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Can Physical Therapy Help With Weight Loss? Your Questions Answered

October 18th, 2021 | 5 min. read

Can Physical Therapy Help With Weight Loss? Your Questions Answered
James Ingram

James Ingram

Licensed Physical Therapist, PT DPT // EW Motion Therapy Homewood

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According to the CDC, 42.4% of American adults are obese, and extra weight can lead to many preventable health problems.  Many overweight adults are nervous about receiving medical treatment because they have experienced stigmatization from multiple medical professionals. Physical therapy is no exception - some physical therapists use a patient’s weight as a scapegoat to take the blame for every underlying issue. It is unfortunate for anyone to experience this way of thinking, and if this is a part of your story, we can reassure you that you are not alone.

A good physical therapist can help you move more throughout the day with less pain, and will incorporate advice on sleep, nutrition, and recovery into your program. They will prioritize you as a person and not just your number on the scale. If one of your goals is to lose weight and you’re considering physical therapy, we understand you may have reservations around the process. To help assuage some of your anxiety, we are answering some common questions about how physical therapy can help you move better and therefore feel better.

Knowing these answers will give you confidence as you start a physical therapy treatment and give you hope for living the life you have imagined.


Do I have to be in shape to get physical therapy? 

You do NOT have to be at your ideal weight to get physical therapy treatment. Often, people who are overweight are the ones who need physical therapy the most. Many people with chronic conditions or injuries find themselves in a vicious cycle: pain while being active causing them to gain weight due to their lack of daily activity. They become fearful to move because of the pain - pain becomes the limiting factor, not movement.


A good therapist can help you overcome your fear of pain with movement and become the centerpiece in managing other factors of your health. They will look at your body holistically and figure out a solution to get you moving again, not dismiss your issues as entirely related to your weight. They will develop a treatment plan to strengthen your affected areas and help you lose weight in the long run. 


A sustainable nutrition plan can also help with weight loss. Learn more about habit-based nutrition plans here.


Can physical therapy help with weight loss? 

Physical therapy can help with weight loss in that a therapist can address chronic issues that may be contributing to your weight gain. By addressing movement issues, your therapist can help you feel more confident in being active. Current research demonstrates that increased movement throughout the day leads to significant health improvements, so it is imperative that your therapist helps you to get moving.  


The real work of a lifestyle change is implementing a comprehensive health plan outside of the clinic, which would include not only workouts but changes in your diet and other health strategies. During your physical therapy sessions, your therapist will address movement dysfunction and provide you with a sustainable progression to increase tolerance over time. The ultimate goal is for you to move more throughout the day.

We want to be very clear: weight loss is difficult, and physical therapy is not a magic pill that fixes everything. But having a great physical therapist in your corner can empower and motivate you toward achieving your goals.

Successfully losing weight is all about a lifestyle change, not just a series of temporary crash diets or the latest workout fad. When you can move better, you can be better equipped to take your journey into your own hands and see sustainable results.


How does a personal trainer help clients? 

We first need to distinguish between the responsibilities of a physical therapist and those of a personal trainer. A trainer's goal is to increase your fitness level, possibly including weight loss. Doctors of physical therapy are trained not only to promote health, wellness, and fitness but also to rehabilitate injuries and painful movement patterns when they occur. 


At their core, physical therapists and certified personal trainers are working with their clients in a wellness or fitness setting to promote increased healthy movement and wellbeing. 


Curious about how personal training could help you reach your goals? Download our self-assessment by clicking the button below.

Click here for our Personal Training Assessment!


How can I feel better now, without a therapist? 

If you are able to move without pain, getting in a good routine of walking the dog or cleaning your house can be a good start. The most important part is to just get moving


You do not have to go to the gym to get movement into your day. Physical activity can improve your mental health just as much as your physical health, so you should feel happier and have more energy as well. 


If you are nervous to move because movement is painful, a visit to your physical therapist can be the perfect place to start. They will be able to implement a treatment plan that can decrease pain, increase your confidence in movement, and get you moving more throughout the day. 


How can I continue my journey to feeling better?

Now you know more about how physical therapy can help you move and feel better. A great physical therapist can educate you further about the benefits of consistent movement.

If you’re considering physical therapy, we have made a list of qualities you should look for in a physical therapist that can help you find the best coach and cheerleader. If you are still unsure about the benefits of physical therapy, we understand, and we invite you to read our article on how physical therapy works to assuage some of your anxiety around the process.


At EW Motion Therapy, patient education is the backbone of our business. We see patients of every size and want to help everyone move, feel, and live better. Our people strive to break the weight stigma in physical therapy and evaluate you as a human being first. If EW Motion Therapy sounds like the right place for your physical therapy treatment, you can fill out our Request an Appointment form, and someone from our staff will contact you within 48 hours with your next steps. 


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