With more and more states offering direct access to physical therapists — meaning that you don’t need a referral from your primary care physician to start seeing a physical therapist — physical therapy is becoming a common treatment option for people with musculoskeletal concerns. But misconceptions about what PT is abound. Here are some common myths about PT, busted:
- Myth: Physical Therapy Is Only for Rehab
Truth: It’s true that people very often use physical therapy to recover from an accident or medical event (such as surgery). But PT isn’t limited to repairing extensive damage. Physical therapists work to improve function in a more general sense, too. So if you’re not meeting your movement goals — whether you’re a basketball player who wants a better jump shot, a dancer who wants higher grands battements or a schoolteacher who wants less painful neck motion — you might benefit from PT treatment.
- Myth: Physical Therapy Is Just Exercise
Truth: Physical therapy might help you to meet some of the same goals as personal training; you might be able to increase muscle mass and be happier with your body in general. But PT is more focused and medically based than most exercise programs, and will probably set smaller and more specific goals. However, some physical therapy clinics offer training services and fitness classes (often low-impact programs such as Pilates), so you may be able to get the best of both worlds by seeking one out. It’s also good to keep in mind that even this only takes into account one specific kind of PT, since physical therapists work on issues far beyond musculoskeletal concerns, too.
- Myth: Physical Therapy Is Done in Appointments
Truth: The biggest mistake any physical therapy patient can make is thinking that the bulk of the work is done in the clinic. While your appointments are an important part of your PT, since they allow you to work on proper form and be assessed by your physical therapist, what you do at home actually matters more. Being diligent about daily exercises and avoiding off-limits activities as recommended by your physical therapists and other doctors is the only way to heal or meet your fitness goals.
What other myths about physical therapy do you see floating around? Share them — and your rebuttals — in the comments.