2005-09-02 / Community

Eye On Physical Therapy

By Dr. Tim Rohrs, DPT


No pain, no gain! We all have heard that refrain before. It has to hurt to be effective, is the thinking.

There are three types of people that come for therapy.

First are those that do the bare minimum. They do no home exercise program. During physical therapy they do the exercises half-heartedly.

The second group follows instructions to a “T”. Physical therapists love these patients.

Finally the third group are the “over achievers”. This group lives by the saying “no pain, no gain”. This group is probably the one that therapists like the least.

The group that does the bare minimum is frustrating, but pose no threat to themselves and very rarely hurt themselves. (Of course they never really get better either.) No, the third group is dangerous to themselves and risk re-injuring a joint or muscle or causing a new injury.

They are under the mistaken assumption that if thirty repetitions are good, then 60 is even better. If using 3-pound dumbbells is good then using the 10 pounders is better. If it hurts when I am exercising, then it must be good for me because as everyone knows, “no pain, no gain”.

An injured joint, muscle or tendon needs time to heal. If pain is elicited during an exercise, it is usually because there is stress placed upon the healing tissues. If stress is placed upon the healing tissue, you can rest assured that the mending and “knitting” of those tissues has been interrupted and possibly pulled apart.

Of course four to six weeks later, this person wonders why they are not better. I like to use this analogy with people who are members of the “no pain, no gain” club. If you accidentally hit your thumb with a hammer, and every day after you hit it again and again, you would not question why your thumb was not healing. You know why; you didn’t give it a chance to heal. Your tendonitis, strain and sprain react the same way. Given half a chance it will heal. If you hit it every day with a hammer it will never heal.

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