Breaking Common Physical Therapy Misconceptions

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We’ve asked our knowledgeable therapists and trainers to correct misconceptions they hear in and around the office. Read on to find out what you might be doing wrong!

Misconception #1: When playing sports, you need to stay on your toes for speed and agility.

This is one that I hear a lot. You don’t actually want to be on your toes when running and moving quickly. It causes you to lose balance while also putting too much pressure on your knees. Instead, make sure to use even pressure along your entire foot. This will increase your leg strength and balance; allowing you to move quicker and with more ease.
– James Fowler, PT PC , Founder of JFPT

Misconception #2: Just going to your PT appointments alone will heal your injury.

I often tell my patients that they can’t just come to physical therapy and expect to get better. The only way to guarantee recovery is by doing their exercises at home, as well. You need to understand that your PT appointment is only 2 or 3 hours a week, and there are a total 168 hours in a week. In the long scheme of things, 2 or 3 hours a week isn’t going to make a difference. It depends on the patient, but I usually tell them to their exercises 2x a day for 30 minutes each. But when they do come to therapy, they can count that for their exercises for the day.
– Christina Ramirez, PT, DPT, CKTP

Misconception #3: When sitting in a chair, you need to sit straight at a 90-degree angle. 

Patients tend to think that when they sit in a chair, their back needs to be completely straight and long. This is a misconception. It should be more passive, where you are sitting comfortably and using the chair for support. You don’t want to “float”. Also, the top of your computer screen should be at eye level. Any higher and it causes cervical extension, where you head tilts back and puts strain on your neck. *
– Terry Hwang, PT, DPT, OCS

*Learn more about ergonomics and finding the right chair for you through our Ergonomics Program.

Misconception #4: You should hold your breath to exert more force. 

Holding your breath actually does the exact opposite. You need to remember to breath when exercising your muscles. By remembering to breath, you are supplying oxygen to your muscles allowing them to work harder and longer.
– Nick Grubbs, Trainer

Misconception #5: MRI that shows herniation indicates that is where the pain is coming from.

This is false. Feeling some sort of pain does not always correlate with a herniation. Your MRI might show a herniation, but that does not always mean that is where the pain is coming from.
– Christina Ramirez, PT, DPT, CKTP

Misconception #6: I will get better faster if I push through/tolerate more pain.

Depending on your injury, it’s often bad to push through serious pain. You never want to put your body under more stress than it can handle for the threat of injuring it further.
– Karen Beth Wong, DPT

Misconception #7: If I have back pain, I should do yoga.

Yoga isn’t always a great remedy for back pain. Yoga positions can often be challenging or extreme especially for someone who might already have back pain. It could potentially cause a serious injury. You should consult a physical therapist before putting too much pressure or stress on your back.
– Karen Beth Wong, DPT

We hope these were helpful tips for you. Remember, we encourage consulting a physical therapist if you are experiencing any long term pain.

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