Ask a PT: Do I need to stop my normal fitness while doing SWORD?
As a physical therapist working with active people who are also SWORD members, it's only a matter of time before I get asked: “Do I have to stop training or working out while doing this program?”
The short answer is “not necessarily.”
Exercise has proven health benefits, including keeping you slimmer, and strengthening your heart and endurance. It can boost your mood and improve your sleep habits. The American Heart Association and the CDC recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity and strength training each week.
As a PT helping patients to achieve better health, it’s my duty to promote exercise on a daily basis. Through the SWORD program, I also help our members tackle their pain in a safe and effective way — while keeping them active as well.
People often seek our help when their pain becomes a regular occurrence or hindrance in their everyday lives. When this is the case, continuing with their usual workout routines without guidance from a licensed physical therapist can lead to increased risk of injury and a longer recovery time.
But that doesn’t mean you have to stop completely!
Sometimes, it may be appropriate to take a break from your other workouts while you focus on healing and becoming pain-free. In other cases, your physical therapist may recommend a reduced or alternative workout routine to compliment your SWORD program. And some patients may not need to change their routine at all.
Think of physical therapists as movement experts who have the knowledge and experience to review your current routine and advise you if it’s appropriate to continue and at what capacity. Since the SWORD program is delivered virtually in the comfort of your own home and can be done at your own pace, it’s an excellent companion to your current exercise routine in most cases.
Let’s dig into this a bit more. Movement analysis, exercise prescription, and education are all tools we use to provide an appropriate and goal-oriented program.
Whether you are lifting weights in the gym or doing the latest yoga routine, every exercise you perform has a specific movement pattern. But if it’s not done correctly, it can lead to injury. Proper performance and motor control are essential to getting back to your normal workout without increasing injury risk. That’s one way we can help.
When defining your exercise program, we take into account many factors, which can be grouped into three main areas:
- Specificity: Your program and exercises will be tailored to your work, home and recreational demands, as well as address your specific areas of concern and medical history.
- Progression: As you progress, so will your exercises. We want to see a gradual increase in intensity so your body learns to adapt and becomes stronger.
- Variety: If you have been training hard to reach a fitness goal, chances are you have developed a routine. The SWORD program introduces variety into your workout by focusing on novel exercises and working on different muscle groups that can be easily neglected.
Our knowledge of proper movement, injury prevention and musculoskeletal conditions can save you a lot of time sifting through Dr. Google’s endless (and often conflicting) recommendations.Safe participation in physical activity is our goal. We want you to feel empowered when you’re exercising and know that your body is capable of achieving great things.
So let’s outsmart pain together. Work closely with your SWORD physical therapist to understand if your exercise routine is safe to continue or needs to be modified in any way for optimal recovery.
About the author: Ashley Bass, PT, DPT
Ashley Bass is a licensed physical therapist with a background in orthopedic rehab to include chronic pain, joint replacements, and temporomandibular disorders. Ashley is a classically trained dancer who found a passion for physical therapy after a car crash halted her performing arts career. Based on this background, she loves to explore movement with her patients and have them find the grace and beauty of functional mobility.
Ashley earned her Doctorate in physical therapy from the University of Maryland, School of Medicine. She also holds a Bachelor in Science degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in Exercise and Sports Science.
Presently, Ashley lives in Northern Virginia with her husband, and dog. They are self-proclaimed foodies and love exploring new restaurants around the city in search of the perfect bite. When not eating, both enjoy working out and weight lifting.