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, 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 screenings, tests, and other assessments to establish a baseline of your physical abilities, fitness levels, and personal health. Physical therapists are educated on how your musculoskeletal system functions 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

• • Health and fitness goals

The information exchange between you and your PT is critical to forming an ongoing relationship, and for ensuring that you’re functioning and moving at your best. By understanding any limitations you may have, what sports and recreational activities you’re currently participating in, and any 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 to call and schedule your annual visit.