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Motion is Lotion: Heal Through Movement With PT

Updated: Oct 19, 2023

Children playing a soccer game.

When it comes to addressing pain and promoting healing, physical therapy has emerged as an effective treatment option in modern healthcare. One of the fundamental principles embraced by physical therapists is the concept of "motion is lotion."

In other words, movement is not only crucial for maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle, but it also plays a pivotal role in various aspects of your health. Some of these benefits can include decreased pain, restored function, and improved quality of life. Below we will explore how motion serves as a potent "lotion" for addressing various health conditions and why it is central to the practice of physical therapy.

Understanding the Concept of Motion is Lotion

Motion is lotion is a mantra that physical therapists often use to emphasize the significance of movement in the recovery process. It acknowledges that the body is designed to move and that the lack of movement can contribute to pain and dysfunction. Whether you're recovering from an injury, managing chronic conditions, or rehabilitating after surgery, physical therapy utilizes specific exercises, stretches, and techniques to encourage and restore motion, which, in turn, aids in pain relief.

Pain and the Importance of Movement

Pain can be a complex experience, but it often leads to a decreased willingness to move. However, avoiding movement due to pain can actually exacerbate the problem. We, as PTs, are trained to assess the underlying causes of pain and create tailored treatment plans that incorporate controlled and progressive movement. Through targeted exercises and therapeutic techniques, they aim to alleviate pain, increase flexibility, and improve strength and mobility.

Benefits of Movement in Pain Management

The first and most important benefit of movement is enhanced blood flow and transport of oxygen to the muscles. Movement stimulates blood circulation, ensuring that oxygen and essential nutrients reach the affected areas. Increased blood flow facilitates healing, reduces inflammation, and promotes tissue regrowth, aiding in pain relief.

Movement also improves joint lubrication. Regular movement helps maintain joint health by promoting the production and distribution of synovial fluid. This lubrication reduces friction between joint surfaces, reducing pain associated with conditions such as arthritis of the joints.

Strengthening muscles and supporting structures will also aid in relief of pain. Weak muscles and imbalanced support structures can contribute to pain and lack of stability. Physical therapy exercises target specific muscle groups to improve strength, stability, and posture, and therefore reduce pain and the risk of future injuries. Not to mention, a benefit of seeing a physical therapist is they typically provide you with a home program. Check out my blog post here where I teach you how to manage your pain at home.

Encouraging motion also has benefits to our nervous system. Movement stimulates the release of endorphins, the body's natural pain-relieving chemicals. This not only helps in managing pain but also improves mood, reduces stress, and promotes improvement in overall health.

Approaches to Movement-based Pain Management

Physical therapists work to employ various techniques and approaches to harness the power of movement in pain management such as:

  • Therapeutic Exercises: These exercises are specifically designed to restore and enhance strength, flexibility, and endurance. They are tailored to each person’s needs and conditions, gradually progressing as the patient improves.

  • Manual Therapy: Skilled hands-on techniques, such as joint mobilizations, soft tissue massage, and myofascial release, are used to improve joint mobility, alleviate pain, and enhance tissue healing.

  • Modalities: Physical therapists may also incorporate the use of modalities such as heat, cold, ultrasound, electrical stimulation, and laser therapy to further enhance pain relief and healing.

Physical therapists are the experts in movement and will make sure you are practicing proper technique during any activity they ask you to perform. Check out my blog post here where I discuss the importance of proper exercise form.

Embracing a Holistic Approach

While movement forms the cornerstone of physical therapy, a holistic approach is vital for comprehensive pain management. Physical therapists assess the individual as a whole, considering their lifestyle, occupation, and psychological factors that may contribute to pain. They provide education on posture, body mechanics, ergonomics, and self-care strategies to empower patients in managing their pain effectively.

In the realm of physical therapy, the notion that motion is lotion underscores the remarkable healing power of movement. By encouraging controlled and targeted exercises, physical therapists can effectively address pain, restore function, and enhance overall well-being.

If you're experiencing pain or limited mobility, get in touch! We offer free consultation calls where we chat about what you have going on and determine what your next best steps are.

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