In addition to my shoulder pain patient being told not to ever lift anything over shoulder height, these are some other examples of "Don't" messages that I have heard from patients:
* Many patients with back pain are told to stop bending or twisting their back
* I had another person with back pain who was told not to lift anything over 5 pounds
* I have had runners with knee pain who were told to stop running
* A few patients with knee arthritis where told stop exercising (walking, riding bike, strength training) because it was going to wear out the joint faster
The frustrating part with all of these is that the information that the patient received usually came from another health care provider- their surgeon, family doctor, personal trainer, chiropractor, and previous physical therapists. Although well-meaning, this information really is not helpful for most painful conditions-specifically if the pain has been present for a longer period of time. In an acute injury (one that just happened recently), it makes sense to temporarily avoid activities that increase symptoms. The key word here is temporarily-once the normal tissue healing time for an acute injury has passed, it is imperative that the injured area is moved, worked, and strengthened in a progressive way.
These "don't" messages many times leave people limiting the activities that they enjoy and can have a very negative impact on their overall function in day-to-day activities. In addition, the reduction in physical activity that comes about after being told to don't do things, can lead to more serious health problems-ones that can actually kill you (diabetes, cardiac problems, cancer, etc).
What I communicate to the people I work with is that there is no movement or activity that is ever permanently off limits. Their is so much evidence to support the need to move and strengthen an injured or painful area that not doing this is really just making you worse!
When done correctly-with guidance, education, and gradual progression-our bodies can adapt to any movement, position, or activity. This eventually allows the person to get back to using their body the way it was designed to move and get back to doing the things they enjoy.
If you feel stuck-not knowing what is ok, or fearful because you have been told many things to "DON"T" do, get some help. Let's work together to get you back to living the life you want.
Thanks for reading,