A diagnosis of cancer is a scary, life-changing event. You may be unsure of what will happen to you, what treatments will be used, and how your body will react to those treatments.
A couple of great ways to stay as healthy as possible is through a good diet and exercise. However, exercise can be tricky if you’ve not done it before or haven’t done it while ill from treatments.
It is advisable that you work with someone who is knowledgeable about your condition and can work with your treatment team on what physical activities are best for you.
This is where advanced physical therapy comes in. Under the watchful eye of a trained physical therapist, you can build your endurance and strength while actively fighting your illness.
Read more to see how you can benefit from advanced physical therapy while undergoing treatments like radiation or chemo.
Fitness and Exercise
When your body becomes ill with cancer, a lot of things can happen, usually one of the first being fatigue. When you are constantly tired, there seems to be no time or energy for you to work out and stay fit.
To combat reduced fitness, endurance, and muscle strength that comes with a cancer diagnosis, you may need advanced physical therapy. On top of fighting the mentioned issues, you may also regain some range of motion, and fight the lack of energy that often accompanies treatment.
When finding a physical therapist, be sure they are familiar with your situation and are capable of treating someone who has a cancer diagnosis. Ask friends and family for referrals, and check to see what types of therapy are offered.
As with any medical condition, it’s recommended to clear any types of additional treatments with your doctor before beginning.
It’s no secret that exercise and diet can help pull people out of a depression by releasing chemicals like dopamine and serotonin in the brain. This is also true for cancer patients.
There is a lot of uncertainty about cancer and treatment, your life has changed before your eyes. This can be anxiety-inducing. Getting your blood pumping or even having the benefit of manual therapy can ease the stress and worry.
Patients with better mental health are less likely to be readmitted to the hospital for complications. Depression and anxiety can also increase the stress hormone, cortisol which can lower your body’s ability to fight infection.
Advanced Physical Therapy- Not Physical Trainer
Some patients may be hesitant about throwing vigorous exercise into their daily routine. However, the fact is, advanced physical therapy will take your fitness level into consideration, even with your current diagnosis and treatments.
Your therapist will effectively teach you proper stretching techniques and work with you to increase your cardiovascular endurance with short walks and other simple, yet efficient exercises.
Exercise can be scary to get into, especially if you’re in pain. However, the best benefit of using advanced physical therapy is the fact that you are using a physical therapist, not a physical trainer.
Their motive and goal are to help you improve fitness while being SAFE and coordinating with your doctors to see what is best for you–not turning you into a model to make them look like better trainers.
Another benefit of using a physical therapist is that they can work with your doctors and teach you what you can and cannot do with the medications you are currently on.
Radiation to the chest and certain chemo drugs can affect your lungs and heart making it difficult or even dangerous to exercise if not properly supervised.
Some people may not like the way their pain medications make them feel or worry about developing a dependency on them. Luckily, advanced physical therapy can help ease a lot of the pain associated with a cancer diagnosis and treatment thereafter.
Managing pain with physical therapy does not just mask the problem. It heals it more permanently. Advanced physical therapy also doesn’t come with the negative side effects associated with muscle relaxers and pain relievers.
It might not be possible to be completely medication free during your cancer treatment, but it is very possible to manage pain and discomfort better so you can enjoy life a bit more (remember that serotonin!)
The Circle of Sickness
You’ve read through some benefits of advanced physical therapy, now let’s connect the dots:
A cancer diagnosis and treatment often lead to fatigue. Chronic fatigue can lead to a lack of desire and interest in daily activities because no one wants to get out of the house while feeling dead on their feet.
A lack of desire and interest to do anything can, unfortunately, lead to depression.
Depression can make it easier for you to get sick and remain in the hospital due to elevated levels of cortisol.
And finally depending on what medications doctors put you on and if you’re in a lot of pain, you may become dependent on pain management medicine.
And these pain medicines and extra illnesses lead back to… you guessed it!
Less Can Be More
A long, slow walk might sound a tad bit boring, especially if you maintained a higher fitness level before your diagnosis. But something as simple as a walk can do the body a lot of good.
The goal isn’t to be the next model, it’s to recover and get well.
If you find yourself with the scary diagnosis of cancer, remember that there are plenty of doctors, nurses, and even mental health specialists who are trained and able to help you.
Focusing on all aspects of getting healthy with help you beat this disease, and it can begin with advanced physical therapy under the watchful eye of a caring professional at North Boulder Physical Therapy.
If you have questions about what we do or would like to schedule an appointment or consultation, give us a call. We have 2 offices in Boulder, as well as locations in Golden and Westminster. Our team is ready to help you!