#5. Your Physical Therapist Does not think outside the Box
How many of you have gone to your Physical Therapist, and they put you through the same routine of silly band work, Ice, Heat, or 3-pound dumbbells’ for months? Every time you go, it’s the same thing with no progression or increase in strength. This may come as a shocker, but there is no “magic” movement or easy stretch that will make you get better. If this looks like your typical Therapy session, it’s time to escape.
Not only will this type of Therapy bore you to death, but it is also inhibitory towards your progress. A cookie-cutter approach to therapy is never good for the individual. Each person should be given a custom program specifically designed for their particular needs—unfortunately, there any many lazy and unmotivated people in this world. Every career is filled with them, including Physical Therapists.
#4. Your Physical Therapist Uses too many Modalities
Modalities are the lazy Therapists outlet. They have very specific instances where it is valid to use them. In those instances, modalities should be used. For the vast majority of the time, modalities should take a back seat to actually effective treatments like and -based therapies. There is very little evidence or none at all to justify the chronic use of Modalities.
If your therapist uses modalities such as Heat, Cold, Ultrasound, E-Stim every session with little emphasis placed upon Therapeutic Exercise or Manual therapy, it’s time to find a new PT. It is a waste of your time to count on a Therapist that overuses these techniques.
#3. Your Physical Therapist Is too Beholden to Doctor protocols
Doctors are not the be all end all. Their protocol does not have to be followed like the Bible. Post-surgical Protocols are generally a conservative estimate of the timelines of your average patients. Many times they are based around patients that take the longest amount of time to heal from. This is done purposefully to reduce the risk of re-injury. While we do not want our patients to hurt themselves, we also do not want to hold them back from what they want to do if it is safe to do so. It is a fine line, and it is our job to find that line.
Each patient should be treated according to what they are capable of. How will we know what they are capable of if we don’t try. Don’t be reckless, but don’t be scared to ask a little more of them than the time before. Just a little. Small gains, every session, add up to large gains over time. Don’t let the patient stagnate just because the protocol says they are a month away from strength training. Find what they can do and meet them there.
#2. Your Physical Therapist is Too Scared to make you work hard
An appropriate stimulus (exercise) must be placed upon an injured tissue to improve the body’s healing rate. It is your therapist’s primary task to help your body do its job. An appropriate stimulus is not so heavy that it will injure you, but also not so light that it does nothing. If your therapist does not have an expert understanding of how to perform an exercise they are prescribing to you; how can they possibly know what you are capable of.
The vast majority of my patients are much stronger than they think they are. They don’t have the experience of pushing themselves physically. They have not explored the actual limits of what their body is capable of. My job is to place your body in a biomechanically correct position; understand what load your muscles and ligaments are capable of lifting, and then make you lift it. Anything less than what you are capable of is doing you a disservice.
#1. Your Physical Therapist doesn’t Practice what they preach
The bedrock of most modern-day Physical Therapy practice is centered upon Therapeutic Exercise. The vast majority of Physical Therapists suck at coaching exercise. The reason is simple. They do not exercise themselves. They don’t know what it feels like to get after it and work hard physically. How can you teach a highly technical activity to a patient if you do not actually know how to do it yourself? The answer is you cannot.
Take Karate, for example; it would be impossible for someone to be a Karate Master and not go through all the personal training and sparring required to teach their students competently. Expertise is an ongoing process that you must work at daily. Physical Therapists are supposed to be experts in human movement and exercise. You would think we would practice our craft more than we do.
Share some of your good or bad experiences with your Physical Therapist in the comments below!!
- #5 – Physical Therapists can be lazy and create cookie-cutter treatments for patients that need individual plans.
- #4 – Modalities such as Heat, Cold, E-Stim, and Ultrasound are mostly useless except for specific circumstances.
- #3 – Dr’s protocols for their patients are general guidelines for treatment in most cases. They are not God, do not treat their protocols like the Bible.
- #2 – Underworking a patient because you are scared of hurting them is as bad as overworking them.
- #1 – Your Physical Therapist cannot be an expert in human movement or instruct you on performing exercises if they do not regularly exercise themselves.