Why Your Physical Therapy Isn't Working (And How to Fix It) - PRO Therapy
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Why Your Physical Therapy Isn’t Working (And How to Fix It)

a woman touching the back of her neckOne of the most common things we hear from patients at their first session is “I’ve tried physical therapy before, but it didn’t work.” Often when we start asking follow-up questions, we find out that there were some common missteps that made the patient’s physical therapy ineffective. It isn’t that physical therapy “can’t work” for this person – it’s that they weren’t getting the right treatments for their needs.

Before you throw in the towel on physical therapy, make sure your previous provider wasn’t making any of these mistakes.

Why Your Physical Therapy Isn’t Working

1. Your previous therapist assigned “homework” that you couldn’t complete

At-home exercises and stretches are an important part of any physical therapy program. And while it’s important to keep up with this work at home, some physical therapists don’t consider a patient’s time to actually do this homework. We hear all the time that patients were given a huge set of exercises to do every day, they didn’t have time every single day to do them, so they would end up skipping them.

That’s why we always make sure to create a realistic plan for our clients. We want to create a plan that’s challenging enough to aid your sessions, but that you can also fit into your lifestyle.

We do this by collaborating with you, the patient, to create an individualized and specific set of exercises that are beneficial and appropriate to your time constraints, injury, and equipment you have available. We never have a “cookie cutter” set of exercises that you may find many other locations use. Homework templates can be delivered in the way that best suites you: video, paper, email, or text. Overall, we know everyone has different learning styles and we like to adapt to each person’s style to help improve your symptoms the fastest.

2. Overdoing it

This is an extremely common mistake that happens when people first start physical therapy. You’re so ready for the pain to end, to get back to what you love, that it’s easy to get a bit carried away and do too much at once or too soon.

It’s important to rest alongside your physical therapy – trying to do too much activity will only overtax your body and halt recovery.

Injuries require us to take a step back in our desired activity to respect our tissue’s ability to heal. However, this does not mean stopping ALL activity. It’s important that we work with you as part of your overall care plan to help identify and modify activities that are painful or causing pain. We are movement specialists and know movement is extremely important for whole body health. Therefore, at PRO Therapy, we like to work with you on an “either/or” standpoint. Example: a patient with shoulder pain doing a barbell bench press, can we modify that activity to a dumbbell bench press or incline bench press to continue to reach a pain free workout stimulus to allow you to continue going to the gym.

3. Your previous therapist wasn’t looking wholistically

Sometimes physical therapists focus only on the part of your body that’s feeling pain – this can be due to insurance limitations, taking on too many clients, or inexperience. Unfortunately, this also can lead to physical therapy being ineffective. Our bodies are a complex web of interconnected parts – and it’s extremely common that pain in one area is a symptom of a problem in another.

That’s why our Physical Therapists always look at your entire musculoskeletal system, not just the area where you’re feeling the pain. That’s the only way to truly understand what’s going on with your body and develop an effective treatment plan.

Because pain is so complex, we would be failing you if we did not also ask questions regarding your sleep hygiene, nutrition, stress levels, and other factors that may be contributing to your pain. This, in part, helps set us apart from other clinics and providers. At PRO Therapy, we utilize many variables outside of your musculoskeletal system to help you reap your well-deserved benefits.

4. Success wasn’t defined

It’s critical that a physical therapist understand your expectations to help set realistic goals for your care plan. If your last therapist only left it as a vague “this will help you” – then it’s no wonder, you didn’t see the results you wanted!

For physical therapy to be successful, both the patient and the therapist need to have the same definition of success. Is it eliminating pain completely? Is it reducing pain? Is it the ability to execute specific tasks? Is it improved sports performance? These are the sorts of questions your therapist should discuss and answer with you early on in your physical therapy process.

At PRO Therapy, we won’t stop with just the definition of “success”. Stopping at “to get stronger” can be meaningful to some, but we want to know the WHY. Why do you want to get stronger? Why do you want better balance? Why do you want to do those things? Do you want to play volleyball with your friends this summer and enjoy it without pain? Do you want to be able to chase your grandkids around the yard? Do you want to be able to tend your garden multiple times per day? Making goals super-specific and defined allows us to track your goals more appropriately and tailor our treatment approach to your goals.

Physical Therapy With PROTherapy

If you want to make physical therapy a success, partnering with a one of our Doctors of Physical Therapy is going to help you avoid future pain and resolve current pain.

We Love to Help People: 

  • Keep Active - So you can run after your kids all day, take your grandchildren to the park with ease, enjoy a nice round of golf, run or walk anytime that suits you. 
  • Stay Free From Painkillers - So you’re not always reaching in the cupboard for pills to ease the pain whenever it strikes, getting only a “quick fix” when you need a “permanent fix” – PLUS they’re no good for your long-term health, “mask” the pain and certainly don’t actually do anything to fix the problem. 
  • Avoid Dangerous Injections/Surgery - We’ll help you get to the root cause of what’s going on – so you don’t have to get to the point of having to face injections or surgery. 
  • Found Out What’s Wrong - We’ll help give you peace of mind and ensure that your problem is “corrected” and “healed” properly – also give you a set of exercises perfectly catered to you to help speed up recovery. 
  • Get More Enjoyment Out Of Life – So you can enjoy quality time with family and friends that your daily aches and pains steal from you – also finally get a good night of sleep without constantly tossing and turning. 

Are you ready to make physical therapy work for you? Give us a call! We offer complimentary phone and in-person consultations. We aim to meet our patients wherever they are in their journey and answer all questions we can to ensure a smooth experience at PRO Therapy. We want to help you make the best decision for you!


PRO Therapy is an Independently Owned Orthopedic Physical Therapy Clinic. At PRO Therapy, we treat back, knee, neck/shoulder, ankle/foot, and hip pain as well as sports injuries, surgery rehabilitation, and anything else that’s causing you pain. We want everyone to have exceptional care, better access to care and be able to complete the activities in life that make them happy – free from a life of painkillers, injections, or surgeries

Liz Spahr

Liz Spahr

Liz Spahr, originally from Stillwater, MN resides in Coon Rapids with her husband, Dr. Spahr! They have one daughter (Millie) and two dogs (Mia and Ellie). Along with being Co-Owner of PRO Therapy, Liz utilizes her extensive Marketing background connecting with PRO’s patients via our website, email communications and social media platforms.
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