Welcome to physical therapy. It’s always important to get the most out of your physical therapy to ensure you’re getting results and hitting your goals. Whether you’re recovering from a surgery, undergoing therapy from an injury, workers’ comp or just addressing a lingering pain, physical therapy can help you feel better and get back to life as usual. If you’re like most people, you’d love for that process to go as quickly as possible. To that end, here are some tips for you to remember when entering into physical therapy. These tips are great if it’s your first time in therapy or if you’ve gone through the process before and want to improve your results.

1. Communication is Key

Describing the nature of your pain is one of the most difficult things you’ll have to do in physical therapy. Does the pain burn, or is it sharp? What makes a pain mild or severe? The words we use to describe pain can be interpreted differently by different people. Take a few moments before meeting with your care provider and think about your pain. Many providers will ask you to put a value on your pain from 0 (no pain) to 10 (severe). Think about what number your pain would be. This will make it easier to answer questions and free up more time during your session.

Second, listen to your therapist and make sure you understand your diagnosis. This may sound obvious, but it’s one of the keys to physical therapy success because it gives you a big picture view of what to expect in the weeks and months to come. Your diagnosis will give you a breakdown of your goals for therapy, as well as your frequency and duration of treatment. The better you understand your diagnosis, the more you’ll understand why and how your treatment works. This will make you more effective in your exercises, whether at home or during your therapy session.

Finally, be sure to keep track of your progress in a helpful way you can reference later. You’ll be surprised how quickly you can forget about a pain (and what you did to cause it). If you take a moment to write down your daily activities and pain levels, you can start to form a trend you might not otherwise have noticed.

2. Be Prepared

What’s one of the easiest ways to make sure you have more time in your sessions? Arrive on time. Even if you’re five minutes late, that’s time you could have spent making progress with your therapist. Also, wear the right clothing. Dress like you’re going to the gym – avoid restrictive clothing or anything that will overheat you during physical activity. Wear breathable, loose clothing that will make your injured area easily accessible.

You’ll also want to ask a LOT of questions, like what your home exercise routine will be, how many reps you need to do, how much pain to expect, etc. If there’s an exercise or variations you don’t have a handout for, ask your therapist if it’s something he or she would like you to do at home.

3. Do Your Homework

Being at home is a lot different than your therapy session. There are distractions. The space might not be ideal for exercising. Your energy level might be low and so on.

Doing your home exercises is as much mental as it is physical. You need to find a good routine for doing your exercises and stick to it. Also, don’t cut corners (or do anything extra that might over-stress your body). Your therapist gave you those exact exercises to do for a reason.

4. Don’t Hurt Yourself

This one is more common than you think, especially after a few therapy sessions and patients start to feel better. It can be tempting to do too much too fast. If you’re anxious to get back to your normal physical routine, discuss it with your physical therapist first. And if you find yourself doing more at home, take frequent breaks.

Also, don’t listen to unsolicited advice from non-medical professionals about your therapy progress. Your therapist and physician are the only ones who knows how far you should be pushing yourself. Don’t compare where you “should” be with others who have gone through physical therapy. Your situation is unique and so is your treatment.

Finally, take time to understand what led you to physical therapy in the first place. If you’re in PT to recover from a workout or sports injury, perhaps returning to your “normal” routine isn’t where you need to be. Make sure you’re taking care of yourself for the long term and finding a good balance of rest and physical activity.

5. Finally … Choose a Quality Care Provider Like Premier Physical Therapy

The right provider makes all the difference. And at Premier, you can count on the experience of our staff to help you get the most out of every session. We also offer free pain consultations and walk you through your options for care. We’ll help you understand what is really causing your pain and assist you with getting a doctor’s prescription. Premier Physical Therapy is also the only provider in the region to offer a 5-Star Plan for pain. Our comprehensive approach to pain relief is what sets us apart. Call us today at 573-335-7868.