When a Home Exercise Program is Not Enough
By Ryann Roberts, DPT
AZOPT Owner and Physical Therapist
Ever had an injury or nagging pain that just won’t go away? During the course of exercise, sports, and sometimes normal daily activities, these injuries occur frequently. Some people will turn to word of mouth, YouTube, or a medical professional for assistance. They will receive an abundance of information, exercise, and movements that may help alleviate or reduce the pain. Many of these stretches and activities loosen tight muscles, strengthen weak muscles, alleviate the pain, and help you achieve full return to activity. But what do you do when the home exercise program (HEP) does not resolve your injuries fully?
I see many people in the gym or who come into my office at AZOPT and tell me despite finding a good HEP and performing the exercises correctly and frequently, the pain still will not go away. My response is always the same – you need the skilled hands of a physical therapist to manually release the restricted tissue. A skilled physical therapist uses techniques and stretches you will not receive any other way. A physical therapist will push your limits safely and effectively in a way you cannot on your own.
You can only foam roll or lacrosse ball out a tissue so much and so deep compared to what manual therapy from a physical therapist can perform with their hands. Physical therapists can ‘feel’ the restriction and use several deep tissue methods to release the restriction deeper than a foam roll or a lacrosse ball. A physical therapist’s hands can get pin point to the exact restriction and effect positive change.
I talk with athletes daily about aches and pains they are having and how they should best attack the pain or restriction. I am happy to give general stretches and advice to best resolve their problem, but nothing compares to the time spent on the table manually working through the pain. On the table, I am able to feel the restriction and range of motion loss, and trace it to a certain area that is causing the limitation, thus the pain. Through repeated sessions, I am able to address every factor contributing to the problem.
HEPs are very good; I give them to my patients all the time, but as a part of a larger program. I give instruction and advice all the time. Without actually spending time with the person on the table, my advice is limited. If your routine is working for you and you are able to function or compete on a daily basis with this program, then keep going! If you find you are constantly searching for that next great stretch on the Internet to fix your problem, have a physical therapist perform an evaluation.
I treat the CrossFit Fury Games athletes consistently. I know what their tissues feel like. I know each individual’s range of motion. Therefore, I also know their medical ailments and when their bodies are tight. I can prepare them for competition in a couple sessions because they see me regularly. I know their bodies. They know that self-stretching and foam rolling will only take them so far. At AZOPT, we understand all athletes because we are athletes. We understand the physical demand of exercise from the everyday person trying to get fit to the competitive athlete we all admire.
I decided to write this blog because I see too many people looking for the easy answer to their pain. I do not mind giving advice to anyone who asks, but if you truly want the answer, you need to come see us. Treating pain without the use of medication takes time and effort. The easy answer is “take 2 of these and call me in the morning”. The hard answer is “make an appointment and let’s get to work”. You spend so much time, money, and energy to get healthy; do not fail yourself at the point of pain. Put in that extra rep and call to make an appointment; we can only help you if you allow us to. It was not easy getting to the point where you need help, and it will be work getting beyond the pain. Physical therapy is the natural cure for the ailing athlete.
If you are having nagging pain or an injury that just will not go away, give us a call at (623) 242-6908 and make an appointment. We are here to help you get Stronger, Faster, Safer.