One of the reasons my resume stood out when I applied for a job with PTPN years ago was my experience in the healthcare industry. At the time, my work experience was focused on education and media. It was my personal experience in the healthcare world that got me in the door.

As a lifelong dancer (yes, I’m in my 30s and still take dance classes in Manhattan), my knees were doomed from my early teens. By the time I’d applied for the position in California, I’d had two knee surgeries on my right knee, one at 16 and one in the previous year, and had a another surgery while living in Los Angeles. My knowledge of and loyalty to the physical therapy profession was key to taking this job. I am happy to write about the benefits of physical therapy as I’ve seen them first hand — after having to take 4 years off from dancing, I’ve been taking intermediate modern classes for over a year now. I’m well aware that this never would have been possible without the benefits of my rehabilitation and the amazing PTs with whom I worked.

That said, those 4 years were a dark time. Taking time away from your chosen workout or sport — whether for 4 weeks, 4 months or 4 years — is difficult. How do you stay in shape? How do you stay positive? A story in the New York Times on depression after sports injuries inspired me to ask our member PTs about what we can do to avoid that depression and focus instead on rehabilitation and our return to the exercise we love.

What happens when we can’t exercise?

If you exercise regularly, you’ve probably had one of these roadblocks at some point in your life: A sprained ankle that keeps you from running. An illness that keeps you away from the gym. Or a bigger injury that requires rehab or surgery and a rethinking of your entire fitness regime.

When your fitness routine shifts, so does the rest of your day. You may sit more, eat more and possibly gain weight. The lack of endorphins, combined with the changes you see in the mirror, don’t help your situation. It’s not unusual to get depressed when this happens.

So how can you try to take control of your body and continue to stay fit despite that injury or illness? Mitch Kaye, PT, recommends that if you have an injury, the first stop is to see your doctor or a healthcare professional. He warns against self-diagnosis and adds that your physical therapist is the ideal expert to recommend low-impact exercises that can be continued with an injury; a PT’s unique training, along with knowledge of how the injury occurred, is key to prescribing the best recovery exercises.

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