Therapy vs Therapeutic…And why you’re screwed.


There is a difference between what feels good and what works and is actually designed to improving your condition.  Deciding you don’t care you just want what feels good isn’t helping you.

Please allow yourself to be a fly on the wall for a repetitive daily conversation in my clinic.

Me: “Ok Ms. Jones, after your exam and evaluation, I feel confident this is what you have and I feel comfortable that is the correct diagnosis. And here is what you can do at home to take care of this issue. Kind of an “at home rehab idea” that will speed your issue and speedily FIX it.

Patient:  “But I don’t like to do that. I do this instead, ____” …example: use a hot shower, massage, hot tub, stretch, etc)

Me: “Yes, I understand that feels good but that approach is incorrect, actually bad for you and is a big part of why you are not getting better.   Here is what you should do instead.”

Patient:   “But it just feels good.”

Me:   “agh”, pull my hair out (old days, I now have no hair!)

Every. Single. Day. Forever.

Hopefully this will clear things up quickly.  2 words, similar in nature but different in application.

Therapy = treatment intended to relieve or heal a disorder

Therapeutic (or soothing) = feels good

These ideas and terms are similar and at times overlap but they are not the same thing and odds are SEVERELY against your understanding the difference and how to apply it. This is because we all tend to just follow our ‘chocolate lab brains’.  Our chocolate lab brains are non stop pleasure seeking and affirmation based.  You cant tell a lab anything.   It knows what it wants.

Feels good triumphs over better advice.

It is your fault but I won’t blame you – because I know why. Because it really does feel sooo good.

The problem however is – it’s also sabotaging your ability to get better.

Therapy vs. Comforting vs. soothing vs it feels good is an easy concept to understand but hard to implement. Let me give you a few examples I see in my clinic daily. Over and over and over.

– Heck guys,

This whole concept of you doing what feels good vs. what is appropriate treatment is the reason I started the whole damn website.

I do this lecture 5-10x a day – one person at a time. The hope is that an online following will help me reach more people, a shotgun type approach to health.


Ice vs. Heat – I’ve absolutely chiropractic napalmed this topic to death – I won’t make you read it again. If you are inflamed… don’t use heat – that’s the opposite of anti-inflammatory – that called pro-inflammatory.

“But how can I tell if I’m inflamed?”   There are some tricks to the trade I can do clinically but an easy way is to just ask yourself – does ibuprofen (Advil) or naproxen (Aleve) help take the edge off? Yes?   Those are anti-inflammatories   It says so on the box – there’s no pain relieving drugs in there, just anti-inflammatory. So don’t pro – inflammatory treat it.

“But it just feels so good to take a hot shower.” I know. I know. But 15 minutes later it hurts again…yeah – it certainly does feel good.

Sorry, I told you I wouldn’t rant but it’s seriously our most discussed and played out things and one of the only few true negatives I have at work.   I HATE this lecture and I do it clinically  100x a week!

Stretching  – as in “I don’t stretch enough” or “I stretch all the time, I have an hour routine I’ve been doing for three years now”

(see the 4 Reasons Why You Have Tight Muscles and What To Do About It on this site with a Batman picture included)

There are many reasons for tight muscles – you may actually have the version you need to stretch but I doubt it. That’s what our coaches in the 90’s said and you’ve been stretching since – hasn’t worked real well huh?

Oh what’s that?    But it feels good?  Great. Stop reading this immediately and start it again next year when you’re still messed up.

The answer is – know what you have first …For the most part – the entire back of you is always stretched because we all sit too long. Just stretching a tight muscle is lame and most likely is slowing down your recovery.  Contracting the Posterior Chain (aka “UnWinding” the Seated Position)

Rest for an injury

An acute issue probably needs a little rest – emphasis on LITTLE.

“I sprained my ankle 4 mo. ago and rested it (the entire time) and yesterday on my first run it came right back.  You think I should rest it more?”

Guess what? You didn’t rest – you just did nothing. Dude! We’re talking like atrophy, weakness-induced-level time off. You forgot to do something and anything. You were not pro-active. Rest by itself is by no means therapy. Ever.


I love massage – I have three awesome LMT’s in my clinic. But, it is not for every issue – every time. If you have difficulty getting out of bed each morning because your back is killing you and if you sneeze or cough you’d collapse in pain – then why on Earth would you figure lying facedown for an hour would HELP?! You won’t be able to get up off the table!

advice I’ve given already…you need to know what you have.

Second example – you want to use massage as a therapy – as in a FIX for a condition. “Oh man, I hold all my stress right here!” (imagine my mom pointing to her shoulders)

But you’ve been getting massages every week for the last two years. Guess what? It’s not working. If it was what you needed, it would have fixed you by now.

“But doc, it feels so good”

On this example I’ll throw you a bone here…If you are getting a massage for the sole reason that it feels good, personally I’m ok with that. It’s your money – use it however you want to. It does feel good and hands-on therapy has some seriously great side effects emotionally and mentally. BUT – you can’t complain when it doesn’t work as a therapy. As a fix. I don’t want to hear, “Oh I tried massage for about 2 years, it never worked for me.”

Give your poor Therapist a chance – don’t ask a massage therapist for miracles….”But my tight muscles, what about them?” Read 4 Reasons Why You Have Tight Muscles and What To Do About It one more time please.  You didn’t “get it” the first time.

My last example is the guys that are the polar opposite – the “no pain- no gain” crowd. Basically, most of my friends:   crossfitters, wrestlers, football types, powerlifters etc. The guys and girls that think if it doesn’t hurt like crazy it’s not doing anything. These guys will take a foam roller idea and in 3 weeks be using a metal weight bar to really get in and crush the muscles. “DUDE IT HURTS LIKE HELL TO CRUSH MY MUSCLES AND ROLL MY SHOULDERS OUT WITH A SHOTPUT, BUT IT’S LIKE A GOOD HURT ….BRO!”


I don’t even want to get into this right now. If you are serious about fixing an issue, and want to go it alone, I’m cool with that – get to know your body.

My advice would be to try your therapy of choice out for 4 sessions.     4 trys.

If you haven’t got serious results in 4 sessions, my bet is that you are doing something wrong – try a different approach.

Learn. Get smarter with your health. Maybe you’ve heard the quote, “First, Don’t fool yourself and…You’re the easiest person to fool.”

Quit fooling yourself – Quit lying to yourself with lame justification of “feels good” and FIX your body.

4 thoughts on “Therapy vs Therapeutic…And why you’re screwed.

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