How to Make the Most of Physical Therapy

Recovery from an injury or illness is a journey, and the right mindset can make all the difference. That’s especially true when you face physical therapy.

“I think some people are hesitant about physical therapy because there’s an assumption that it’s going to hurt,” says Bill Strawniak, PT, co-director of physical therapy at Fox Valley Orthopedics (FVO). “We always tell patients that if they’re progressing they should never hurt in physical therapy.”

After all, the goal is to relieve your underlying source of pain, whether that’s following an injury, a joint replacement or a condition like plantar fasciitis.

Along with the right mindset, it helps to have an objective.

“It’s nice to hear when patients have specific goals, including activities they want to get back to doing,” says Strawniak. “They’re taking ownership and saying, ‘What can I do to get myself better?’ Those are the patients who will have the better, quicker success.”

Physical therapists like Strawniak and the team at FVO, who work at nine suburban clinics, have a wide range of tactics, from manual therapy and stretching/strengthening exercises to dry needling and kinetic taping. Therapy sessions often involve some combination of these, including the use of treadmills, ellipticals and resistance exercises using therapy bands or free weights. Therapists will also assign exercises to do at home.

“If you’re trying to relieve pain or increase your range of motion, you should be doing these exercises, because they’re designed to help you move better and feel better,” says Strawniak. “In the event that you do it at home and you do feel pain, then stop, because there’s something wrong. We’ll review it together.”

Physical therapy ought to help you regain your former lifestyle. While things may not be exactly the same, health care providers are doing their part to ensure patients can look forward to an active future.

“When it comes to joint replacements, materials are better now and doctors are saying, ‘If this is what the patient wants to get back to doing and this is what they love, then let them get back to it,’” says Strawniak.

Fox Valley Orthopedics has nine locations in Algonquin, Barrington, Elgin, Geneva, Huntley and Aurora. Call (630) 584-1400 to schedule an appointment.