If you’ve been to physical therapy, you likely got a home exercise program. Research says that if you do your home exercise program, you’ll have a significantly better chance of meeting your goals and feeling better. Not doing your program increases the risk of recurrent injury or flare-ups with less positive outcomes long term. Even though they’re important, adherence to home exercise programs is terrible. It’s estimated that only 40 to 50% of patients do their exercises the way they’re supposed to. What can you do to make sure you do your exercises and get the best outcomes? Here are a few ideas.
Think about what’s going to get in your way – your schedule, that you’ll forget, or that you don’t have the space or equipment that you need. Once you figure out the problems, come up with solutions. Put your exercises in your schedule, talk to your PT about equipment, or adjusting your program to fit the time you have. If you solve problems before they start, they’re no longer problems.
Address pain and beliefs
You’ll need to work with your PT on these. If your exercises cause pain, you’re not going to do them. When your PT prescribes your exercises, try them out. If there’s pain, ask your PT about modifications to make them more comfortable. The other thing might need addressed are your beliefs. If you believe that the exercises won’t help, or that they’re a waste of time, you won’t do them. Again, work with your PT to understand why they’re prescribing those exercises, and what they’re meant to do. Once you know why you’re doing those exercises, you’re more likely to do them.
People who have social support are more likely to do their exercises. This is why CrossFit and group exercise classes work. Find a family member or friend to help you stay consistent with your exercises. Your PT can help here too. Have someone ask if you’re doing your exercises, and how they’re going. This will keep you accountable and more likely to do them.
If you like technology and gadgets, they can help you be consistent with your exercises. There are plenty of apps that can track your exercise. Seeing that streak of days you’ve exercised will motivate you not to break it. Smartwatches and activity trackers can fill the same role.
Doing your home exercise program will help you get the most out of PT. With a little planning and a little help, you can make sure you’re one of the 50% of the people who do their home therapeutic exercises consistently to get the best outcomes.
When you say the words “physical therapy” most people automatically assume you have had surgery. Yet physical therapy goes beyond post-surgical care restoring strength, endurance, flexibility and stability to people who have been injured, are in pain, or have experienced an illness. Through therapeutic exercise, it is possible to have your function restored and live a life that is pain free. Contact PREP Performance Center in Lincoln Square, Irving Park, Lakeview, Horner Park, Roscoe Village & Ravenswood Chicago, IL to schedule your appointment and find out how we can relieve your pain.
What is therapeutic exercise?
The goal of any exercise program is to leave you feeling healthier and stronger than when you began. Therapeutic exercise has similar goals, but incorporates a wide range of activities that help you regain or maintain your strength, flexibility, balance, endurance, or stability. Whether you have been injured, experienced an illness, or are simply noticing you are losing your physical abilities, therapeutic exercise can prevent impairment and disability while improving your overall fitness. Typically performed as a part of a physical therapy treatment plan, this type of exercise is prescribed by a physical therapist. See related article from media.lanecc.edu.
Types of Therapeutic Exercises
Each therapeutic exercise is classified by its purpose.
Range of Motion – These exercises are aimed at increasing the range of motion in your joints and soft tissues. This may be done through active, passive or assisted stretching activities designed to help your joints move better, without pain.
Muscle Performance – Increasing power, endurance and muscle strength is vital to good balance and stability as well as bone and joint health. Resistance exercises and endurance exercises are designed to increase muscle strength without injury.
Posture – Hours spent at desks, bending over keyboards, poor muscle tone, or simple habit can all lead to terrible posture. What you may not realize is that posture has a direct impact on muscle strength, balance and a tendency toward injury. Posture exercises are aimed at correcting poor posture, not just when you exercise, but in your life in general which can alleviate aches and pains.
Balance & Coordination – Every time you stand or sit, bones and muscles work in conjunction with one another to help you remain upright. Every time you stand, walk, sit, brush your teeth, cook a meal, or take care of your daily activities, you are testing your coordination between the muscular and skeletal systems in your body. Your ability to care for yourself or your loved ones depends on your ability to balance and the coordination of your arms, legs, hands, and feet. That is why balance and coordination exercises are so important, especially after an injury or illness. If you cannot balance, if you lose coordination, you lose the ability to care for yourself.
Relaxation – Relaxation is part of therapeutic exercise? You bet! While it is important to work the muscles, joints, and soft tissues in the body, it is also important to help them relax. Pain relieving techniques including heat, cold, electrical stimulation, massage, or trigger point therapy can all help the body relax, improve your sleep, lower your blood pressure, and keep you coming back for more exercise!
Area Specific Exercises – It’s easy to think of exercise as something we do with our muscles, but it is also important to help the body’s other systems. In these cases, exercises that target breathing or circulation may be recommended to help speed healing, improve blood flow or lower stress on the body.
How does therapeutic exercise relieve pain?
It may seem counterintuitive to exercise when you are in pain. After all, the last thing you want to do when you are uncomfortable is make yourself more uncomfortable. Yet when you treat pain with medication and rest, you are only allowing the supporting muscles to weaken, causing greater pain and less functionality of the area. A physical therapist is trained to evaluate your body’s function, strength and range of motion as well as your pain levels when you perform basic tasks. They can then create a customized treatment plan, including therapeutic exercise, that can strengthen weak areas, restore function to healing or surgically repaired joints, and reduce your overall pain levels. Not only can you experience a pain free life, you can do so with greater strength and endurance than before. Still curious how physical therapy services and therapeutic exercise can help you? Let us conduct an evaluation and help you get on the road to recovery.
For more information, Contact PREP Performance Center at Lincoln Square, Irving Park, Lakeview, Horner Park, Roscoe Village & Ravenswood Chicago, IL centers.