How to Get the Most Out of Your Rehab

Just to be clear, Physical Therapists do not fix people.

Um what!?

You read that correctly, physical therapists (myself included) do not fix injuries.  I know you are thinking 'well why do I spend all my time and money on co-payments and deductibles if no one can fix me?'

In an outpatient setting, a PT is able to determine the root cause of your pain through the evaluation process.  By understanding your mechanism of injury, current symptomology, and examination of movement a PT can give you a movement diagnosis that allows them to address any pain, tissue extensibility, mobility or motor control issue that might be present. 

You are probably thinking now, 'hey you just said PTs can't fix me, but they can put me on the road to recovery?'

Exactly! Physical therapists put you on the ROAD TO RECOVERY.  This does not mean we fix you; the hones truth is the only person who can fix you is... YOU.  The bottom line being that a PT alone cannot ¨fix¨ your ailments all by him/herself, the other person in the equation of recovery is YOU. 

Every time I see a patient, any benefit they get from seeing me I call “the window of opportunity.” All tissues in the body have a threshold level that once met, pain settles in.  The benefit you get from PT is increasing your threshold, which improves your pain tolerance.  

So if you see a PT for 20 minutes to an hour twice a week and have your window of opportunity opened, what you do with the remaining 23 hours will have an even greater impact on your window as well. 

What I often see is a person feels much better after leaving PT. These effects lasts roughly a day or two and by the time they return for their next visit their pain has returned.  



The number one tool a patient has for recovery is their home exercise program (HEP).  Your PT should be giving you, the patient, 2-4 corrective exercises that will maximize your window of opportunity between visits. But more often than not my patients have all the excuses in the world why they can do their home exercises, which on average takes under 10 minutes to complete. 

This boggles my mind because if I told you in 10 minutes a day you can be pain free, would you say yes, I will do whatever it is?  You may be nodding your head yes, but my experience begs to differ.

If you do your exercises as prescribed, you keep the window of opportunity open a little longer, so the next time your PT sees you they can continue to make it larger until your threshold of pain returns to normal. 

Even after being pain free, you must remain pain free for six months before you decide to cut back on frequency of HEP.  Would you rather spend 10 minutes a day now however it fits your schedule for the next 6-8 months or continue to have pain and see PTs for the same problems over and over again. 


  • Do your exercises at a set time every day.  This will help you to develop habits.

    •  For example after you brush your teeth in the morning you do 5 minutes of exercises.  

  • Break up your exercises throughout the day.  

    • If your PT gives you 10 minutes of exercises but between life, kids, relationships, work etc some days you just can find 10 minutes.  No problem.

    • Break up the exercises into smaller time slots.  Do 2 minutes of exercises sprinkled throughout the day on 5 separate occasions.  No one ever said you HAVE to do them all at the same time. 

Hope this helps! Take advantage of this tool and feel better faster!