helps us prevent injury. Knowing how to activate this strength through optimal patterns of movement is what really underlies any effective injury prevention strategy.