Why am I not progressing in PT?

Dr. Chelsea Schuman, PT |

Have you been going to physical therapy for at least four weeks and not seeing significant progress? One of the most common reason for this, is that your system is not receiving enough load or input to make a change to its preferred movement habit. What do we mean by this? When changing your movement system it is like trying to stretch out a rubber band. If you pull on the rubber band 20-30 times you might change the length of it. But if you pull on it 100-200 times that is when you will start to see some change to that system. Your movement system is very similar to this pattern. It requires consistent repetition to change the way it wants to function.

Let’s take shoulder pain for an easy example. You go to a traditional PT clinic complaining of shoulder pain and one of the first things they do is perform some type of passive mobility on you (ice, heat, ultrasound etc.) They then proceed to give you a variation on the following exercise:

They tell you to perform three sets of ten repetitions of these and then proceed to walk away to attend to another patient. During these exercises you may be thinking “this is really easy” or “am I doing this with correct form”, however your PT is nowhere to be found to ask these questions. In addition, they have instructed to stop doing whatever activity it is that you enjoy because it is causing you pain.

You have now been doing these same exercises for about four weeks now and still having shoulder pain and unable to perform the activities you enjoy. This is a very frustrating situation to be in and we are here to tell you that this is NOT how you need to feel.

Your body requires load and intensity to make changes to its preferred movement system. This is done by performing exercises in the way that not only challenges your muscles but challenges your brain as well. When this occurs that is when you will start to see changes in the way your body functions. In addition, you should not be taken out of an activity you enjoy just because it causes you “pain”. We believe that you should be taught how to modified your movements and know internal cues to be thinking about during these activities. This helps ensure a seamless transition back into your preferred activities.

In conclusion:

  1. Your body and brain needs stress to make changes to its movement system.

  2. You should not stop doing the things you love because they cause you pain. But instead be taught modification and cues to keep participating in some type of way.

  3. If are you not given the education as to what is happening with your movement patterns and how to change them, the same issue will continue to occur.

If you have any questions or comments about this concept DM us on any form of social media!

-Dr. Chelsea Schuman, PT

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