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Don't Mess Up the Work!

Don’t Mess Up the Work!

I cannot take credit for this concept. A dear client shared this idea with me and I thought that it made a lot of sense so I thought I would pass it along.

My client is a retired psychotherapist. When he was actively practicing he would often explain to his clients that they typically come to therapy one hour per week. He would then go on to elaborate 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 provides a great perspective on who’s truly responsible for making a difference in one’s life whether that be to improve one’s emotional or physical health and wellbeing.

In physical therapy, we may see a client for one to three times a week for an hour a session. This still leaves between 165 to 167 hours that the person is on their own. What one does outside of physical therapy arguably is more important than what we do in physical therapy.

I want to make clear that this does not undervalue time spent in physical therapy. Physical therapy treatment should be directed and exact to the needs of the client in order to achieve the greatest impact and change in the time we have together. The adjustments we make to someone’s body can be huge to help assist the client in moving past obstacles towards getting better. An example of this is balancing the pelvis or making adjustments to their shoulder joint or orthotics. However, no matter how much we can make alignment changes with the patient or decrease their pain, the questions remains as to what is the patient doing outside of physical therapy to keep 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 workstation. We often 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. Again, as much as we can give tips on how to move better during your day, there are still 165 to 167 hours of time to which it is the client’s responsibility to take these concepts and practice them. Often 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 physical therapy!” Truly I want them to feel better and will help guide them in their rehabilitation. At Spirit Winds we understand that changing your habits outside of therapy can be a challenge. Let us know if you need our support and guidance. We are here to be your cheering team!

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

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