On physical therapy

Exercise bands, small weights, humbling times

Nikki Barr
3 min readApr 12, 2022


My first session of physical therapy happened about a month ago. It was the assessment where we reviewed my goals and current abilities. We talked about my desire to simply want one day a week with the trust that I would do the work in the between times was met. Who knew asking for what you wanted would work? (Ok, a lot of people but it’s new to me.) I was sent home on stretches and isometrics that first week, and quickly progressed.

When people find out I was a power lifter and ask about how much I lifted, they are always surprised — unless they, too, were (or know other) power lifters. I am always a bit taken aback when a PT is surprised by the numbers since they work with all types. But, I guess if you are looking to where I am today, maybe imagining that is a bit tougher. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit it’s sad and hard for me to understand sometimes myself.

Selfie from March 4, 2017

When pics like this one pop up in my memories, I’m proud but also miss it. A lot. It’s been four years since I have been able to do heavy squats like this or dead lifts and about three years for bench presses. It was seven years ago last week that I did my first even power lifting session. I still remember the feel of the excitement that day.

The third week of physical therapy, the therapist handed me a 5-pound dumbbell to use to do squats. I took the weight with enthusiasm; to be holding anything with weight and moving again was an amazing feeling. At the end of my 20 reps, feeling a bit like I may have moved a mountain, I wiped the sweat from around my mask and noted just how humbling it was to be feeling a 5-pound front squat with such fierceness.

Photo by VD Photography on Unsplash

My fourth session was at the end of March. I got to use an elliptical where 5 minutes was my max and my dumb bell was 8-pounds. It was a rough session with everything coming difficult. I blamed my enduring headache and lack of sleep. The next morning I had expected leg soreness, nothing too terrible until the next day I bumped just above my knee on my desk. It didn't really hurt, but slowly the soreness escalated. It took a few days to realize I had managed to strain my quad tendon in PT. Of course I did.

Everything is a journey. I am working on practicing patience with myself. I knew the last session I wasn’t myself — that I was too tired, that I was forcing and pushing myself — that I was fighting my body. It’s a common theme. One I keep working to learn.



Nikki Barr

Normal human in an extraordinaire world. Memoir / Humor / Just Life