No excuses. You need to do them because they may be the most important part of physical therapy.
Physical therapy doesn’t end after you walk out the rehab clinic doors. Between appointments you’ll need to do some work on your own. And it’s that work that can make all the difference in your recovery.
Start by understanding what your physical therapist wants you to do at home
It’s easy to understand what your physical therapist wants you to do when they’re right beside you, showing you proper form and giving encouragement. Don’t be surprised if you get a little unsure once you get home and try your exercises solo. Keep a notebook close by and write down questions as you go through your routine. Bring it with you to your next appointment and work with your therapist until you’re clear about what you need to do.
Doing the exercises properly, and on schedule, will help you get stronger and closer to your goals.
Excuses, excuses – stop making them
Unfortunately, even when we know something like exercise is good for us, it can be tough to get motivated to do the work. Here are some common excuses physical therapists hear and how you can overcome them:
I don’t like exercise. Sometimes all it takes is starting. Once you start seeing results, or get an endorphin rush, exercise may become more enjoyable.
I don’t have the time to exercise. Take a good look at your schedule and be prepared to reorganize a bit. Put everything on the table. Consider early morning workouts. Or early evening workouts during the time you’d usually spend watching TV.
The exercises you gave me are too hard. Don’t consider them hard, consider them challenging. Your PT has customized your plan to push you – just enough – so that you can recover.
Exercise hurts. Physical therapy shouldn’t hurt. However, it will be challenging and you may be sore after exercising. Talk to your therapist about what you can expect and what, if any, at-home pain treatments you can use if you’re stiff or sore after exercising.
Is at-home equipment necessary?
Your PT will tell you exactly what you need – if anything. Many exercises, like walking or stretching, require no equipment. Others use your own body weight so a simple yoga mat may be enough. More specialized items like exercise bikes, treadmills, dumbbells, resistance exercise bands, exercise balls, hand therapy putty or hand exerciser balls may be helpful, but you should always check with your PT to see if they’re really worth the investment.