How important is it to do your Home Exercise Program?
You’ve made it to physical therapy. You decided to enlist the help of a therapist to recover from injury or surgery, or deal with chronic pain that’s been nagging you for years. You’ve made the first step by coming into our office for treatment, but that is not where your responsibility for your recovery ends. Your physical therapist will design a home exercise program to reinforce the improvements made in treatment, which will expedite your recovery and prevent recurrence of symptoms. It will be your responsibility to perform these exercises outside of the clinic, which may be difficult without your physical therapist there to direct and motivate you. Even though it may be easy to skip over this aspect of treatment, doing so can significantly slow your progression and decrease effectiveness of treatment.
Most physical therapy sessions will last 1-2 hours and be scheduled between 1-3 times per week. While we realize this is a big commitment, it is still a relatively small amount of time to make corrections in movement and postural habits that have been years in the making. Your physical therapist will perform manual therapy treatments during your sessions that will improve your mobility, restore normal movement patterns, and help to reduce your pain levels. Your home exercise program will help to reinforce these changes made in treatment and you will be able to progress more quickly through therapy.
While the benefits of being compliant with your physical therapist’s home exercise recommendations seem obvious, it is very common for patients to skip this part of the rehabilitation process. For some people that may be dealing with chronic pain, the initial reaction to pain is to stop moving and exercising. If you’ve read some of our prior blog posts, you realize that movement is the key to overcoming pain and avoiding movement will actually increase your pain. You therefore, need to keep moving, and not just during your treatment sessions.
Some people may have difficulty finding time to complete their home programs. Try your best to set aside time during your day to make sure you’re able to complete your exercises and make them part of your daily routine. If you feel that your program is too long or difficult to be performed on an everyday basis, be sure to communicate that to your physical therapist and they will adjust you program to make it work for you and your schedule. Conversely, if you feel that your program is not challenging enough, or feel that it needs to be progressed, make sure you express that as well.
Your home exercise program can help reduce the number of the treatment sessions you will need and may reduce the likelihood that you will have to return for the same injury or pain. To get the most out of your physical therapy, don’t overlook this aspect of treatment.