Variety is the Spice of Therapy

What do kettlebells, yoga mats, hula hoops, and a TRX system have in common?

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They are all ways to challenge expectations about what you can or can not do!

Pain gets in the way of life when it changes how you sit, stand, move, do your daily things like taking a shower, having a poo, eating, and even being intimate! When these limitations happen, you are faced with the challenge of earning back your tolerance or skill! This is hard work.

It can be intimidating. You may have been told by healthcare professionals things we know to be wrong (out of date is a kindness to well-meaning providers/friends).  Things like:

“Running will damage your knees”

“Bending wrong will hurt your back”

“Your phone is ruining your neck”

“Pregnancy makes you hurt and leak and there’s nothing you can do about it”

“Too much sitting will create fascial torsions and Trigger Points that can never fully go away”

None of those things are reasonable beliefs – but they are catchy!  They scare you into needing help, they make you afraid to push your limits, they steal from you your resiliency.  They are great business models – and horrendously bad for health! The evidence is mounting against using such fearful words, and towards promoting resiliency and your natural health.

What then?  What is the key to getting out of pain and back to the things you love?
Hard work.  Repetition.  Challenge. Courage.  A helping hand when it’s rough.  An encouraging word when it feels too hard.  This is the essence of physical therapy! 

How does moving into discomfort or challenging your beliefs about movement help with pain?  A carefully set up program is matched to you, not taken from a pre-made sheet of exercises, but shaped by your priorities, your preferences, and starts right where you are.  This program uses common things, from balls to weights, maybe yoga, maybe the stairs in your house.  Creativity and play are important to include in any movement program, and joy is too often left out of therapy and self-care.

We play with these ideas in the course I teach to health professionals Pain, Science, and Pelvic Health with examples from acute pain episodes to persistent pain that hasn’t responded to care. If you’re in therapy and following sheet after sheet of boring exercises – consider shaking it up! If you’re a therapist looking to move past pre-programmed formulas so that you truly can individualize your care to your patient, come to my class where we explore graded exposure to all these things and more!



Sandra Hilton, PT, DPT, MS
Doctor of Physical Therapy