Successful Rehabilitation – A Simple Formula For Success: A Patient’s Guide

Dealing with an injury can be incredibly difficult to navigate, especially if you are unsure of where you should even start. In our previous blog posts, we have talked about the physiotherapy profession, as well as the benefits of physiotherapy, but today we will talk about how to proceed once you have committed to starting your rehabilitation process.

Gaining the best possible outcomes from your physiotherapy treatment requires more than just doing your exercises. This guide for our Edmonton and St. Albert physiotherapy patients outlines some concepts that can truly make a difference in your rehabilitation process.

Find a physiotherapist that you are comfortable with and trust with your care. 

While all physiotherapists are exceptionally well trained and well versed in a large variety of injuries and diseases, everyone brings their unique background and experiences into their treatment process. At Advantage Sport Medicine and Physiotherapy, we employ physiotherapists with different areas of expertise and interests. For example, we have physiotherapists who are also professional skiers, physiotherapists who have worked with professional hockey, lacrosse, football, soccer and rugby teams, and therapists specializing in concussion and vestibular rehabilitation.

Whatever your needs are, we have a physiotherapist for you. If you would like to know a bit about our physiotherapy team, click the link to find the best therapist for you and your needs

Set clear and precise goals with your physiotherapist. 

While most people will say that their rehabilitation goal is to be pain-free, it is much more effective to set a series of short-term goals that give you something to work towards on the path to your long-term goal of being pain-free. These short-term goals can be as simple as being able to hold your baby for 15 minutes, walking to the mailbox at the end of the street, or jogging for 30 seconds straight. When setting these goals, we like to ensure each goal is “SMART”. 

S – Specific

M – Measurable 

A – Attainable 

R – Realistic 

T – Time (by when date) 

For example: instead of saying that your goal is to be able to go for a run following your diagnosis of plantar fasciitis, it is much more effective and “SMART” to say that you would like to run 3km at a 6:00 pace by July 17, if that is realistic for you and your injury.

One of the most significant difficulties in goal setting is ensuring your goals are realistic. You may need to modify your expectations regarding your return to sport/ work/ or function in some cases. For example, some professions allow for modified duties. Some jobs require you to be 100% before you can safely return to work, so being realistic about when you will be able to return to work is crucial for your recovery process. In sports, you may want to get back to playing games ASAP, but it may be essential for you to realize that it may take longer than expected to return to sport effectively.

Do the work. 

The best exercises for your injury are the ones that you do. There is no substitute for hard work. Your rehabilitation process will be prolonged and more difficult if you do not do the work. Most people treat an injury as an inconvenience. Still, if the injury was ‘big enough to impact your sport/job/function, then it requires some respect. Treating your rehab as a job and not an inconvenience allows you to learn from it and to be consistent with it.

Have you ever wondered why professional athletes can recover from their injuries faster than the general population? It is not because they have superhuman genetics or healing superpowers, or fancy healing machines. It is because, for them – rehabilitation IS their job.

Reward yourself, but don’t punish yourself. 

When you set your goals, it is essential to reward yourself once you achieve your small goals – a win is a win! Doing this will keep you excited about your progress and keep you motivated to keep going. 

While rewarding yourself when you achieve goals is important, it is also important not to punish yourself if you miss goals or experience setbacks. Just like in life, your rehabilitation process will have ups and downs. Setbacks are common – you tweaked your knee again because you tripped on your dog, or you are just having a bad week in terms of pain – but it is crucial to come back to the goals you set at the beginning of your physiotherapy session. Pain is a terrible marker for success – pain makes a grand entrance to the party, but it is always the last to leave. Sometimes the pain is just… pain. Most people will focus on how they are feeling RIGHT now, but they tend to forget how far they have come. Two steps forward and one step back is still moving forwards.

Use this injury as an opportunity to become a better version of yourself. 

Regardless of if your injury was from poor posture, physical inactivity, poor movement mechanics, muscle imbalances or weakness, poor mobility, or trauma, you can use this as an opportunity to work towards becoming a better version of yourself. Maybe you have realized that you should make healthier decisions or prioritize time for consistent and well-rounded physical activity or that you need to improve your running mechanics before training for your next half-marathon. By tidying up your weak spots, you become a better version of yourself, whether injured or not.