Physical Therapy and the Importance of Home Exercises
Persistence and planning are key
By Lily Beltran
Congrats—you’re on the road to recovery! You have a physical therapist to help you heal and a home exercise program to strengthen you and improve your mobility. After a couple of days, though, things aren’t going too well. You’re busy, and the commitment to your home exercises begins to wane. Your road to recovery has taken a serious detour.
The barriers that patients “perceive and encounter”
A lack of positive feedback
The degree of helplessness
The Best Way to Do PT Home Exercises
Even if these (or other) factors are holding you back, you can overcome them and finish your treatment. It’s all about consistency—having a time of day, location, or event that allows you to get your exercises done. Schedule it in your calendar, and set an alert on your phone.
Develop a ritual to make starting easier.You might stack your exercise habit on top of a current one or set a schedule for yourself. For example, he notes, you can declare your intent to exercise by filling out this sentence: “During the next week, I will exercise on [DAY] at [TIME OF DAY] at/in [PLACE].” Clear’s research shows that people who did this were two to three times more likely to exercise in the long-term.
Start with an exercise that is “ridiculously small.”Clear talks about the “2-minute rule,” in which you find a way to get started in two minutes—and not worry about your entire workout. For runners, he says, that might be filling up the water bottle and putting on your running shoes. For PT patients, that might include getting out the yoga mat and resistance bands and pulling up the list of prescribed exercises. “That’s all you have to do to consider today’s workout a success,” he writes. “Often, this little 2-minute start will be enough to get your motivation flowing and help you finish the task.”
Focus on the habit first and the results later.How many weight-loss resolutions have we made at the New Year—and failed to keep? Clear says you should “focus on the system rather than the goal.” That means establishing your “new normal” and creating a routine you can stick to, even if you have to start small (see step number 2).
Physical Therapy Home Exercises—What To Expect
The exercises your physical therapist recommends may make you feel a little sore. That’s to be expected since you’re asking your body to do new movements. You may think the exercise is not what your body needs, but the opposite is true. It’s just that your PT has likely found your weakness and/or your imbalances, and has designed a home exercise program to correct these.