There is a popular misconception that in order for physical therapy to work, it has to hurt. This is simply not true. While it is not uncommon to feel some muscle soreness the day after a beneficial physical therapy session, the overall goal is to relieve pain and improve function in the long-term.
Physical therapy should not be painful, but it can be uncomfortable at times. It’s important to keep in mind that your physical therapist is highly skilled in the proper rehabilitation of injuries and dysfunctions. Their goal is to evaluate your unique situation and provide you with a treatment plan that will improve mobility and relieve pain.
While this may result in some initial discomfort, the overall benefits will greatly outweigh any short-term pain you may experience.
Good Pain vs. Bad Pain
First things first, there is a big difference between good pain and bad pain. Good pain is the kind of pain you feel when you’re at the gym lifting weights and you start to “feel the burn.” What’s happening is the buildup of lactic acid in your muscles as you work them out. It’s a pain that quickly disappears and is nothing to be concerned about.
Bad pain, on the other hand, is the distinct feeling of discomfort that arises when tissue or muscles in your body are being irritated by overuse or improper form. This is the kind of pain we don’t want to experience. So, how do you know if what you are feeling is good pain or bad pain?
It can be disorienting and concerning for a patient to feel any kind of pain after physical therapy, so it’s important to discuss what you’re feeling with your physical therapist. They can help you understand whether what you are experiencing is normal (and actually a good thing) or if they need to determine a new course of care.
How to Avoid Pain After Physical Therapy
If you’re experiencing muscle soreness after a productive physical therapy session, don’t be alarmed. It’s perfectly normal to experience soreness for a day or two after completing physical therapy exercises.
However, there are steps you can take to limit the severity of the soreness you experience. Below are some of the best ways to limit pain after physical therapy:
- Drink lots of water or electrolytes (think: Pedialyte or V8) to help with muscle recovery.
- Do light stretches after exercises to promote waste removal and aid in muscle recovery.
- Trust the process and complete the exercise plan provided by your physical therapist.
If you still feel sore after a few days or feel that your pain is getting worse, rather than better, contact your physical therapist so they can reevaluate your treatment plan.
Physical Therapy in Chandler, AZ
If you are experiencing pain caused by a chronic condition or muscle injury, seeking out an experienced physical therapist is often the best way to see results. At Chandler Physical Therapy, our dedicated team provides each patient with a comprehensive evaluation and a rehabilitative plan based on their unique needs.
Contact us today for more information or to schedule a free consultation with one of our physical therapists.