By SHEILA YONEMOTO, PT
Common sense as it pertains to activity level means using good judgment about how much you are able to do without causing injury.
I often have to remind patients to do only what they can safely do and not what they want to do. This is especially true of very active individuals who find themselves less active because of an injury and they cannot wait to get back to “normal routine.” They often feel they should be doing more, despite the fact that the body is injured and really cannot live up to the old standards, yet.
To develop more common sense, all it takes is an honest look at what really IS versus what you WISH it was. Put things in the correct perspective and then logical decisions can be made. Don’t think in terms of “I ought to be able to,” but rather, “This is how I am currently.”
Also remember your condition can be changed if you embark on a course to improve it. But it does take some planning and training.
Here are a few examples of how common sense is violated in “normal” people.
Teachers who have back pain and have been told to sit for only short periods of time end up grading papers for long hours in order to meet a deadline, sitting on the floor and bending over for 4 hours at a time.
A group of 40-year-olds getting together for the annual picnic who play tennis, basketball and football all in one day, just like in college.
The young man in his 20s who runs up the hill in the mountains to keep up with a 60-year-old, while gasping for air once at the top, not knowing the older man does this regularly and runs marathons.
Listen to your body. It will give you signals of when it has had enough of an activity. Or if you have reason to suspect your emotions may get the better of you, do some pre-planning as to what you can reasonably do without getting into trouble. I tell my patients to estimate what they think their limits are and then plan to do only 60-70% to provide a margin for error.
It is not uncommon to have flare-ups occur and patients usually recover in a short time. The feeling you will never recover following one of these episodes is usually more harmful than the actual physical setback. It is better to keep moving ahead instead of taking two steps forward and one step back. It’s quite hard on the emotions.
Certainly there will be times you will be lucky and will be spared any hardships from taking those chances. But, as the professional, I feel it is my duty to keep you moving toward the target without causing unnecessary delays or unwanted changes in the course.
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Sheila Yonemoto, P.T., has been a physical therapist for over 30 years, specializing in Integrative Manual Therapy utilizing a holistic approach. She can be reached at Yonemoto Physical Therapy, 55 S. Raymond Ave., Suite 100, Alhambra, CA 91801. Call (626) 576-0591 for a free consultation, or visit www.yonemoto.com for more information. Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.