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Debunking the Myth that Physical Therapy Doesn’t Work!

Updated: Apr 10, 2023

At least 1 time per month for the length of my career I have been told that a person had physical therapy in the past and it didn’t work for them or it wasn’t worth their time. When I dig a little deeper to find out why or what happened in their experience, I learn why it didn’t work for them and how it can and should work for you!

There are many articles stating the high success rates with the use of physical therapy, especially the use of hands-on techniques and when compared to general physician care or surgery. Follow along to see why physical therapy might be the best option for you.

What Hasn’t PT Worked in the Past…and Why?

The most common reasons clients say their previous physical therapy didn’t work includes:

  • I can do my PT from home,

  • My PT didn’t seem to understand the movements I need to play my sport,

  • The exercises were basic, not sport-specific,

  • My PT didn’t even pay attention to me, and

  • There were so many other patients in there, they couldn’t pay attention to me.

Once they get a chance to work with me they realize that none of these reasons are the case and your physical therapy shouldn’t look like any of them.

If you feel like you can do your exercises from home right from the start, then you aren’t being challenged enough, OR you’re possibly doing the exercises incorrectly. The ultimate goal with your physical therapy should be to be independent in your exercise program and managing your pain/preventing the return of pain, however, you shouldn’t feel that way from the start. I like to assess your mobility, strength, etc and then provide exercises that address your deficits that are playing a part in your pain. These exercises should be a challenge and require cuing from your physical therapist until you master them and then move on to something more challenging.

Not every physical therapist is/was an athlete. Some may not be athletic at all or understand sports and the movements necessary to play them. They can still be effective; however, if you are looking to return to your sport at a high level and the physical therapist is not helping you progress back to that, then you aren’t getting the maximal benefit from the sessions. As an athlete myself, I have played sports at every level and continue to play volleyball in coed and women's leagues. The benefit of working with a physical therapist that is an athlete is, I not only understand different movements, but also the mindset of an athlete and what it takes to get to where you want.

There is nothing wrong with receiving your physical therapy in a clinic or using your health insurance to pay for it, but keep in mind that the majority of clinics that accept insurances have to see several patients per day in order to meet standards, get enough in reimbursement, and be able to keep their clinics up and running. So you will more than likely always be one of a few patients that each physical therapist is seeing at once. You will typically get a few minutes of one-on-one attention and then be expected to work through some exercises by yourself or with the assistance of a technician. When we work together, your sessions are always one-on-one, unless you request otherwise, and include a lot of hands-on instruction to make sure you are using the correct muscles and postures and your muscles and joints are moving correctly to allow for pain free movement.

If you aren’t receiving the type of physical therapy described above then you need to schedule a consultation with me so that we can discuss your goals and how we could work together to accomplish them.

The Physical Therapist or Clinic Isn’t Always to Blame.

A huge part of physical therapy is learning how to manage your pain and train your body to move differently through stretching, strengthening, posture, and body awareness. By the end of your episode of physical therapy you should be independent in knowing how to move your body, what muscles to contract, and how to complete your home exercise program correctly in order to maintain and/or progress your progress.

In a sentence, this isn’t a one-sided treatment. In order to see gains and meet your goals, you also have to participate and follow the recommendations of the physical therapist regularly and begin to incorporate these things into your life/sport.

So don’t go blaming your physical therapy as not being effective, if you didn’t do your part! Remember, you are looking to accomplish long-term results. You shouldn’t want to see your physical therapist every year for the same thing. Learn how you can manage it and prevent the return of pain or further injury.

Do You Fall into Any of These Categories?

Have you failed physical therapy in the past? Did you not meet your goals or get relief from your pain? Let’s talk about it! You can schedule a No-Charge phone consultation by clicking here. The first step is discussing what you have going on and seeing what the next best step is for you. Start your new year on a positive foot!

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