Everywhere you look these days, there’s another scheme at work.
“Get rich quick!”
“Lose 30 lbs in 30 days!!”
“New trick for six pack abs fast!”
Thing is, they’re all bullshit. Now, I know that’s a grand statement. Some things may have some efficacy here and there, but most don’t. You see it in the supplement industry, you see it in pharma, and you see it in rehab.
Whoa. Rehab? Yeah, I said it. Maybe not so much from the specialists, but this culture affects how people expect us to practice.
One of the most frequent questions I get is this: “I hurt X, how long will it take for me to be back lifting heavy?” The single act of hearing that question prompts quite possibly the least thought out response I can muster : “12-16 weeks”. Oftentimes, this may hurt the individual’s feelings. He or she knows I’m a physical therapist, and has heard people say how good I am at what I do. They come to me with stuff so destroyed I can barely wrap my head around it, have been told surgery is the only fix, and ask what I can do to get them back lifting. Here’s the rub: if you have a symptomatic serious injury, and a top notch surgeon says they need to go in there and fix it, I’d typically recommend you listen.
Otherwise, you’ll try all kinds of exercises, working around you injury, thinking it feels better a few weeks later until you try the movement that injured it in the first place, and BOOM, reinjury happens. Then you try something else. All that time could have been spent productively rehabilitating a post-operative repair and have you back in the game far sooner than expected. At this point, I’m sure some of you are thinking I’m a little angry and riled up tonight. Perhaps I am slightly, but I have a perfectly good reason.
At NBS, we have the luxury of amazing trainers and programming minds working hard to make sure the lifters and clients alike are receiving the best possible programming to achieve their goals. You will consistently hear people say “I have never done this, but I’m willing to give it a try.” They BELIEVE in the program and TRUST those at the helm that the process will work. They trust that all those reps, jumps, sore days and the like will add up to improved performance and better living through strength and fitness. It’s almost a no-brainer, and you see that same term bandied about by all those well known coaches across the internet. It’s a growing phenomenon. TRUST THE PROCESS.
Now, I really wish that we could make the same strides in regards to rehab. Nothing comes quickly when it comes to fixing you body. I can make some adjustments, stretch what’s tight, etc and provide rapid relief, but you have to continue to manage that tissue long term or it will go right back to what it was. It’s even more tedious after an operation, unfortunately. For 99.9% of the population which is not genetically elite, it will take time to heal, and then time to strengthen, and then time still before you’re back at it with the iron. Most post-operative reinjuries of repaired tissues happen 6-8 weeks after surgery. Why? Because that’s when things start feeling “normal” again, and people typically ignore their therapists and doctors and try to go back to daily activities at their previous rate. It just doesn’t work that way. You heal at a fairly fixed rate, and other than some exogenous hormones, there’s no way to speed it up. Listen to the timelines and stick to it. The PT will always progress you when they feel the time is right.
My main point with writing this is simple: TRUST THE PROCESS. Most physical therapists coming out of school today have a doctorate. It requires an intensive level of schooling to achieve, and I think that should garner a certain level of respect when we make recommendations to the progress of your rehabilitation. Now, some of us think differently than others, and may introduce certain exercises or activities earlier than others, but the bulk of the process remains the same: the tissue must heal before it can be strengthened. Once it can be strengthened, then one must take particular care to ease back into previous strength based activities or risk reinjuring tissue. Listen to your therapists. TRUST THE PROCESS. We are in the trenches with you trying to get you back up to speed. We want you to be able to compete again. Listen. Learn. Pass on. And once again:
TRUST THE PROCESS.
Stay strong my friends.
Taylor Weglicki, PT, DPT
Owner/Director of Strongman PT, PLLC