A Physical Therapist’s List Of Red Flags To Keep An Eye Out For In A Physical Therapist

Disclaimer #1: You have the right to choose the provider that fits you best. 

Disclaimer #2: I’m fully aware this Blog post will probably upset some of my physical therapist colleagues. 

Alright, now that we’ve got the disclaimers out of the way, let’s jump into the good stuff. I truly believe that as a physical therapy profession, we can be better. We NEED to be better to help our patients live their happiest, healthiest lives. We go to school for SEVEN years and earn a doctorate that gives us the honor of being musculoskeletal specialists. Doctors, surgeons, coaches, and patients are relying on us to help resolve pain, improve strength, and maximize function. 

Unfortunately, every profession has its good… and not-so-good apples. Just like one barista can make a fantastic oat milk latte, another may miss the mark. One surgeon may listen to your concerns and patiently address them while another makes you wait for an hour and then spend 10 seconds telling you “it’s normal” to have pain or weakness.  (Side note, it’s NOT normal, but that’s a topic for another blog post). 

Here are my 5 RED FLAGS to look out for when choosing a physical therapist. 

1. You’re getting minimal 1-on-1 time with your PT.

Did your PT do an initial evaluation and then either a) pass you off to an assistant/tech or b) give you a packet of exercises to do? You deserve skilled hands and eyes on you to make sure you’re moving properly. Assistants and techs have their place, but they’re not authorized to change or modify a treatment plan. Frequent check-ins from your PT are vital to your progress.

2. Your PT isn’t doing frequent assessments.

If you’re getting lots of 1-1 time with your PT, that’s great! Now what’s happening during that 30-minute appointment? Are they re-testing your strength and mobility? Are they checking your squat or deadlift form? You wouldn’t know if your weight-loss plan was working if you never stepped on the scale… your PT should be frequently re-testing to make sure your treatments are working.

3. You’ve been doing the same exercises for months

This goes hand-in-hand with #2. Your PT should be checking up on your exercises and progressing them based on your current status and limitations. Not only is it SO boring to do the same 3 exercises for months, it’s likely not challenging you enough to make you better.

4. You aren’t doing anything at home

The only thing that might be worse than doing the same exercises for months is doing NOTHING. Your PT should be giving you *something* to do between appointments to help you reach your goals. This could be stretches, exercises, modifications to your current gym routine, or stress management.

5. Your PT doesn’t exercise.

Oof. Would you go to a dentist with bad breath? How about a cardiologist who smokes? If your PT is encouraging you to exercise (as they SHOULD), they need to be practicing what they preach. If your goals are to improve your ability to exercise, you need a PT that understands and can be a source of motivation for you. 

If your current PT is doing any of these things, I’d carefully consider if you’re meeting your goals and making the progress you’d like. Remember my first disclaimer:  it’s your right to choose your provider. If you’re happy with your care, you can ignore these red flags and continue on your way. But if you’re not, please, please do yourself a favor and find a  provider that meets your needs. You truly deserve it! At The Body Lab, we genuinely believe that you should get the best, and we’re going to give you 1-1 care with frequent re-assessments and a tailored exercise program. We’ll rally with you on your journey to feel your best.

Questions? Looking to book an appointment with us? Shoot us an email at hello@thebodylablnk.com or book an appointment easily online here. We can’t wait to work with you!



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