The Difference Between Corrective Exercise & Physical Therapy

The Difference Between Corrective Exercise & Physical Therapy

I'd like to share and discuss a question I get asked all the time.  How is Corrective Exercise different from Physical Therapy?

Primarily, the two biggest difference are:

1.  Corrective Exercise is a non-medical approach to the pain problem.  

We do not use medication, manipulation, surgery, or any kind of machine to move the body.   It is not covered by insurance, because physicians do not write a prescription for the service.

2.  Corrective Exercise Specialists are trained to treat the body as a unit.

Instead of isolating areas and solely treating the site where pain is localized (your symptom), we will identify, address and eliminate the root cause (your posture relative to "blue-print design") of WHY the symptom occurred in the first place. 

If you see a physical therapist for shoulder pain, in general you'll be given exercises and modalities to address issues specific to the affected area. 

When you come to Pain Free Posture MN with pain, we look at you, the person as a WHOLE.  Take for instance, shoulder pain. 

Instead of focusing symptomatically on your shoulder, we'll evaluate your entire posture which includes the shoulder, hip, knee and ankle position, your spinal curve and pelvic placement, and what your feet and hands are doing relative to their proper blue-print design and function is.  We will select the right type and sequencing of corrective exercises to address the misalignments in the body that impact your shoulder pain.  

One of my ALL TIME favorite (and cheeky) explanations on the difference between a Corrective Exercise Program like Postural Therapy versus other modalities was written by my colleague Matt Hsu (Upright Health - San Diego, CA).  

On a hot San Diego summer day, you're lying on the sidewalk, overheated and dehydrated.  

A doctor walks along, hands you a cup of water and a bag of ice to put on your head and says, "that should fix that problem." You feel fine for an hour and then you're back in the same situation.

A chiropractor walks along and kneels down by you with a spray bottle with electric fan and cools you off for ten minutes and tells you, "I'll be back in two days and we'll do that again over the next 4 weeks to ensure you never overheat or get thirsty again." In 45 minutes, you're overheating again.

A physical therapist happens along, puts an ice pack on your head for 5 minutes, removes it for 5 minutes, puts it back on, removes it, puts it back on, removes it and finally says you just need to practice being exposed to heat more and that he'll be back tomorrow to do the same with you for the next 12 weeks until you build your endurance to heat.

An Egoscue® Posture Alignment Therapist comes by, shows you the way to an air conditioned room with water, and gives you a GPS navigator so that you can always find your way back.

We work to get your whole body moving properly so that the symptoms of poor body mechanics (pain, fatigue, numbness, stiffness) resolve themselves.  Rather than treating the symptom, we address the context that sets the stage for the symptom.

Another and profound difference between the two is PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY.  
Ultimately, postural therapy puts YOU in control!  
Yep, you read it right.  
YOU are empowered to take charge of your own recovery

When you partner with a Corrective Exercise Specialist, we'll identify the compensations and dysfunctions pertaining to your current physical function, and develop a SMART goal plan.

We'll give you postural education at each session along with a menu of corrective exercises designed to:
  • identify anatomical dysfunction and limitation
  • restore and maintain the body’s full range of motion
  • promote well-being through physical activity
  • provide a method for overcoming phyiscal limitation
  • enhance performance of professional and recreational athletes

You'll receive tools to get and keep yourself out of pain, so you don’t have to continue making appointments with symptom focused specialists over and over again. 

You'll become an expert of your own recovery be learning how to recognize what works best for your body to keep it out of pain.  

We'll teach you corrective exercises and ensure that you maximize your potential in each position, BUT (yes, there's a BUT)....


Until you recognize the need, the absolute requirement for taking responsibility, you will not succeed. Once you do accept the responsibility, however, the Egoscue Method never fails. Never. No drugs, no surgery, no machines, no miracles. Just You. A normal person, doing normal things.
~ Pete Egoscue

If you are willing to accept personal responsibility for your own health instead of looking to be “fixed” then Corrective Exercise programming is right for you!  Please reach out if you have questions.  We're in this together, and I am here to help!