This article originally appeared in the February 2015 issue of Generations Magazine.
The letters “p” and “t” for physical therapy should NOT be confused with “pain” and “torture.” Unfortunately, many people will share their horror stories of how painful their experiences were.
The old-school approach of “no pain, no gain” has been scientifically disproven. Stretching a muscle until it hurts will not get good results. Pain is the body’s way of telling the brain that tissue damage is occurring.
When you experience pain, your body’s protective mechanisms take over, often inhibiting the strength and mobility of the damaged area. Believing that suffering has to get worse before it can get better may even make your injury worse.
Ironically, one of the goals of physical therapy is the reduction of pain. Many injuries and post-surgical conditions by their nature are painful, although appropriate physical therapy treatments should be designed to relieve those symptoms and improve function.
So just remember, while temporary soreness can be a normal response to therapy sessions involving exercise and manual treatment, a correctly designed program should not make your injury or painful condition worse.