Have you been to physical therapy before but didn’t quite get the result you were hoping for? Are you currently in physical therapy or planning to start, and want to make sure you get the most out of it? Some of these tips may seem like common sense, but in my experience, these I’ve learned I need to tell people!
Actually see a physical therapist
Seeing a massage therapist, personal trainer, or strength and conditioning coach is not the same thing as seeing a physical therapist/going to physical therapy. We love these professionals and work with them all the time, but we all serve different purposes and cannot be substitutes for each other!
Your primary care physician or orthopedist are not physical therapists. Being given a generic printout of exercises by them is not physical therapy! It is simply that - a generic printout of exercises.
Go to more than 1 or 2 appointments
This is really important - just as being given a generic list of exercises isn’t physical therapy (see above), even being given a customized list of exercises just once isn’t physical therapy. Physical therapy involves ongoing assessment, progressions of exercises and stretches, and goal setting as a team. At the very least this takes a good handful of sessions!
Do your home exercises
…more than once or twice the morning of your appointment ;) Physical therapy doesn’t work unless YOU do the work!
I get it, sometimes these exercises can seem boring or tedious, especially in the beginning stages of physical therapy. But, there is a reason why they were prescribed to you! So, make sure you understand why they were given to you, how they should feel, how frequently to do them.
Make sure the home routine is actually realistic for you - equipment/space that you can access, and a doable amount of exercises for your life. Communicate with your physical therapist about this!
Make sure your physical therapist is clear on your goals
Take some time to think about why these are important to you too!
Goals keep us motivated and give us a more clear picture of what we are trying to work toward
Goals play a huge role in the treatment plan - at later stages of rehab, the exercise program for a runner with knee pain who wants to run a half marathon will look different than a power lifter with knee pain who has a competition coming up this summer, or from a yoga instructor with knee pain who wants to teach 3 classes a day. Different people → different goals → different process
Expect setbacks and hiccups along the way…and trust the process
Even if everything seems to be going perfectly, this is normal! Progress is rarely linear, because we don’t live in a bubble.
Remember that progress can be defined in many ways - being able to complete an exercise more easily, not being as sore for as long after exercise, pain not occurring as quickly or as frequently, and better flexibility are all different examples of progress!
We hope you find these tips helpful! If you’re still on the hunt for personalized rehab focused on YOUR goals that’s not just a quick fix, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org!