Getting the Most Out of your Physical Therapy
Physical therapy can be a daunting prospect for those with injuries, chronic pain, or other conditions affecting mobility, but like most things that require perseverance to succeed, the rewards are worth it.
The best way to prepare for physical therapy sessions is by generating a positive attitude and flexible expectations. There’s nothing wrong with pushing yourself to succeed, but it’s important to remember that the road to recovery isn’t always a straight line. To boost your chances of success, here are 5 tips for getting the most out of your physical therapy sessions:
1. Request the same physical therapist for every session
Consistency is crucial in physical therapy, and it’s not limited to your treatment regimen. If possible, request the same physical therapist for every session so you’re not answering the same questions or trying exercises that have already proven to be ineffective for you personally. Consistency and familiarity will increase your ability to accomplish your goals.
2. Be as descriptive as possible when discussing pain
One of the most important details of your condition that will influence your progress in physical therapy is your specific level and type of pain. A general statement such as “this hurts a lot,” is too vague, and mistakes can be made if you don’t properly communicate about your pain. Your physical therapist will be able to tell you whether a certain pain is natural to the healing process or not, and adjust exercises accordingly. So try using words like throbbing, aching, stabbing, sharp, dull, intermittent, and frequent. Quantifying the level of pain on a scale such as the Likert scale will also help your physical therapist understand more precisely what you’re experiencing.
3. Discuss your goals
Just as physical therapy exercises are highly individualized, so are treatment goals: some patients simply want to return to work, while others hope to eliminate pain or walk without supports. Even if your goal is to run a marathon in the near future, let your therapist know so they can properly manage expectations. It’s also important to be proactive and ask plenty of questions. If you don’t understand why you are doing something or how you should do it, you are more likely to refrain from the exercise and negatively affect your progress. Your physical therapist is there to help. Ask away!
4. Take notes and photos
Physical therapists often provide handouts with diagrams and illustrations for easy reference when doing at-home exercises. But if your therapist doesn’t, it’s a good idea to snap photos of specific positions and variations and take plenty of notes about repetitions, how much pain you should expect, and other vital information for at-home therapy success.
5. Take care of yourself
Ensure you’re alert and strong as possible during your sessions by eating a balanced diet and drinking plenty of water. Proper hydration is always important, but even more so if you’re recovering from an injury. Also, make sure you’re as comfortable as possible by wearing athletic-type clothes, which will allow you the full range of motion in your exercises. Depending on your condition and treatment, your physical therapist might recommend specific attire, such as sneakers that support your ankles or sleeveless shirts for easy access to injured arms.
Ready for recovery? We’re here for you!
At Bella Vista Health Center, we offer an individual patient-centered approach to physical therapy that truly focuses on each person’s needs. If you are recovering from an injury or have a condition requiring physical therapy, contact us today for more information about our services. Or drop by and see us in Lemon Grove. We look forward to serving you.