"I am so much better," reported one of my clients last week.
"Are you sure?" I responded, teasing him a bit. "How do you know?"
At first, he looked at me incredulously, but then realized I was expecting an answer.
"I must be", he replied, "because I cleaned the garage yesterday, moved boxes into the attic, and still played nine holes of golf. My back would not have let me do that two weeks ago."
His answer represents a very important principle- the best way to measure improvement is tracking function, not just discomfort. Discomfort can be very fluctuating and deceiving, but function is a much more realistic measure of progress. For example, I enjoy cycling through the country roads of central Illinois. If you ask me if I am a bit tired after a ride, this is almost always true. Measuring fatigue is not that helpful, as it is hard to measure and occurs after both a 15 and a 50-mile ride. Capacity for distance is a better marker for improvement than the presence of fatigue.
With muscular issues, frequency and intensity are probably the best markers of progress. How often are you currently experiencing the discomfort and how does this compare to before we addressed it? Is the general trend in the right direction? When it does happen, is it as intense as it used to be? How much does it impact your life?
Tracking function is much more helpful than the typical verbal pain scale (1-10), which is a study in frustration for everyone. Clients are unsure what the reference point is- what is a "6" really? Providers are relatively unsure of what to do with this information once it is given. When we at BWA do use a scale, we much prefer the one below, which tracks function, giving meaning to the numbers.
Massage therapy has a wonderful capability to be used for restoration and renewal, a wonderful antidote to the stressful world in which we live. More targeted techniques also have the capability to impact pain and discomfort in a very positive way. Having an accurate way to measure progress is an important part of the process.
All of us at BWA are working hard to make your life more comfortable and productive by honing our craft of Precision Neuromuscular Therapy approaches to muscular pain. Thank you for supporting us in that effort.