Post Physical Therapy Pitfalls

Photo Credit: Toralf Thomassen @toralf

Photo Credit: Toralf Thomassen @toralf

Physical therapy is great. It is often your first step after injury to returning to health. Physical therapy is considered a stepping stone on the path to health. However, some people view it as a bridge when it is not. Let’s use a situation and see where this school of thought goes awry. An overweight individual has a knee replacement surgery due to arthritis in the knee. Surgery goes great and is discharged from the hospital. Recovery goes well. The doctor then moves you to physical therapy. An in- home therapist comes to your home to restore some movement and strength to the knee. You then move to an out-patient program at the therapy clinic down the street. Insurance authorizes 6 session of therapy. You complete the therapy and feel great. You then return to your daily routine and progress has halted. Getting around becomes more difficult. Why? Simple. Your normal routine is what got you in this situation to begin with.

The problem in this scenario isn’t the surgery or therapy at all. It is what caused you to get the surgery in the first place. Read over the scenario again and you’ll notice 2 important words; overweight and arthritis. Weight issues often cause joint issues as they have a greater workload. This often results in arthritis. This breakdown of the cartilage can be offset by movement. This leads us to conclude that this person leads a sedentary life. The surgery didn’t solve the issue at all. This is where personal training can complement at therapy program nicely.

Why do physical therapy clinics often offer personal training services under the same roof? It’s the next logical step in your journey back to health. Personal trainers take the reins after therapy to further strengthen the body and reinforce healthy habits. As a personal trainer, most of my clients have come off injury so it’s nothing new. A couple things to focus on after therapy are mobility, alignment and form, muscle feedback, and motivation. Sound familiar? This is all the things that a personal trainer looks for and does.

Let’s go back to our scenario and make a few adjustments. During your 5th therapy session you speak to one of the personal trainers they have on staff. You decide to sign up for a couple training sessions. You work with the trainer for a couple months and lose a couple of pounds. You take up hiking based on your trainer suggestion. Your knees feel much better than ever before. Congratulations, you are now a success! Moral of the story, just because you are done with physical therapy doesn’t mean you are back to 100%. Personal training is the next logical step in your return from injury.

Sean Willitts is an ACE certified personal trainer. He graduated from Kutztown University in 2015 with a bachelor’s is sport management and a minor in fitness. Including training at Body Elite, he is also a record holding powerlifter. He uses his practical experience and knowledge to help his clients achieve their strength and fitness goals.