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How to Have a Productive Physical Therapy Session

Physical Therapy Session

Have you had an injury and started physical therapy sessions? Doing something new for your health can feel daunting, especially if it's a new experience.

Preparing ahead can ease the stress and make your session more productive. You can prepare mentally and physically so you can do your best and your therapist can recommend the best exercises for your body.

Here are some tips for what to expect during a physical therapy session.

Don't Skip Sessions

The best way to make sure you're getting all the help you can from your sessions is not to skip them.

Some therapy sessions can be uncomfortable, so it's understandable that you may not always want to attend. Yet keeping your appointment means your therapist can check on your progress and your technique for exercises. They can also adjust things as your body needs.

Your doctor and therapist have prescribed you a certain amount of sessions for a reason, including how often you have them. Missing sessions is a good way to make sure it doesn't help you as much as it could. Attending every session helps you take advantage of all these physical therapy benefits you should know about.

In a pandemic age where there may be limited hours and appointments, missing a session could mean you go even longer between sessions because there may not be catch-up appointments available.

Do Your Exercises

As your body heals from your injuries, the challenges change. You'll get new exercises to do as you master the old ones. Yet you can't master the old ones if you only do them at your therapy session.

Be sure you take note of the number of reps and sets you're supposed to do at home for each exercise. If you forget or you don't write it down, you may get to your next appointment and realize you've been overworking your body or not doing enough. That will make your session challenging and your future exercises tougher, too.

Another reason you may not always do your home exercises is that it's easy to forget. Adding something to an existing routine means adjusting your habits, which can be a challenge.

One way to remind yourself to do your exercises is to post the flyer from the therapist in a prominent place. If you'll notice it most by the bathroom mirror, tape it up as soon as you get home so you remember when you use the bathroom. Maybe you spend a lot of time in the kitchen, so posting it on the refrigerator is a better reminder.

Use your phone or your computer to remind you to do your exercises, too. In addition to setting an alarm or reminder, you can block off an appointment on your calendar so that you don't schedule anything else for that time.

Physical Therapy Session Prep: Take Care of Yourself

Doing your exercises isn't the only important part of getting ready for therapy. You also need to make sure you're not neglecting other self-care.

Even when you haven't been injured, staying up too late can make you fuzzy or less productive at the gym. It's the same with physical therapy. You'll have more of a challenge if you don't get enough sleep the night before.

Be sure you're eating a healthy meal before you come to your appointment. Whether you come first thing in the morning or after lunch, having some fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and plenty of fluids will help you do well during your therapy session.

The better you treat your body, the better it will heal and the easier the session will be.

Come Prepared

When you aren't prepared for your physical therapy session, you won't be as productive. Be sure you know what to bring with you so you can make the most of your session.

Here are some ideas:

  • Water bottle
  • Comfortable shoes
  • Hair tie or sweatband
  • Small towel

Your therapist may have specific requests that you bring other things, too. Ask ahead of time so you know what to expect, and make sure to write it down so you remember for the next session.

It's vital that you dress appropriately for your physical therapy session. Ask what to wear so you can come prepared. Most of the time you'll need comfortable loose-fitting clothing that can get sweaty.

Clothes that restrict movement won't be helpful in your session. If massage is incorporated in your physical therapy appointment, you may need specific types of clothing. Wearing shorts or a tank top makes it easy for your therapist to access your arm or leg.

If you come from work or another activity, be sure to bring clothes to change into.

Prepare Mentally

When you're discouraged, it's hard to be motivated at a physical therapy session. Although you may not be seeing as much progress as you thought, you should still try to think positive thoughts.

If you notice too many negative thoughts plaguing your mind, take a few minutes to write down some alternatives. Make a list of encouraging alternatives that you can retrain yourself to think instead.

Here are some examples of how to prepare for physical therapy mentally. Instead of thinking, "I'm terrible at this," try to reframe your focus and repeat to yourself: "I can practice and get better at this."

Discouraging thoughts like, "I'll never get better," can be replaced with "My therapist knows exactly what I need, and I'll get better as I do my part to follow these instructions."

Being mentally ready for a session can make all the difference.

Healing and Happiness

There are all kinds of ways to get ready for a physical therapy session. Knowing your diagnosis and treatment plan helps you have a map for success, but all the tips above can also help you make the most of therapy.

From mental physical therapy preparation to physical care and readiness, you'll soar through your sessions when you prep ahead of time.

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