Columnists Michelle Jang

Don’t Mess Up the Work!

By Michele S Jang, PT

I cannot take credit for this concept. A client shared this idea and I thought it worth passing along. A psychotherapist, he would often explain to his clients that they typically come to therapy one hour per week. He would then go on to state that there are 168 hours in a week and ask his clients ‘What are you doing the other 167 hours that you are not in therapy?’

This raises the question of who is truly responsible for making a difference in one’s life. Who can improve one’s emotional or physical health and general well being?

In physical therapy, we see a client for one to three times a week for an hour a session. This leaves between 165 to 167 hours that one can use outside. What is done outside the clinic arguably is more important then what is done in the clinic.

This does not undervalue time spent in the clinic. Physical therapy treatment should be directed to the client’s exact needs in order to achieve the greatest impact and change in the time we have together. The adjustments we make to someone’s body are often decisive in helping the client move past obstacles which impede improvement. Examples of this are balancing the pelvis, adjusting the shoulder joint and orthotics. However, no matter how much we make alignment changes with the patient or decrease their pain, the question remains: what is the patient doing outside of physical therapy to maintain these changes?

Education is another key aspect in physical therapy. Along with using our hands to realign the body, we advise on how to sleep at night, lift properly, drive, sit or stand at your work station. We explore how to perform the things you love such as reading in bed or paddling. We educate on how to be ‘smart’ using our smart phones without hurting our necks and hands. But as much as we can show how to move better during your day, there are still 165 to 167 hours of time in which it is the client’s responsibility to practice these teachings and use the experience. It’s hard to change ‘bad habits’, but hang in there, it’s worth the effort.

So, I remind clients lovingly, “Don’t mess up the work when you leave the clinic!” We want you to feel better.  At Spirit Winds we understand that changing your habits outside of therapy can be a challenge.  Let us know when you need our support and guidance. We are here to be your team cheering you on!

Michele S Jang, PT is a physical therapist who likes to look outside the box. She has been a physical therapist for over 22 years and has extensive training in manual therapy or the use of hands to help rehabilitate the body. Michele has been an instructor both in the United States and abroad. Her clinic offers Free Consults on Tuesday afternoons. Michele also has a team of therapists at Spirit Winds who offer an array of expertise on exercise, fall prevention, foot and shoe assessments, body mechanics and proper breathing technique to increase awareness and healing. Her team can be reached at 805 543-5100 or info@spiritwindstherapy.com.