Why Your Physical Therapy Exercises Aren’t Working

As a kinesiologist, I see so many patients forget this one thing.

David Liira, Kin.


I came across a meme yesterday of someone drowning while swimming in knee-deep water. The caption read, “Why am I still in pain? I’m doing all my rehab exercises!”. Other text bubbles surrounded the image such as ‘sleeps 4 hours per night’, and ‘eats poorly and is chronically dehydrated’. The premise is that exercise is only a tiny piece of the rehab story, even when done consistently as prescribed.

It’s hard to argue that adherence to a rehab plan is a bad thing, but it can often mask the other areas of life that are being neglected. This can essentially cancel out the benefits of the efforts being made, often leaving individuals even more frustrated and confused than before

While I believe that we should never be insensitive or condemn those who are going through genuine struggles, these matters shouldn’t be swept under the rug either. Life is complex. It gets messy. To pretend that completing a simple exercise therapy program will heal years of chronic pain caused by various factors is wishful thinking.

The image of drowning in water is powerful one because we have the tools to learn how to swim but often don’t know how to use them.

Keeping Your Head Above Water

As a kinesiologist and personal trainer, I’ve come across virtually every type of client/patient in my years of work. Each one comes in with their own story, injury, pain, and burdens. Most also come in with their biases and learned behavior around movement and rehab. When starting my career, I thought that 90% of my job would be exercise prescription. I thought that my knowledge of exercise physiology, biomechanics, and anatomy would automatically heal these people who were hurting.

How I was wrong.

The more I work with people, the more I feel like a life coach. Sure, things still revolve around the application of movement as therapy, but there’s a deeper element to it. I call it an embrace of the human condition.

I’m a firm believer that training is less about…



David Liira, Kin.

Kinesiologist. Writing on health and the human condition. Clap and I clap back. https://www.davidliirakin.com