Dad Strength – Reflecting on Health and Wellness this Father’s Day

men and their children at play

This week is a big one! With Father’s Day this Sunday we wanted to reach out to all the dads out there, along with those who are celebrating the dads in their lives – whether near or far.

Each year, the entire month of June is dedicated to Men’s Health and the week leading up to Father’s Day is celebrated as International Men’s Health Week. It’s the perfect time then for us to spotlight an important aspect of health that is not necessarily the first thing that comes to mind — stress management and self-care.

Typically, we see our patients who are parents doing a great job scheduling their work time and commitments, kids’ activities and kids’ social events, but they often forget to consider their own social time, time that is dedicated to decompressing from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

While many patient stories come to mind, one that is particularly relatable revolves around a dad who we will call Jared. 

Jared had been dealing with chronic back pain for five years before he decided to try physical therapy. As a busy working professional who managed a team of engineers, Jared was balancing work life with dad life with two kids ages 8 and 6.  

Jared had always been active; he was a distance runner in high school and continued to run recreationally throughout college and into his adult life. He had initially injured his back after his first child was born. The injury resulted from the simple move of lifting his baby out of a low crib. At 6 feet 5 inches tall, that was all it took in that moment.

a young dad has active play time with his two kids in a playful wrestling type of engagement

At that point in life, Jared felt he was too busy to seek out medical care, and instead he watched YouTube videos for tips, took plenty of ibuprofen, used ice and heat, and tried massage therapy. All of this helped but never got rid of his pain.  

With having two young children, no extended family nearby to help with the kids, a spouse who also works outside of the home, and a lot of job stress, Jared let his hobbies and outside relationships fade into the background.

While Jared loves his family, his work, and his exercise routine of running, working out, and some stretching and yoga, he found himself struggling with stress management and confided that his time never “felt like his own.”  

In PT we help people navigate musculoskeletal injuries and aches and pains, and while the majority of what we do is related to strengthening, stretching and mobility, we also lead patients through other challenges of physical health, including:

  1. Stress management 
  2. Sleep hygiene and quality 
  3. Nutrition 
 

While working with Jared, we found he did a great job with items 2 and 3, but with all of his life stressors, he had lost touch with a major stress management tool he had utilized before having kids —SOCIALIZATION! 

physical therapist talks to a patient during an initial appointment

As parents it can be incredibly helpful to have time with other adults where you don’t have to constantly have your head on a swivel looking after your littles.

Here are some examples of things that can really help our working dads who find themselves in Jared’s shoes: 

couple out for date night
  • Date night with the wife once per month. 
  • A weekend trip every 3-6 months with friends, spouse, or sibling doing something you love. 
  • Going out for a work or team event right after work before heading home to handle your responsibilities there. 
  • Doing a workout with a friend or significant other to “kill two birds with one stone.”  

Jared had missed one-on-one time with his wife and the fun they had together prior to kids as well as opportunities to go out for a beer with some of his friends from college. While we worked on the physical aspect of his lower back pain, Jared did a great job putting our advice in place when it came to his nutrition and sleep hygiene. However, his stress management as a parent and working professional still needed some work. Jared was committed.

After 3 months of working with our physical therapy team, Jared said his back felt “100 percent,” and he was back to running and working out like he had been before having kids. 

More importantly, he felt his life was “more under control” and he was having “more fun” despite none of his responsibilities going away or decreasing. Jared had simply learned to take time for himself, to decompress and manage his stress.

For those of us in physical therapy, there is no greater feeling of accomplishment than being able to help someone with their pain and with getting back to the things they love. This Father’s Day, we hope all the dads out there take the time to reflect on their health and well-being, and if anything is bothering you, your local Therapeutic Associates PT can help!

man plays soccer with child

Start your physical therapy journey today.

As physical therapists, we know the importance of movement for overall health and well-being. From injury recovery to achieving optimal performance, our passion is to help every patient reach their goals and live an active, pain-free life. Get started with PT today!

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