It’s not uncommon that clients of mine in the past have asked me, “What do I do after I’m done with physical therapy?”. I’ve even heard many people tell me, “I’ve failed a round of PT, so what do I do next?”.
I’m going to answer that for you
A LITTLE BACKGROUND…
There are enormous gaps in healthcare that exist today between “finishing an episode of physical therapy” and [really & truly] getting back to normal. The reasons that people are “discharged” from Physical Therapy vary from “I’m sorry, your insurance won’t cover your care here anymore” to “you can move your shoulder through full range of motion, so there’s nothing else I can help you with.”
I call BS.
Physical Therapists didn’t go through so many years of education (now a Doctoral degree is required to take the Licensure/Board Exams!) just to kick you to the street when you’re “basically, almost back to normal”. We didn’t go to school to be Movement Experts, just so we can stretch your hamstrings a few times and discharge you when your back pain has finally calmed down.
There’s more to this story…
Often times, when I sit down with my clients who are parents and grandparents, they communicate that their normal is as simple as getting up & down from the ground to play with their kids or grandkids without worrying about debilitating pain. I frequently hear athletes frustrated because they’d like their normal to be game-readiness, peak performance, and physical resiliency — and their experience with Physical Therapy only took them 50% of the way there.
The problem is a beast that has at least 3 heads.
- Insurance Limitations & Red Tape. Cut & dry – insurance doesn’t pay for wellness, fitness, performance, or anything of that nature. It’s not a good excuse, but it’s a real one. The fact that insurance doesn’t pay for these things makes it very tough for clinic owners to feel OK with keeping you on as a client when basic things like your “Range of Motion” and “Manual Muscle Strength Testing” (more on that some other time…) are back so some level of baseline.Insurance audits scare no one. No wait…insurance audits scare everyone. So when a patient starts to walk the line of feeling better, even though PT may not have yet prepared them for re-entry to normal activities, often times they get snubbed.Another problem here is that many physical therapy clinics are not prepared to help you enter that “after PT” phase. Most PT clinics don’t have barbells, kettlebells, or heavy weights. most don’t have rowing machines, turf, sleds, or any other performance-based machine. Most PT clinics also don’t have the business infrastructure to help you switch to a private-pay environment where performance & fitness are free game.
- Not Enough 1-on-1 Time. I can count on one hand the number of times a client of mine has said, “It was amazing! My Doctor sat down with me for as long as I needed and really listened to me. We went over my health & fitness goals, and came up with a game plan to make them happen that I’m really excited about!”. That’s because 1-on-1 time—and listening, for that matter—are becoming more and more rare in healthcare as time goes on. That doesn’t mean we have to settle for it, though!Uninterrupted 1-on-1 time with a skilled healthcare professional is a gold mine. When you don’t get that from your Physical Therapist, they simply aren’t going to have the capacity to fully understand how to get you all the way to your goals, regardless of their clinical skills.A good rule of thumb is to ask your PT clinic how many patients their therapists see per hour. This small piece of information should be revealing and will help you to make a well-informed decision.
Many Rehab Pros Don’t Know How To Help. Physical Therapy school prepares Therapists to gather basic information and to perform basic evaluation & treatment. When it comes to Strength & Conditioning, Return-to-Sport readiness, and niche sports such as CrossFit & Endurance Training, there just are a smaller number of us out there that really know how to get you up to speed. Finding a rehab professional who understands the demands of your sport and what it’s going to take to get you back in the game is imperative. We do exist! Sometimes you just have to ask around to find them!
- Work with a Physical Therapist who will spend a hefty amount of 1-on-1 time with you. At Limitless, all of our sessions are a full hour in duration, and 100% of that time is spent 1-on-1 between you and our Doctor of Physical Therapy. This is an unmatched benefit that we offer, and it helps us to have excellent outcomes with all sorts of conditions.
Consider ditching the aging confines of insurance-contracted providers & reach out to a Performance Physical Therapist. There are so many other things to consider when you are trying to get your life back — sleep, nutrition, stress management just to name a few. There are a growing number of Physical Therapy (*and medical!) practices around that have gone “out of network” in order to be able to offer concierge, high-level care. Here’s a blog about why we have chosen to take Limitless in that direction. Working with a practice like this in your area can be an absolute game changer for getting you the attention you deserve and the performance optimization expertise you’ve been searching for.
Work with someone who practices what they preach. No one is perfect! But it’s so incredibly important that your rehab professional is in the trenches, experiencing physical strain & challenges like you are. Your PT doesn’t have to be an expert in your specific sport, but it’s absolutely imperative that they are a student of their own movement as much as yours.
Fitness is your next frontier and the main way to bulletproof yourself, so how will you launch into it? I can’t say this loudly enough! The surest way to become more resilient to the stresses that can cause injury and degenerative changes is through FITNESS. When you are [finally] out of pain — you need to be searching for a way to stay fit for life. That means maintaining and improving cardiovascular fitness, strength & endurance…the list could go on and on. The best way to find a good fit is to think about what you truly enjoy doing physically and what community would you like to become a part of. Are you craving a more contemplative movement practice like Yoga? Or how about those former high school & college athletes- are you craving a higher intensity competitive environment such as Triathlons or CrossFit?
Fitness is the next frontier after you have truly returned to or surpassed your “normal”. The time is now to start thinking how you’re going to pursue fitness!
Working with an excellent Physical Therapist does not have to end when you are back at a basic level of functioning with a good reduction in pain.
At Limitless, we offer next-level solutions to get you out of pain, but more importantly – back to the activities you love or have dreamed of doing.
Live More. Limit Less. That’s our motto, and we’re here to help when you need us. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you’re fed up with the “normal” PT experience.