I felt this was an appropriate topic seeing as I've just shaken hands with some Physical Therapists that are operating right accross the street today. Hope everyone enjoys!
Anyone that’s been through Physical Therapy, or PT, has experienced the feeling of completing it, but something still seems off. You do your “homework” religiously and rarely, if ever, miss an appointment. Then why is it once you are done the PT you leave, you feel great…mostly. There’s still that weak feeling, especially if it was a particular limb, it feels like that whole side is much weaker still.
The plain and simple answer is PT got you back to the point where you can function, and for most that’s about all they need. However, if you were strength training, running or doing any physical activity, recreationally or in some sort of occupation, regularly, that’s not where you were before. This is where my job comes in, my job post PT, is to get you back to where you were before you got hurt.
Physical Therapists worth their salt will almost always look to send you off to a strength coach or trainer to get your strength back to where it was. Why? Because a PTs job is to get you back to working order so you can continue with your life as normal as possible, but if you want to get back to where you were before, assuming you didn’t have some catastrophic injury, then you need strength training. An NFL running back does not get done with his PT and suddenly he’s ready to get into a few mini car collisions. They go to the team’s strength coach (or their personal one) and they work to get him back to where he was before he got hurt.
Coaches that are dedicated pro’s will have, or at least be forming, a network that they can refer people out comprised of physical therapists, message therapists and doctors. A coaches job does not include rehabbing an injury, that’s the PTs job, if you ever have a trainer trying to rehab you…. start asking questions for your health’s sake.
Clients also need to do their trainer’s a favor go to PT when it’s called for. Nothing will drive me wild quite like when a client says they just want to train with you instead of PT. *BUZZER* Wrong answer kids, that is not in your best interest. Strength coaches MIGHT know SOME strategies to what’s going on with you, a good, licensed PT will likely have more if not all the answers. You wouldn’t have a coach diagnose a tumor, perform open heart surgery or prescribe anxiety medication would you? Why are you going to ask them to diagnose and do PT on your injury? Do you and your coach a favor and go see the right person, if you’re not sure where to go ask. Like I said most guys and gals will have a couple answers in their back pocket should direction be needed. Believe me I know there are some quack physical therapists and the like out there and it can be scary to leave the comfort zone of who you've been working with. You still should ask if you don't know.
Once you’re done your PT, assuming things went to plan, come back to the strength coach and they'll get you back to beast mode. The coach probably has talked to the PT and knows the things to do and not to do. Communicate with your coach or trainer what issues you have, if you feel discomfort in a way you shouldn’t and especially pain.
There can be a gray line and the line gets thicker as time passes. There are points that it should be obvious to one of you, if not both, that you need to seek additional help. Obviously part of the goal in training is to never have to see someone like that again, but shit happens. Be smart about it and don't make things worse before you seek additional advice.
Jarrod Dyke, CSCS