Physical therapy was another great unknown to come with my injury. I had zero experience, zero frame of reference and zero expectations for what was to come. Now, PT is part of my everyday life, with twice a week sessions and homework to boot. The goal is to get back to running and my normal, active life.
Physical Therapy Is Uncomfortable
There’s no getting around it. PT is uncomfortable. Patients are working body parts that aren’t functioning properly and it’s hard. They say PT shouldn’t hurt, and I feel that isn’t entirely fair, because there are days when it does. Be honest with your therapist and let him know when things are too much or you’re not entirely on board with an exercise. He may still encourage you to get it done (even if you curse him under your breath), but he is there to support you and make sure you accomplish the moves safely.
Physical Therapy Is A Team Effort
The PT’s job and responsibility is to give her clients the tools to improve. However, only so much can be accomplished in a one hour session. In order to move forward in therapy, you must be consistent and work on exercises at home. It’s time-consuming and a pain in the butt, but it’s also the only way to see improvement. Communicate with your PT and ask about modifications to do things at home in between appointments. While things might not every be 100% better, working with your PT definitely stacks in the odds in your favor.
Not All Physical Therapists Are Created Equal
Since the beginning of my PT journey, I have been treated by three different therapists. I have a clear favorite. We seem to relate well to each other and he speaks to me in a way that resonates. When I’m scheduled with my least favorite, it’s a different experience. Mind you, it’s not necessarily negative, but it definitely lacks some of the light heartedness and feels a bit more like work. Nothing wrong with a change of techniques – despite my personal feelings, as long as we are all on the same page, that’s the important thing.
Physical Therapy Can Be Emotional
While this entire experience has been emotional, physical therapy is just one more venue for all the tears and anger and fear. I show up ready to work, and find myself engaged in exercises that terrify me (balancing on my injured leg, for example), or hearing how my progress isn’t quite where my PT would like it to be. I’ve cried with frustration and disappointment. Rage, disappointment and loss have all played a part in my moods. I struggle, but work hard to keep getting back in the saddle. Forward is a pace and progress is the metric on which I’m focused.
Physical Therapy Isn’t Forever
As he prescribed my PT session, my ortho informed me that when I felt PT had stopped being helpful, it was ok to stop. He said that there will come a point where I can run (figuratively, but hopefully literally, too) with the instructions I received and handle my own strengthening. I think I will make this a joint decision with my PT, to ensure that I don’t risk further injury, but it’s nice to have blessing for that autonomy to choose. My plan is to keep going until I have a therapist-approved running gait down pat.
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Have you ever been to Physical Therapy?
How have your experiences measured up?