Ask Physical Therapist Sam Olson: How Can I Maximize My Therapy?

Physical therapists are highly trained professionals dedicated to your success. Summit Physical Therapist Sam Olson has some tips to help you make the most of your time in physical therapy—and the most of your therapist’s expertise.

 

Many people fear that exercise has to be painful in order to be effective. Physical Therapist Sam Olson is eager to refute this misconception.

“You don’t need to cause pain in order to make exercise beneficial,” he declares,  “especially when rehabbing certain areas of the body. The “no pain no gain” motto is not remotely correct. We need to respect pain, because it’s our body’s way of telling us that we are approaching the limits of what we can tolerate. Patients with a frozen shoulder, or scar tissue, or a really tight knee that doesn’t bend might experience a little bit of discomfort, but for the vast majority of my physical therapy patients, pain is not part of getting better. You can have a very effective exercise program that does not cause any pain.”

Sam explains that the therapist’s job is to analyze and identify the movements responsible for a patient issue, and then to create a program of education and exercises to address the problem.

The patient has a definite role in his or her own recovery. “My influence goes only so far,” Sam says. “Within the clinic walls, I can help patients work toward their goals. When they know what they need to do to get better, and then implement the program that we’ve designed together at home as well as in the clinic, I know that things will go well.”

There are a number of things that Sam wants patients to be aware of as they use a therapy exercise program at home.

“I encourage my patients to be aware of the daily tasks that they perform—like walking, sitting at a computer, or climbing stairs—and identify the physical compensations they may be making in response to an injury,” he explains.

Compensations can include walking the stairs with a knee slightly rolling in, allowing shoulders to rise toward ears, or a habit of sitting with the head slightly forward. These compensations can lead to incorrectly working muscles, or excess stress on a joint.” “We want our patients to use core and hip muscles properly when they walk or do stairs or ride a bike or run or sit at a computer,” Sam explains. “When a patient is not aware of a compensation, imagine multiplying that incorrect action by every step you take. Those compensations add up, and can lead to tissue dysfunction or fractures.”

By collaborating with a physical therapist, you can make the most of the education and training they provide, while improving your own successful recovery.

 

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