Completing Your Home Exercises Magnifies Effects of Your Physical Therapist's Care
If you've been to physical therapy, you likely received 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. Unfortunately, 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 have been recommended. What can you do to make sure you do your exercises and get the best outcomes? Here are a few ideas.
Think about potential barriers - your schedule, remembering to do them, or finding 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. Solve problems before they start, to maximize your chances of success!
Address pain and beliefs
If your exercises cause pain, you will not do them. When your PT prescribes your exercises, try them out. If you feel pain, ask your PT about modifications to make them more comfortable. You may also need to be openminded -- If you think that the exercises won't help, or that they are a waste of time, you are less likely to do them. Again, work with your PT to understand why they are prescribing those exercises, and what they are meant to do. Once you know why you are doing those exercises, you will be more likely to do them.
People who have social support are more likely to do their exercises, which is CrossFit and group exercise classes are effective. Find a family member or friend to help you stay consistent with your exercises. Have someone ask you how your exercises are going, which will help keep you accountable and more likely to do them.
Technology and gadgets, can help you be consistent with your exercises. You can download apps to track exercise and count a streak of days that you have exercised to stay motivated to keep it going! Smartwatches and activity trackers can help fill the same role.
Completing your home exercise program will help you get the most out of care with your physical therapist. With a little planning and a little help, you can make sure you are one of the 50% of the people who do their home exercises consistently to experience the best outcomes from your care!