Physical therapy can improve and accelerate the healing process after an injury, and can often prevent injuries and loss of function. Your appointments with your physical therapist are essential, but they are not nearly as effective if you aren’t doing your home exercises as well. Regular performance of your home physical therapy exercises is a key factor in ensuring the success of your physical therapy program.
For most people, the greatest challenge is finding time and remembering to do your exercises at home – this may be the part of physical therapy that our patients struggle with the most! Luckily, there are lots of ways to overcome these challenges and make you exercises part of your routine.
One effective way to regularly perform your exercises is to schedule a specific time to do them. Plan a time every day when you will have 10-15 minutes to exercise, and honor that time the same way you would an appointment in our office. Most patients find it easiest to fit in exercises first thing in the morning or right before bed, but you can also plan to fit them in during a lunch break, or even set aside a special time every day.
In our hectic, busy lives, it can be easy to forget to do your exercises. Write the time you plan to do them on your calendar, or program a reminder in your phone. You can even set your phone alarm to go off when you should be doing your exercises. A reminder board on your refrigerator works well, too – a reminder box to check off after you’ve done your exercises each day of the week can be great motivation. Not only will it help you remember, but it can be very rewarding to see a full week of checkboxes marked to signify your dedication!
In the midst of our busy days, we often make excuses about why it’s okay to skip exercises. It’s important not to fall into this habit. Physical therapy exercises usually take 10-15 minutes or less to complete, and they are essential to your recovery. It’s okay to prioritize yourself and you recovery. Life is busy, but it’s worth the effort to make time for your health and exercise.
Another excuse is feeling too tired or too sore to do your exercises. While it may seem like you need to rest in these instances, your exercises may actually help reduce your soreness and give you energy. Rather than skipping your exercises, try doing just a few repetitions and see how it feels. Many patients find that once they start exercising, they start to feel better and are able to get relief by performing their home exercises. If it turns out that you aren’t able to comfortably perform your exercises, hold off and talk to your therapist at your next visit.
If you have a family member or friend who is willing to help, enlist them to remind you and keep you motivated. Kids and grandkids often enjoy doing exercises with you and can give you a reason to take the time to get them done. Ask your workout partner to remind you to do your exercises before or after your exercise. Encouraging family and friends to ask you about your progress and how well you’ve kept up with your exercises can be great inspiration and provide someone to celebrate with when you’ve achieved a goal.
No matter what works for you, find a way to remember to do your physical therapy exercises consistently and keep up with your therapy at home. You will see better, faster results thanks to your efforts, allowing you to progress and heal more quickly. The sooner you heal, the fewer appointments you’ll need to complete treatment and the better you will feel. You play the biggest role in the success or your therapy, so make sure to do your part and remember to do your exercises at home!
At Move Better we believe the more active patients are in their own recovery, the faster they will get better. We emphasize teaching self-care and at-home exercise programs on the first visit. Our home exercise programs are customized with specific text, pictures, and exercise videos for each patient. Call Move Better Physical Therapy at (434) 817-0980 to get started on an effective home exercise program to help guide your successful recovery!