There is zero need for you to wait until your back has been pulled wrong to stop by to see your physical therapist.

There is no doubt that physical therapists generally work on healing injured people by assisting their client’s body in the relearning of proper movement patterns, but there’s more to the job than that. While they carry out muscle strengthening exercises to improve mobility for those who come to them in pain, adding a physical therapy session onto your annual checkup schedule is a great means of preventative care.

Karen Joubert, D.P.T. is a physical therapist in Beverly Hills who sees patients regularly as part of their wellness checkup. “People come see us after surgery or sprained ankles or prehab before surgery, but the more interesting thing is that I have patients who are getting into their 30s and 40s and are realizing, ‘Wow, I want to live longer, maybe have a family. And I don’t want to have to be hunched over or have back surgery. How can I prevent that?’” she said.

Jennifer Aniston and Cara Delevingne both come to Joubert to improve the posture and overall body awareness. When working with singers, Joubert usually assists them in improving breathing through their diaphragm. These physical therapy sessions aren’t limited to celebrities. Those fitness buffs who need to know how to protect themselves during workouts drop by for help too.

Even your surgeon might refer you to P.T. before they send you under the knife. Michael H. Rieber, M.D., F.A.C.S. is the chief of the Joint Institute of Saint Barnabas Medical Center, but even he doesn’t want to cut into his patients’ joints right away. “Surgery is plan Z,” he says. When it comes to tears that will not heal on their own, Rieber will perform surgery but, even then, he still recommends prehab. “Doing prehab before surgery can only help you after surgery,” Rieber says.

Before you take on a new activity, it would be wise to swing by your physical therapist’s office to get tips on approaching it safely and even checking your gear. You wouldn’t want to hit your first half marathon in the wrong shoes for your feet, especially if you have flat feet.

Physical therapy isn’t all exercise though. Even those who sit at a desk all day need a little fluff and buff on their muscles from time to time. Dan Giordano, D.P.T., C.S.C.S. takes care of it all. Sometimes what begins as a soft tissue massage to work out tightness can show misalignment in a client. It is not uncommon for preventative care to reveal underlying issues. “Getting an evaluation can expose things,” Giordano says. “Something might not be a problem now but depending on how it’s presenting, we may want to start working on it before it becomes an issue.” It’s important to listen to your body. Those cracks and creaks you hear might not be so normal. It’s never a bad idea to hit the P.T. every once in awhile for some T.L.C. on your body.

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