So you’ve had an evaluation with your physical therapist and you feel pretty good about what’s to come. You’re feeling some new things and wondering what’s normal and what’s not…Here are 5 tips to trust the process and get the most out of your PT after the initial evaluation. I bet nobody told you this first one…
1. You MAY be sore. You’ll move better…but you could be sore.
You should NOT be in more of the same pain. It’s important to differentiate the two. Likely you’ve had range of motion open up that you haven’t seen in awhile, maybe even years.
Expect soreness to peak 24-48 hours after your evaluation. This is normal and called Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (affectionately, DOMS). It is even normal-ish to have it up to 7 days after your initial session, but if it lasts that long, it means we need to scale back a pinch. Make sure to tell me if this is the case. Everything can be scaled back or progressed as needed. You solve soreness by…moving more!
This is why I teach everyone who comes to see me a self care and home exercise routine. Daily attention to your mobility helps relieve soreness. You want to create a “pump” through the muscles to help it filter out the byproducts of muscle metabolism. Rest assured…soreness does mean improvement is to come.
2. When you feel better is an individual process, but frequently can take up to 3 visits (often more if you’ve been in pain for a long time) to see benefit.
The evaluation gets the physical therapist crystal clear on what needs to addressed, but the dosing and most effective/efficient mix can still need to be refined.
Make sure you communicate any increase in pain or excess soreness to me. The more information I have, the better chance I have at nailing it in fewer visits.
3. Stay consistent, stay the course.
Put in the work, see the results. As simple as that. You should NOT stop physical therapy or think that you’re fixed if you’re pain free. I’ve only gotten rid of the annoying part, but that’s not enough time for the FIX.
Rely on me to give you focus on what to work on, but you need to take ownership of your body for lasting results.
4. If you don’t understand something, simply ask.
Physical Therapists talk A LOT! Sorry about that! But…we are trained to do that and have so much to share.
The more YOU know about YOUR body, the better your result with be.
If your PT wasn’t clear or you didn’t understand something she said, please let her know. She will be happy to clarify and explain it so that it makes sense to you.
5. A small regression in mobility after seeing gains is normal.
If you gain mobility in one session, expect it to recoil some the next day. This is normal. When you see big changes, you’ve most likely changed your nervous system’s perception, not your actual mobility.
This will change and gradually improve with repetition. Once your body begins to understand your “new normal” it will adapt. Consistent performance of your home program will minimize this recoil and secure your gains.
I hope these 5 tips help give you some clarity on what you’re feeling and motivation to trust the process and press on toward the goal.
P.S. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out via email at firstname.lastname@example.org