So the doctor prescribed you physical therapy after an injury or surgery. You go to your selected physical therapist and they introduce you to some exercises and go into detail about how to do them & how to do them properly. After each session, you go home, go about your everyday life until your next appointment. Did you follow instructions on doing your exercises at home?
If you’ve ever been to a physical therapist or overheard a physical therapist’s conversation, you have most likely heard the term “home exercise program.” A home exercise program is just that – exercises that your physical therapist & doctor want you to do at home.
But, I do my exercises at physical therapy. Why should I do them at home?
The fact that you are in physical therapy actively working towards recovering is a great first step! If your doctor wants you in physical therapy, there is a reason behind it. So keep it up!
The exercises you do in the clinic with a physical therapist or physical therapy aide are designed specifically to help improve in whatever areas have been identified as the root to your problems. However, chances are you are in physical therapy maybe 1-3 times a week. In order to see the most benefit from your time in physical therapy, your exercises should be done regularly which means doing them at home!
Your physical therapist has made recommendations to your doctor and your doctor has approved them – they WANT you to do these exercises. Both physical therapists and doctors have seen enough patients to know what works and what does not work. The exercises they give you have been shown time & time again to be beneficial. Put your trust into them for a quicker, longer-lasting recovery.
It’s hard for me to complete them from home.
There are ways to improve your compliancy with your home exercise program.
Get into a routine - Your exercises should not take hours to complete. You are most likely given 3-7 exercises that you are expected to complete at home. Find time in your day to set aside to make sure these exercises get done. After all, you want to overcome your injury and move on right?
Incorporate exercises into your down time - While watching television with the family, try doing some of your exercises; maybe even get your family to do the exercises with you! While in line at the grocery store, throw in an exercise (i.e. calf raises). Getting dressed in the morning, work on your posture and scap squeezes (everyone’s favorite). In other words, get creative!
Ask questions & truly understand the exercises - One of the main reasons we hear people aren’t completing their home exercise programs is because they don’t remember the exercises they were supposed to do or how to do them. If the instructions you are given don’t make sense, ask for clarification the next time you are in. Or, if multiple days are going to pass between your appointments, call your therapist and ask for them to explain. They want you to get better and will find time in their day to explain!
Find a trusty companion - Everything is better in pairs! Find someone that can hold you accountable to complete your exercises. Whether it’s a family member, friend, someone you met at the gym, or maybe even another patient you’ve seen around before, work together to complete these exercises. Not only is it beneficial for you to be doing your exercises but you also get to spend some quality time with others. Win-win!
Set goals - Whether it’s a specific time frame that you want to have physical therapy completed by or if it’s a weekly goal to do your exercise (X) amount of times, goals can be motivating!
We want to see you return to the things you love just as much as you do! By completing your at-home exercises, you are more likely to graduate from physical therapy early. However, the exercises don't end when your physical therapy ends... keep it going! The last thing you want is a recurrence.