Choosing the right therapist and treatment to help you with your injury can be difficult and overwhelming for some. You may also wonder how many sessions are needed to help you recover. The honest answer is we don’t really know, it depends on the person, but there are certain things you can do to get the most out of your sessions and minimise how many you need.
Preparation And Honesty
Where is your pain?
When did your pain start?
Are there any specific movements that aggravate your pain?
These types of questions may sound familiar, and may seem detracting from your treatment, but the subjective assessment is a critical part of the process. This is where we discuss your condition in more detail. Whilst sometimes it may feel your therapist is simply reading a list of questions, the key here is to understand how your pain started. Possibly the most important part of this is actually talking about previous injuries, operations, illnesses and other physical or mental trauma.
As an example, 20 years ago you broke your left ankle, which has left you with a slight limp. Over time this has raised your pelvis up, and affects the muscles from your pelvis all the way to your shoulder. After having 20 years to build, this has reached a point that is now impacting your shoulder biomechanics causing pain. This kind of example is more common than it may sound. But it just highlights the importance of your therapist needing to know your whole history.
Post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms, including anxiety and depression can be a significant risk factor in suffering with chronic pain. Whilst your Sports Therapist or Physiotherapist may not always be equipped to help you directly here, it is really important for them to know. Whilst it can influence your recovery this piece of research still found favourable outcomes from physiotherapy treatments. Sharing as much as you feel comfortable with will help you realise a more satisfying outcome from treatment.
Set Realistic And Specific Goals
For some people the goal might simply be to feel better. What we really mean by this point is set goals specific to your injury, thinking about when it first started and the severity of your symptoms. If you’ve had pain for 10 years then it’s likely to take time to get over this and unfortunately that miracle quick fix probably won’t happen. It can sometimes be useful to think about specific tasks or movements that you are no longer able to do pain free. This can really help your therapist tailor your rehabilitation plan to achieving some of these.
When I think about the majority of acute and chronic pain syndromes I see they can be tracked back to the movement patterns that person has developed over their lifetime. This is where my idea of helping people has changed, and had me asking “can I truly fix someone in the treatment room”? If your pain has developed because of the non-optimal movement patterns you have developed over the last 20 years then it’s unlikely we can completely change this in one treatment session. In my opinion the main goal of any treatment has to be, how can you and your therapist work together to understand and introduce measures to begin inducing change. We all know that to build the strength and size of a muscle takes time and hard work, this is the case for changing a movement pattern. Studies like this one suggest the longer you work at improving a movement pattern the more success we have of it becoming the new normal. My key takeaway here is, if your pain subsides don’t forget about everything that helped you get there!
Adherence And Commitment
This one links well to the previous point. For improvement to happen you are going to have to put in work. Whilst your therapist can assist you in your recovery and give you guidance, you may only see them once a week, or even longer. The responsibility therefore is down to you to carry out those exercises daily and implement those changes. I can almost guarantee that if you don’t put the work in your symptoms either won’t go away or will return at some point in the near future. However, to help you stay motivated it is your therapists job to challenge you and your body to the correct level. Not enough and you may lose interest quickly, too much and your symptoms get worse and you feel like you are back at square one.
Note: It’s rare but we do on occasion see people over doing it with exercises, and sometimes this can have a hugely negative impact on symptoms, so follow your therapists guidance and listen to your body.
Trust In Your Therapist And Process
This is a very important point. When you are looking for a therapist to help you out, one of the most important things to establish is trust. Do you believe this therapist can help you with your condition? Trust is earned and you’ll tend to find that as your condition starts to improve your trust in your therapist increases. For many years research has shown that your beliefs can influence outcomes, this is also true about your health, here is a great article exploring this in more detail. To put it more simply if you believe your therapist and treatment will help you then you are more likely to benefit from it. It can sometimes be this simple, but trust will drive a stronger belief system.
Right To Question Your Therapist And His Approach
The last thing most people want to do is cause some kind of conflict right?
This is more a point specific to us at Swindon Sports Therapy, although I believe it should be the case for anyone. Whilst I have been in the profession for 9 years, completed a degree and carried out numerous courses I accept I do not know everything. I cannot help everyone. We encourage people to question our approach and philosophy, if not to simply understand the process in more detail. If the approach isn’t working for you don’t be afraid to talk to your therapist about it. They may have other approaches to try or can recommend and refer you on to another practitioner to help. This can help save time all around and you the expense of paying for something you are not benefitting from.
Although, as we spoke about earlier change can take time. As long as you still have trust in your therapist and they are confident you are on the right track then continue to stick with the process.
Relax And Breath
This is especially relevant if you are in severe pain or just worried that it will never go away. Stress and worry will result in more pain. Relaxed breathing mainly involves the diaphragm, which has been shown to induce greater activity of our parasympathetic nervous system. This allows our body to focus on relaxation, repair, digestion of food, essentially all the really important things when recovering from injury. In one of our previous articles we go in to more detail on how breathing can help ease pain and improve your mood.
There you have it, my guide on how you can get more from your Sports Therapy and Physiotherapy treatments. Whilst there are many more factors that can influence your outcome, these are some that I feel can be easily influenced by you, giving you more control in your recovery. You can find more information on our Sports Therapists’ approach and how that can help you here.
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