Tools of 7 Physical Therapy Titans

Their Best Advice For Pain Prevention

Pain Prevention Tools

Ever wonder about pain? Why do we have it? How do we prevent it?  I asked some of the most influential people in Physical Therapy and Orthopedics – leaders in the pain business – to give their best piece of advice about pain prevention. Here are their answers:

I think most people would benefit from moving more. Think of it as reversing your posture.  If you do the same thing with your body every day, overtime you may develop some imbalances as your body does a great job at adapting to the stress applied.  So, reversing your posture in a well structured exercise routine that emphasizes strength and mobility throughout the body will likely have the biggest impact in how well you feel and move.”

Mike Reinold: Physical Therapist, Strength and Conditioning Coach, Performance Enhancement Specialist, and Founder of Elite Physical Therapy, Sports Performance, and Personal Training in Boston, MA

Prevent pain?!

or

BE healthy?!

We’ve heard so much about PAIN and Health in 2016….

One thing is for sure – if you’re HAPPY you tend to do better overall… Now the good news is its what makes YOU HAPPY!.. So find something you love, read, walk, coffee daily with friends, play some music, whatever. Just do it and do it everyday! I’ll guarantee better health and less pain.”

Jerry Durham, MPT: Principal at San Francisco Sport and Spine Physical Therapy, Clinical Instructor, Nationally Recognized Physical Therapy Expert and Host of the Podcast “Healthcare DispuPTion.”

My best advice is: you don’t lose weight from exercise and you don’t get younger by exercising. When you feel pain, its actually a good thing, its telling you to stop. Too many people take Advil or Motrin so they can go to the gym. You have to curtail your exercises in a way that your body appreciates, not hurting your body. Thats my best advice. I’ve written a couple of books, three actually, all about exercising in the pool, Heal Your Hips and Heel Your Knees.”

Dr. Robert Klapper, M.D.: a leader in minimally invasive surgical technique, and holds nine patents on specially designed instruments used in the procedure. Dr. Klapper was the orthopedic consultant to the TV show “ER,” and is the co-host of ESPN Radio’s Weekend Warrior.

Pain serves as the body’s gauge signaling when something may be out of balance or out of it’s norm. It is not something to be feared. If fact, worrying about it may heighten your sensation of pain. Just like a car’s alarm system, it may be overly sensitive and goes off when there is no danger. The alarm should also not be ignored when someone is trying to break into your car. The key is giving pain the appropriate attention and understand that hurt does not necessarily mean harm.”

Judy Seto, PT, DPT, OCS, SCS, CSCS, MBA, PES, CES: Head Physical Therapist for the Los Angeles Lakers from 2011-2016. Currently the Director of Sports Performance at Select Physical Therapy.

Knowing the source of your pain is good, but recognizing the factors causing the pain is even more important, so you can minimize future recurrences.”

Clare Frank, DPT, MS, OCS, FAAOMPT: Director and founder of Movement Links neuromuscular rehabilitation seminars, is a dynamic speaker and widely recognized clinician. Her philosophy of managing musculoskeletal pain is rooted in developmental kinesiology and draws from various manual and neuromuscular approaches.

Our studies with athletic groups (baseball, basketball, etc) and occupational groups (police, firefighters, auto workers etc) all show that the most effective injury prevention program must be tailored to the individual based on an assessment. The assessment involves documenting the demands required to perform the tasks, together with assessment of the capability and competency of the individual. These include all variables of performance (biomechanical, psychosocial, physiological, neurological etc.). Then create a progressive program to address deficits that are tolerable and suitable to that individual. No clinician will ever train a St Bernard to win at the Greyhound track without injury.”

Professor Stuart McGill, Canada: professor of spine biomechanics at the University of Waterloo (Waterloo, ON, Canada). His advice is often sought by governments, corporations, legal experts and elite athletes and teams from around the world. His Website BackFitPro is dedicated to providing access to evidence-based information and quality products that assist in preventing and rehabilitating back pain.

One key piece of advice to help prevent pain in the future if you’re currently not having pain is to continue to move and be active. Stay diligent in your preparation of a daily routine. If you don’t have one, get on one, because eventually the body will compensate and pain will appear. These include stretches, strengthening little muscles, proper breathing, meditation and increasing mobility in all the joints.  Always get a physical therapy consultation before even thinking about getting imaging done, surgery or even seeing a surgeon.”

Drew Morcos, PT, DPT, SCS, OCS, DNSP, ATC, CSCS, FAAOMPT: Founder of MOTUS, a functional movement approach to clinical rehabilitation for amateur and professional athletes such as Russel Wilson and Antonio Brown.

Pain Prevention In a Nutshell

So there you have it – quite a variety of answers. Let me share with you the key points I’ve gleaned from these key leaders collective thoughts.

  1. Move more – get out of your typical postures and improve strength and mobility with exercise
  2. Do what you love, what makes you happy, every day.
  3. Don’t push through pain while exercising to achieve weight loss and looking younger – listen to your body.
  4. Don’ worry about or fear pain – give it the appropriate attention to restore balance.
  5. Find out what is causing your pain
  6. Get assessed by a PT to tailor an injury prevention program to you, based on your deficits and requirements.
  7. Get Physical Therapy First before imaging or surgery

Allow me to try and sum this up in one AMAZING statement! Here goes…

To prevent pain, we must find a way to do what we love while improving strength and mobility with an individualized exercise program prescribed from a Physical Therapist who can identify our impairments that may contribute to pain in the future. We must listen to our bodies and not wait to get assessed as a last resort, but do so in advance – as preparation for a life of wellness – not lived in fear, but in hope with an unending diligence to reach our highest potential function.”

Just do that and you’ll be fine 🙂

Question: What active steps are you taking to prevent pain in your future? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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  • Jamie Mellert Houck, DDS

    Awesome article. I’ve experienced joint pain and was helped tremendously by physical therapy. Thanks for sharing this information and helping others take steps to avoid pain!

    • Michael Curtis

      Thanks Jamie! Glad you found it helpful

  • Patrick Brandon PT, DPT

    As a physical therapist, we often see patients in our clinic for an injury, disability or pain that limits function. All too often patients suffer with the pain or limited function longer than necessary. They take over-the-counter medication, seek advice from friends or just chalk it up to “old age”. Finally, they see the PCP, get referred to the orthopedic surgeon and finally to a PT. Some great advice from the experts in this article. Thanks Michael for the article. I posted it on my FB page. Patrick Brandon PT, DPT. Owner, Optimum Performance Therapy Clinic.

    • Michael Curtis

      Patrick, unfortunately this sequence of events happens far too often. We need to spread the message that people can manage pain in other ways than meds and surgery. Thanks for the share!

  • Emma Lam, PT, DPT

    Great read and so true! Thanks for this. Movement is medicine. Or maybe, movement > medicine. 😉

    • Michael Curtis

      Nice Emma, I might just have to borrow that phrase.

      • Emma Lam, PT, DPT

        Thumbs up!