“Why do I have to do these exercises at home when I’m already coming to therapy a couple times a week?”
This is a very common question asked by so many patients. During the initial evaluation, the physical therapist prescribes an individualized program for the patient based off of any deficits that are found. These exercises typically include stretches to help increase flexibility, strengthening exercises, postural exercises, and treatments such as heat, ice, e-stim, or massage to control pain and inflammation. On average, a patient will only see their physical therapist about 1-3 hours per week. Three hours is a small amount of time spent in a week to help correct any deficit that has been going on for months or even years. Think of physical therapy treatments and home exercises as two parts that make a whole. Skipping one or the other provides the same limited advantage as trying a diet to lose weight but only committing to eating healthy once a week and expecting to see results. Home exercises help retrain muscles in order for them to function the proper way. In order to keep any gains from one therapy session to the next, it’s imperative to complete the home exercises to keep your muscles from regressing back to their initial dysfunctional state.
“But what if the exercises make me feel uncomfortable?”
It’s normal for new exercises to feel uncomfortable for you. Stretches and exercise may not a movement that your body is used to, and just like anything else it will take some time and practice for it to get easier. If your PAIN increases with any exercises given by the physical therapist, stop doing that exercise until your next treatment session and talk it over with the therapist so they can provide a modified exercise for you.
“Why is it important for me to keep up with a home exercise program after being discharged from physical therapy?”
It’s not uncommon for patients to return to therapy for the same reason why they were there in the first place. The often happens when the patients discontinue their Home Exercise Program because they are feeling better. Some patients will fall back in to old movement patterns, causing them to have improper posture that will increase stress on different joints in the body. Updated Home exercise programs are designed for the patient to continue their progress after completing sessions with their physical therapist.