10 Things A Physical Therapy Patient Should Know and Do


Physical therapist Jason Sweet talks about 10 things he wishes his patients should know.

As a licensed physical therapist, there are a few things that I wish my patients would do to help them overcome their pains and get back to what they love in a healthy way:

  1. Ice and Heat: Both Can Help With an Injury
    • Ice can assist with controlling swelling and decreasing pain. This treatment is best performed within the first 24–48 hours of an injury or when recovering after an injury at the end of the day or after an exercise session.
    • Heat is best used to increase circulation to a joint or injured area. Moist heat is preferred when dealing with a joint or muscle injury. Heat is best applied prior to an exercise session to increase the mobility of the tissue and increase blood flow to the tissue.
  2. Movement Is a Good Thing
    • Throughout our day we often find ourselves in one of a few different positions. Static positions throughout the day can cause joint stiffness, limit lubrication in the joint, and decrease overall flexibility and mobility of the tissue and joints. It is best to change positions or perform 1–3 easy exercises (for 2–4 minutes) at least every hour to move the joints. Using a timer or Fitbit can be a helpful reminder to take these “posture breaks.”
  3. Flexibility Can Be the Key
    • When talking with my patients, I often find they are working hard on strength and endurance training for their muscles and cardiovascular system and less time spent on the flexibility portion of their work out. Flexibility and stretching play a vital role in maintaining tissue mobility and balance between muscles that contract in opposite directions. Making time at the end of your work out for 15 to 20 minutes of stretching will pay off.
  4. When to Seek Medical Advice
    • Generally, most strains of the body will show progressive improvement within the first week after the initial injury. It would be a good time to find a physical therapist if there is minimal to no improvement in the first 1–2 weeks of an injury.
  5. Write It Down and Ask Questions
    • Writing down questions you have for a provider will ensure you remember all of your questions and diminish the likelihood of you getting home and remembering that one important question you wanted to ask. Also, during the days you are not seeing your physical therapist, keep a list of questions to discuss at your next visit.
  6. Quality vs. Quantity
    • Doing your home exercises is an important component in your recovery, but focusing on the quality of those exercises is more important than the quantity. It is better to do 10 repetitions of an exercise with correct form and technique than 30 repetitions with improper form and technique. As you continue to perform exercises correctly, your ability to perform more repetitions correctly will improve.
  7. Postural Endurance
    • Working to improve your sitting and standing posture throughout the day will help increase the endurance of the postural muscles. This requires you to be aware of your sitting and standing posture throughout the day and those times when your posture may not be ideal.
  8. Pain Associated with Exercises
    • It is important to work through some pain during your home workout program to reach your goals. Typically, I tell my patients that sore, ache, stiff, and tight are ok to work up to and slightly through. You should stop the exercises and talk to your physical therapist if the pain is stabbing, sharp, or increases with repetitions.
  9. Continuing Your Home Program
    • Continuing your home workout program even after you are finished with your formal physical therapy is key to maintaining and improving the gains you made in physical therapy. The exercises for a home program are meant to address those areas that may lead to injury. If the home program is discontinued, the chance of re-injury increases.
  10. Trust Your Physical Therapist
    • Please feel free to ask questions. Understanding how the body works will assist in the progression towards your goals in physical therapy and minimize confusion.

Do you want to find a licensed physical therapist to help you overcome an injury? Feel free to take a look at our physical therapy clinics locations; we have locations all throughout Tucson.