Often people will attend physical therapy with their own ideas of what they need to do in order to improve. I once had a 15 y/o female with complaints of neck pain and stiffness.
She had been attending sessions for chiropractic manipulation for the last several years prior to trying physical therapy. Her main complaint during our initial conversation was that her neck was stiff; that she always felt the need to “crack it” to loosen it up. Therefore I expected her to have a very stiff neck with limited mobility.
However, when I checked her range of motion, she had the most motion of any patient that I had ever evaluated! She could sit in a chair and turn her head so far that she could almost look behind her! The result of excessive manipulation was excessive mobility, but without stability. Her problem was not that her neck was stiff, but that it was excessively mobile and needed muscular support.
Conversely, I have had patients who were extremely strong and had excellent muscle tone, but were unbelievably stiff, lacking mobility in order to move normally.
Our goal in physical therapy is to develop an optimal balance of strength and stability. People need to have good range of motion in their joints, flexibility in their muscles, and strength in their muscles in order to have the body function at peak performance. A good physical therapist is able to evaluate these areas and prescribe the necessary corrective measures to achieve this optimal balance of mobility and stability.
By: Mason Riegel, PT
Steve Bartz, PT