Why do you go to your specific Physical Therapist or Chiropractor? Is it because your friend recommended them? Maybe a family member? Because they take your insurance? Or maybe you thought you had to because it is where your Physician said that they were going to send your referral.
While these are all good places to start, they are not necessarily the best reason to choose a clinician for your rehab. What if you approached choosing a Physical Therapist like you approached buying a car. Take a referral from someone you trust, go test drive or look at the specifics of what it has to offer, and look at all options before making a decision. The truth is, very few people approach Physical Therapy as such an investment as they do purchasing a new car. But wouldn’t you want the best fit for your specific needs and goals? Not just the person that your friend or doctor liked. Maybe that Therapist is great and was exactly what they needed, but what if they don’t have what you need or have different goals than you do. You should never give time or money to a clinician before you know what they are going to do for you and make sure its a good fit to help you achieve your goals. We are lucky enough today to have a multitude of different available Physical Therapy clinics and in most states, including Colorado, do not need a Physician referral to utilize them. So why not find the one that is perfect for you specifically?
Anyone can give the right rehab protocol for allowing a hamstring to heal and "return to sport", it is not rocket science. If you are spending time and money on someone to give you a massage, 15-20 exercises that you can do in a gym or at home followed a manual muscle test and a specific date from initial injury that you can expect to return to your sport without specific testing, well I am sorry, but you are wasting your money if you really want to get back to performing at a higher level than when you came in. Regardless if it is an in-network or out-of-network clinic, find a clinician that cares as much about your goals as you do. Your goal is not to be able to do 20 single leg sit to stands without pain. Sure that may be part of the process, but your goal is to go do Spartan Races, or play in a soccer tournament, or go dancing 5 nights a week. Make sure that is their goal too.
I have seen, hell worked in, the clinics where you get 20 minutes (hopefully) with a Physical Therapist to give you some feel good stuff and then send you off to do exercises either on your own or with someone else “watching”. Why should you pay your hard earned money for a cash rate or your co-pay or co-insurance just to be put on a program that you could have found on youtube while you wait 4-6 weeks and hope that you heal up because your therapist either doesn’t have time or doesn’t care to personalize your treatment and make damn sure that you are going to be ready for what you want to do.
My dad has been having issues with a pinched nerve in his neck lately and has been getting recommendations from friends and co-workers to go see a chiropractor or get an MRI and possibly a shot. As a Physical Therapist, I, obviously, want him to go to a PT that understands what is going on and will actually spend time to not just tell him the same crap and give him 2 or 3 exercises with a hot pack and some E-stim, but will figure out what caused the pinched nerve, what are his weaknesses and poor movement patterns that predisposed him to his dysfunction and actually help him get better and prevent recurrance in the future. The problem is, that I don’t know any Therapists in my home town and don’t even trust my own profession enough to just have him blindly go to a clinic. Isn’t that sad? That I can’t even recommend going to PT because there is a good chance he ends up in the same shit that he has quit multiple times before for different issues because he realized he could do everything on his own or on youtube and felt he was wasting his time?
I’m not implying that every clinician has to be an absolute expert on ice skating, or dancing, or obstacle races, or quidditch or whatever it is that you want to do. But find the clinician that is passionate enough about getting you back to that activity to figure out what the demands are and how they can help you. I have helped plenty of people get back to things that I have never attempted in my life. But I cared enough to learn about those things to ensure I was giving them proper instruction and techniques to help them achieve their goals. That is what you should shop for in a Physical Therapist, or any healthcare professional for that matter. Now I am not saying that I am the best option for every persont that will read this and that all other clinicians are inferior to me. There are plenty of people that are better than me at different things, or may just will connect with you better for whatever reason. Which is absolutely fine. I hope that every one out there finds that perfecte match for a clinician that they trust and want to become their primary resource for rehabilitation, whether it be me or not does not matter to me. All I am saying is that you live in your body every single minute of every single day, why not invest in it by making sure you are spending your time and money on the most efficient care that you can. Do not choose a Therapist or a Chiropractor or anyone because you “thought you had to” or because they are a friend of a friend. Call every clinic in your area, find out what they offer and what you can expect there. Go stop in and look to see if their clinic has what you actually need or if it is just a few thera-bands and a stationary bike. Shop around for someone that matches what you want and what you need. It will be worth every dollar that you spend and your results will be infinitely more positive.