PTs Fuel Healthy Movement With Nutrition

Physical therapy and nutrition are often seen as separate, but the truth is, they are deeply
intertwined. To get the most out of PT, especially after an injury or surgery, integrating both is
crucial. Here’s why:

Food Fuels The Body
During recovery from an injury or surgery, your body is working to heal itself. The activities and
exercises you’re doing in PT are designed to help it along. To take advantage of all the work
you and your body are putting in, proper nutrition is critical.
Protein provides the building blocks for tissue repair and muscle growth. Carbohydrates provide
energy and help support your immune system. Your body also needs healthy fats to regulate
inflammation and to build certain cells. Being short on any of these critical components will slow
your recovery down.
You also need enough micronutrients, like vitamins and minerals. For example, vitamin C is
needed to make collagen, which goes into bones, skin, and connective tissue. Vitamin D helps
your body absorb calcium, which is important for healing fractures, or surgeries involving bones.
Iron helps your blood cells carry oxygen throughout your body, which is needed for healing in
general. Again, being low on any of these micronutrients will affect your healing.

Your Weight Affects Your Health
Being overweight directly affects your health. It puts you at higher risk for cardiovascular
disease, stroke, osteoarthritis, back pain, diabetes, sleep apnea, and more. All of these are
conditions that you might see a PT directly for, or that will impact your healing. Eating a healthy
diet is the most effective way to reduce body weight. Combining a healthy diet with exercise is
even better for your health.
As an example, an 18-month study of 450 people with knee osteoarthritis showed that the group
that lost weight through a diet and exercised had less pain, better walking speed, and lower joint
forces in their knees than groups who either only lost weight, or only exercised.

How can a physical therapist help with nutrition?
While PTs are not authorized to provide individual diet plans or medical nutritional advice, they
can still help with your nutrition.

• PTs can screen for potential nutritional deficiencies or imbalances that may impact your
progress in PT or your overall health. This might involve screening for malnutrition,
sarcopenia (muscle loss), or assessing dietary habits affecting energy levels, healing, or
muscle building.
• Your PT can educate you on the importance of nutrition for various aspects of
rehabilitation and recovery. This includes explaining how specific nutrients like protein,
vitamins, and minerals contribute to tissue repair, muscle building, energy production,
and pain management.
• They can offer general guidance on healthy eating patterns, portion control, and
choosing nutrient-rich foods to support reaching your specific physical therapy goals.
• PTs recognize that overall health and well-being involve various factors, including proper
nutrition. They can encourage you to adopt healthy lifestyle habits that include a
balanced diet alongside regular exercise and proper sleep hygiene.

Finally, your PT can recognize when your nutrition needs exceed what they are able to provide.
In that case, they can refer you to and collaborate with a registered dietician or other qualified
healthcare professional for help in dealing with complex nutritional needs or recommending
specific dietary changes.

By combining the power of physical therapy and nutrition, you can achieve your
recovery goals faster and feel your best!

1. Effects of Intensive Diet and Exercise on Knee Joint Loads, Inflammation, and
Clinical Outcomes Among Overweight and Obese Adults With Knee
Osteoarthritis: The IDEA Randomized Clinical Trial Effects of Intensive Diet and
Exercise on Knee Joint Loads, Inflammation, and Clinical Outcomes Among
Overweight and Obese Adults With Knee Osteoarthritis: The IDEA Randomized
Clinical Trial | Obesity | JAMA | JAMA Network
2. Ottawa Panel Evidence-Based Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Management
of Osteoarthritis in Adults Who Are Obese or Overweight Ottawa Panel
Evidence-Based Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Management of
Osteoarthritis in Adults Who Are Obese or Overweight | Physical Therapy |
Oxford Academic (
3. Strategies for optimizing nutrition and weight reduction in physical therapy
practice: The evidence Strategies for optimizing nutrition and weight reduction in
physical therapy practice: The evidence: Physiotherapy Theory and Practice: Vol
25, No 5-6 (
4. Body mass index and risk of knee osteoarthritis: systematic review and metaanalysis of prospective studies Body mass index and risk of knee osteoarthritis:
systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective studies – PMC (
5. Nutrition: A Portion of PT’s Menu of Services Nutrition: A Portion of PTs’ Menu of
Services | APTA
6. Considerations for PT’s Role in Nutrition Considerations Related to the PT’s Role
in Nutrition and Diet | APTA
7. Nutrition and PT a Powerful Combination – Nutrition and Physical Therapy: A
Powerful Combination | APTA

Get PT First During the COVID-19 Pandemic


Because of the closures of physician’s offices, stoppages of elective surgeries, and social distancing guidelines resulting from COVID-19, many people with pain or joint issues have had appointments or surgeries delayed. If you’re one of them and you haven’t seen your PT yet, you should. Here are some reasons why:

Early PT leads to better outcomes

Studies have shown that people who receive PT sooner have better outcomes, lower costs, are less likely to have surgery, use opioids or have unnecessary testing. Because back pain is so common, there is a lot of outcome data from people with back pain.  A study of 150,000 insurance claims published in Health Services Research, found that those who saw a physical therapist at the first point of care had an 89 percent lower probability of receiving an opioid prescription, a 28 percent lower probability of having advanced imaging services, and a 15 percent lower probability of an emergency department visit. Unfortunately, only 2% of people with back pain start with PT, and only 7% get to PT within 90 days.

Early PT saves money

The rising cost of healthcare is well known and early PT is something that has been shown to reduce costs without reducing the effectiveness of treatment. A study published in the Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy showed that patients who obtained physical therapy via direct access had significantly lower medical costs—an average of $1,543 less per patient than those who chose referral from a physician. They also had significantly fewer visits and spent significantly fewer days in care.

Surgery may not be as effective as you think

Many patients look to surgery as the fix for their pain, but surgeries aren’t always as effective as patients believe. A large study looking at worker’s comp patients with back pain found that people who have surgery have a 1 in 4 chance of having a repeat surgery, a 1 in 3 chance of a major complication, and a 1 in 3 chance of never returning to work again. Recent large studies of arthroscopic surgeries for meniscal tears have shown no difference in outcomes between people who have surgery and those who don’t. Other procedures with questionable effectiveness include kyphoplasty, vertebroplasty, and injections for nonspecific back pain.


So, if you were planning on seeing your PCP or a specialist for an orthopedic condition or pain and you haven’t seen a PT yet, you should consider making PT your first stop. You could end up getting better faster for less money and you might avoid riskier treatments like opioids or surgery.

One Annual Health Checkup That’s Probably Missing from Your Calendar

Some health habits are instilled in us at a young
age. For as long as you can remember, for example, you made annual treks in the family minivan to both the pediatrician and the dentist. As you entered adulthood, you probably transitioned to a primary care physician, and maybe even a different dentist better equipped to address adult needs. Anytime you’ve moved or switched insurance carriers, one of your first priorities has been to track down new providers. Now you may even choose to schedule visits more than once a year, when necessary. You
probably figure that between the two healthcare professionals, all of your health needs are covered, right?

As it turns out, these healthcare professionals aren’t specifically trained to assess your musculoskeletal system, which is comprised of your muscles, bones, cartilage, tendons, ligaments, joints and other connective tissues.
Then who is the right healthcare professional to ensure that
these essential internal structures are working properly and
helping to support, stabilize and move your body? A physical therapist.

At a yearly physical therapy “checkup,” your PT will gather your medical history and observe as you participate in screening tests and other assessments to establish a baseline of your physical abilities, fitness level and personal health. Physical therapists are educated on how your
musculoskeletal system functions properly and are trained to identify dysfunctions before they grow into bigger problems.

To maximize the encounter with your physical therapist, it’s important to be prepared before your appointment. To ensure that you cover everything and address any issues you may be having, make a list that includes:
• Health issues like diabetes or high blood pressure
• Current medications, including supplements
• Physical fitness activities
• New activities you’re considering
• Fitness goals

The information exchange between you and your PT is critical to forming an ongoing relationship, and to ensuring that you’re functioning and moving at top form. By understanding what sports and recreational activities you’re currently participating in and the fitness goals you’re aiming to achieve, your PT will be better prepared to make recommendations and tailor a home exercise program designed to help you achieve your goals.

Making wellness a part of your everyday life and taking steps to ensure that your musculoskeletal system is functioning at top notch can be very empowering
and rewarding. Why not begin—or continue—that journey with a physical therapist? Now that you know how to
prepare for a physical therapy checkup, and understand what you can expect during the appointment, the next step is us today and schedule your annual visit!

Ask a Physical Therapist To “Screen” Your Movements This Spring

Let’s talk about the last time you—or someone close to you—interviewed for a new job. Chances are that the first step was a phone screen with your potential employer, and when you passed that portion of the process with flying colors, you were then invited for an in-person interview. At that stage, the employer probably asked you to answer a series of questions and to demonstrate your skills through a test or two. The process is set up in a way that narrows down the options until the most suitable candidate is found. Makes sense, right?

Just as job recruiters screen applicants to find the best fit for
an open position, your PT will ask you to perform a series of exercises so that she can observe and understand your body
mechanics to uncover any issues or limitations. Used in combination with a full evaluation and assessment, these so-called movement screens are just one tool in identifying the most appropriate treatment or prevention program for you. But unlike that test you may have taken during a job interview, the screen is not testing your skills or abilities, it’s simply a way of identifying how your body functions during a variety of movements.

Now that spring is in full swing, it’s the perfect time of year to make an appointment with a physical therapist for a movement screen. The warmer weather means more time spent outdoors participating in sports and other recreational activities that may be physically demanding. A PT checkup that includes a movement screen will ensure that you’re physically able to engage in popular spring and summer adventures, whether it’s exploring in the woods, tending to your garden, or swimming at your family’s lake house.

Physical therapists perform movement screens for a variety of reasons, including:
• To identify areas of strength and weakness
• To uncover issues or rule them out
• To determine readiness to begin a safe exercise program
• To improve sport performance (for both novice and elite athletes)

A movement screen is something that you can have done whether you have a nagging injury or are simply ready to kick-start your activity level after a long hiatus. Gaining
an understanding of how your body performs during basic exercises such as squats and lunges helps your PT ensure that you can safely jump on a bike or into a pool this summer. And just like an employer screens candidates to identify the one individual who is likely to thrive on the job for many years to come, a movement screen can help you
develop a lasting and fulfilling relationship with the activities you enjoy most.

Call us today to schedule your FREE screening!