5 Physical Therapy Tips to Improve Recovery Time

Jun 1, 2023

The journey to recovery looks different for everyone going through physical therapy. The average recovery time for someone in rehab undergoing physical therapy can take anywhere from six to eight weeks. 

However, that number can be lower or higher depending on the severity of the ailment. Physical therapy speeds up recovery, giving you a better range of motion and lessening the pain caused by your injury. Total Physical Therapy, Denver’s recovery specialists, is committed to getting you back to feeling like the old you. Still, there are things you can do at home to improve flexibility and speed up recovery.  

Eat Healthy to Supplement Your Healing

Eating healthy can impact your life in a variety of ways, from having more energy throughout the day to reducing the risk of heart disease and diabetes. If you’re already eating healthy or want to start eating healthier to speed up recovery, certain foods are more beneficial than others. However, before we get to which foods you should eat, you should know which foods to avoid. These foods can make inflammation worse, which negatively affects healing. 

Foods you should avoid:

  • Fried foods
  • Soda and other high-fructose drinks
  • Red meat 
  • Processed meats 
  • Fat such as butter, margarine, or shortening

Whether you want to completely avoid these foods or reduce their intake is up to you. However, the less you eat them, the less your recovery will be impacted. Now that you know which foods to stay away from, these are the foods you should eat to lower inflammation and improve recovery time. 

Foods you should eat:

  • Leafy greens (vegetables)
  • Fatty fish 
  • Berries
  • Olive oil
  • Avocados
  • Coffee
  • Green tea
  • Peppers
  • Tomatoes 
  • Mushrooms

All of these foods reduce inflammation, either through antioxidants or other beneficial chemical compounds. Fatty fish, for example, are abundant with Omega-3 fatty acids. The EPA and DHA compounds in Omega-3 are metabolized into compounds that reduce inflammation. Omega-3 supplements are a popular alternative if you don’t eat much fish. 

Other foods, like berries, coffee, and green tea, contain antioxidants that remove free radicals, which can damage cells through oxidative stress. Furthermore, coffee contains polyphenols, another chemical compound that reduces inflammation. 

Stretch and Exercise

Light exercises that address your injury are key to a quick recovery. These exercises improve blood circulation, which can help lessen pain and speed up healing. In fact, improved circulation can induce faster recovery by providing oxygen to the injured areas, which helps with cell growth.

Stretching can also be beneficial. Whether it’s static or dynamic stretching, the act of stretching can improve flexibility and speed up recovery. The science isn’t clear about which kinds of stretches are the most beneficial or if stretching has the same effectiveness for everyone, though there’s enough to deduce that light to moderate stretching can benefit your recovery process.  

Get Some Equipment

While you can exercise without any equipment, you could get more out of your stretches and exercise if you have the right equipment. You don’t have to buy expensive equipment you won’t use once you’re finished with your physical therapy journey. Rather, you should focus on products with a small footprint that you can take anywhere, so you can continue your exercise if you’re away from home. 

These are just a few pieces of exercise equipment you should consider: 

  • Foam roller
  • Yoga ball
  • Massage gun
  • Resistance band
  • Light dumbbells 

These lightweight, low-profile items make the most of limited storage space and help anyone get the exercise they need at any time.

Stock up on Reusable Hot and Cold Gel Packs

Hot and cold therapy is a proven technique that helps reduce pain and inflammation, resulting in musculature that can recover faster. If you’ve ever used an Icy Hot product, you know the effectiveness of this technique. You don’t always need hot and cold therapy to feel better — It really depends on the situation. 

If you’re feeling pain or rigid muscles, you may want to apply a heat pack to improve blood circulation and relax the muscles. This will improve muscle flexibility and also oxygenate the area, resulting in less pain. However, if you’re experiencing pain caused by swelling, it’s best to apply a cold pack which lowers inflammation by reducing blood flow. Also, because the cold can numb nerves, you may feel less pain from the injury. 

While making cold packs by putting ice in a bag or a heat pack by submerging a kitchen towel in hot water is possible, you should consider buying hot and cold packs. These packs are convenient enough that you are more likely use hot and cold therapy often. It’s important not to overuse hot or cold therapy or to apply the packs directly to your skin. Generally, you’ll want to use the packs for no more than 15-20 minutes. If you plan on using both, you can switch between the two for a few cycles. 

Use Compression 

Compression is another clever technique you can do at home with products such as compression sleeves. It can alleviate symptoms associated with your physical injury by reducing inflammation caused by poor blood circulation. Compression keeps the blood from pooling or clotting around the area in recovery to improve circulation. In addition to compression sleeves for arms and legs, there are products like compression socks and gloves. You could also make use of compression bandages for harder-to-treat areas. 

Get Better Faster With Total Physical Therapy

Total Physical Therapy’s primary goal is patient recovery. We employ the best, most advanced physical therapy techniques administered by top physical therapy professionals. Whether recovering from a sports injury, car accident, or surgery, we can get you back to feeling like your old self. We offer dry needling, kinesio taping, vestibular rehabilitation, and other personalized therapies to help you recover. 

Contact us today to start your journey to feeling better.

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Schedule Your Dry Needling Appointment Today

You don’t have to spend another day in pain. Total Physical Therapy is here to help. Get started with your recovery and give us a call at (303) 758-5060 to schedule your preliminary physical therapy appointment. Our doctors will evaluate your therapy needs and determine a specialized treatment plan designed for you. Our friendly and knowledgeable staff is available daily throughout the week to offer support and detailed information about how we can treat any of your musculoskeletal injuries.

Schedule your appointment with Total Physical Therapy today.