As a physical therapist, one of my favorite questions I love to ask is: “What are a couple of your short-term goals that WE should be working towards?” Sometimes I get the correct answer but most often I get an incorrect one. Doesn’t mean that their stated goal is totally incorrect but it is incorrect for that period in time. Let me explain.
Most people who arrive to physical therapy do so for a variety of reasons but it usually for 2 main reasons: 1. Pain 2. Because their spouse and/or children will annoy them until they do so! Okay okay maybe #2 is really #3 and #2 is that due to their injury/condition they are unable to perform normal everyday activities or movements. So, do you think that this is the true answer I am given for their short-term goals? Not often enough.
Some of my favorite answers for their short-term goals to be at physical therapy is: I need to lose 10-15 pounds; I am here to get into shape; I need to be able to run in an half-marathon in 2 weeks (as they hobble into the clinic on crutches); or my personal favorite – my doctor said that you (physical therapist) just need to tell me what I need to do, give me “the handouts and rubber-bands” and I won’t have to ever come back! Nice! So as a physical therapist…all I need to do is give out handouts, give patients different colored “rubber-bands”, and my job is done? Now that’s funny!
The true underlying issue isn’t that people have goals but the goals are incorrect for a few reasons. One, physical therapy isn’t for weight loss – it is for helping someone regain their health and independence with movement and activities. Be healthy prior to focusing on your weight. Two, in order to “get into shape” you are assuming that you are healthy. If you were healthy, you wouldn’t be at a physical therapy clinic but at a strength & conditioning facility. *1999 Become healthy before worrying on how you look. No-one ever looks good when in pain and/or moving poorly. Finally, if you are hobbling around on crutches, you shouldn’t worry about running, especially distance, for the immediate time-frame, concern yourself with walking pain-free and correctly. Health needs to trump Performance!
And no, a set of handouts and “rubber-bands” will NOT have you back to health if your condition required you to seek medical advice and treatment from a doctor and a physical therapist. In order to perform movements and rehabilitate correctly, hands-on guidance and supervision is necessary. And peer reviewed research proves it. Ever wonder why cooking shows are so popular? Cooking an intricate meal via a printed recipe can be a challenge but watching someone prepare it makes it so much easier and doable. This is true for performing corrective physical therapy movements.
So on your first visit to a physical therapist or medical provider, have goals! But, you need make sure they are achievable, realistic, appropriate, and the correct time-frame. Don’t be concerned about performance minded activities until you are first healthy and can perform fundamental movements correctly. The combination of simple movements allows one to participate in activities without compensation or causing abnormal symptoms such as pain.
If you are worried about how you look, or can’t perform a high level activity, or think you need to get into this or that shape before addressing the true issue – You Are Going the Wrong Way. Please remember if you are in pain or move incorrectly – get that taken care…Become healthy. If you need guidance or help with becoming healthy without the use of drugs or surgery, please reach out to us. We can help You! Until we chat again, Be Well and…
ps: If you found this *, be the first to call, give the four digit code and you will win a prize. Need to come to the clinic by Tuesday (5/14/19) to claim it in person.
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Now back to your regularly scheduled programming…