RESET - make. an immediate change to the body, often through some form of manual therapy. Think of hitting the "delete" button or even doing a complete system restart of a device. Many degrees of resetting exist, which can be something as gentle as light stretching, to something more potent such as a spinal manipulation. Regardless of what technique we choose, we're trying to make a change to the body.
REINFORCE - but we can't stop there, although that is where many people do stop, being sent away from the clinic and just hoping that that therapy "sticks," or if not, making plans to keep coming back again and again to keep addressing the same problem over and over (think of those times you've been told you need to sign up for a plan of 2-3x per week for weeks on end...). Reinforcing stage is where we teach the body to move differently. If you typically round your back when you hinge forward, this is where we might teach you different mechanics to spare your spine. But remember, change is unlikely to happen unless we actually DO something, which is what the reinforcement stage is all about.
RELOAD - This is where we take our reinforcement strategies and hit the "SAVE" button. Ever have that feeling of getting great therapy but then within a day or so you feel like nothing much has changed? We can avoid this phenomenon by applying loading strategies to the body to remind it to make a change. Remember the example of changing how we bend forward? To transition from REINFORCE to RELOAD, we'd take that same pattern but make it more demanding such as by picking up a weight. This is how we avoid the problem of feeling great off the table and doing some light movement but then feeling like we take a few steps back when increasing the demand or intensity of the movement. This doesn't mean we challenge ourselves at a high intensity without proper progression; it simply means we need to provide something (such as a weight) that speaks to the body and reminds it to make some type of permanent change.
Allan Phillips, PT, DPT is owner of Ventana Physiotherapy