The Importance of Hand Washing in Physical Therapy

As the cooler months approach and the seasons change, cold & flu season begins to develop. Luckily, there are a variety of ways one can prevent sickness for one’s self in addition to preventing the spread of sickness to others. Simple suggestions include avoiding contact with individuals who are sick, staying home if sickness develops, avoiding touching the face, nose, and mouth, and covering nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing. One of the simplest ways to prevent sickness includes a task often overlooked: correct hand washing.

Taking the time to properly hand wash is one of the easiest ways to prevent getting sick. According to the Centers for Disease Control, preventing sickness reduces the amount of antibiotics people use and the likelihood that antibiotic resistance will develop. Hand-washing alone can prevent about 30% of diarrhea-related sicknesses and about 20% of respiratory infections. Unfortunately, most people do not take the necessary time to thoroughly wash their hands. This includes rubbing hands together with soap for at least 30 seconds (or the equivalent to singing “Happy Birthday” twice). Taking the proper amount of time to lather hands will ultimately reduce the number of microbes to ones hands. An additional tip includes taking the time to scrub not just the palms of the hands, but also the backs of hands and underneath fingernails. These areas often get neglected but have the capacity to carry just as much bacteria. Another important suggestion includes thoroughly drying hands after washing because germs are more likely to spread on wet surfaces.


Most common sicknesses could easily be prevented if correct precaution is taken. If you think about the amount of things one touches throughout the day, it is no wonder hand-to-hand contact is one of the easiest ways we pick-up and ultimately spread germs. Keeping this in mind, proper hand-washing should become a priority to everyone this cold and flu season.


Naturally, hand washing is an activity that most physical therapists know not to neglect! Because we interact with so many patients throughout the day, we always want to make sure to be fresh for everyone coming through our doors.


Here’s the guide that we use for our offices:

physical therapy hand washing