After surgery or an injury, most patients see physical therapy as something they have to survive and go though in order to feel better. And it is easy to fall into this mindset. Physical therapy can be time-consuming and a bit painful, so focusing on the outcome can help you get through. However, your goal should not just be to survive physical therapy, but to thrive in physical therapy and get as much out of it as possible. Here are some ways you can thrive in physical therapy.
You don't want to find yourself at home, trying to do the exercises your therapist prescribed, but unsure of how to do them. So, during your appointment, make sure you ask questions whenever they come up. If you're not sure whether something should hurt, ask. If you're not sure if you're bending far enough, ask. If you're wondering whether you can do a few more reps if you feel able, then ask. As in most scenarios, there are no silly questions. Physical therapists do their best to give you clear information, but they can't predict everything you're wondering about unless you bring it up.
Wear the right clothing.
Try to wear workout clothing and supportive shoes, such as sneakers or running shoes, to your physical therapy appointment. This will help you move around better as you complete your exercises. It will also help your physical therapist better determine what you're capable of. They won't be wondering, for instance, whether you really can't bend your leg any further or if your pants are just getting in the way.
Don't push yourself too hard at home.
You need to do your "homework" if you want to thrive in physical therapy. But you also have to avoid any urges to push yourself too far. If you do push yourself too hard, you may be too sore or tired to get the most out of your next physical therapy session. You may even re-injure yourself. If your therapist tells you to do 10 reps of an exercise, do 10 reps — not 20 or 30.
Stay on top of your pain relief.
If your doctor has prescribe a pain reliever, make sure you are taking it as prescribed. In most cases, you will have been prescribed an NSAID, which is a type of pain reliever that keeps inflammation down as well as pain. Keeping inflammation and pain under control will make you better able to perform your physical therapy exercises, both during your session and at home.
Your goal in physical therapy should not just be to survive. It should be to thrive. The difference mostly lies in the effort you put in, directly via the recommendations above.