While physical therapy is an essential part of one’s recovery from an injury or management of chronic pain, many people dread going into the sessions with their physical therapist. It’s understandable to feel intimidated or nervous about this period, because you may be in pain and it hurts to exercise certain muscles, or you simply view this time as an inconvenience or get frustrated with a lack of progress. In fact, approximately 25 percent of patients don’t complete their physical therapy programs.
To avoid burnout and get the intended results from your physical therapy program, you will have to stick it out through all the sessions, even when you feel ready to quit. Here are six tips for making the most out of your physical therapy sessions; if you follow this advice, you will come to see the therapeutic and restorative benefits of physical therapy sessions and hopefully be able to approach them with confidence and determination.
1. Show up on time- You’re only doing yourself a disservice if you show up late to your sessions. You are wasting the time of your physical therapist but, more importantly, you’re missing out on valuable time leading to your recovery which will slow up the process.\
2. Be detailed and honest- It’s essential that you be honest with your physical therapist and tell them exactly how much pain you’re in as you complete the exercises, as well as the type of pain you’re experiencing so that they can understand your abilities and won’t overwork you. Think of adjectives to describe the type of pain you’re in before you arrive at the session and take note of how you feel during. For instance, is the pain sharp, mild, throbbing, achy, etc. and does it hurt more when you move a certain way?
3. Take notes- Your physical therapist will probably throw a lot of information at you and ask you a lot of questions, so it can difficult to remember everything. Bring a notepad and write away so that you can remember the exercises to practice them on your own and to write down any advice. You’ll want to ask any questions you have, so it also helps to write down the answers.
4. Listen to your PT- Don’t try to take the easy way out and fudge your way through some of the exercises or skip the ones that are too difficult. Your physical therapist assigned them to you for a reason. You may feel that he or she is pushing you past your limit, but remember that they are the expert and know what’s best for you.
5. Give your full effort- In a similar vein, always give the sessions your full effort. Even if you feel like you’re not doing the exercise right or it’s difficult to manage, just do the best you can with what your physical therapist assigns you and it should get a little easier every time on your road to recovery.
6. Take your time- No one really enjoys their time spent in recovery. You’re probably itching to get back to being active and doing whatever it is you enjoy doing, but realize that recovery takes time. If you try to take on more than you can handle and speed up the timeframe of your physical therapy sessions, you could risk causing further injury to yourself.