If you’ve been to physical therapy, you likely got 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. 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’re supposed to. What can you do to make sure you do your exercises and get the best outcomes? Here are a few ideas.
Think about what’s going to get in your way – your schedule, that you’ll forget, or that you don’t have 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. If you solve problems before they start, they’re no longer problems.
Address pain and beliefs
You’ll need to work with your PT on these. If your exercises cause pain, you’re not going to do them. When your PT prescribes your exercises, try them out. If there’s pain, ask your PT about modifications to make them more comfortable. The other thing might need addressed are your beliefs. If you believe that the exercises won’t help, or that they’re a waste of time, you won’t do them. Again, work with your PT to understand why they’re prescribing those exercises, and what they’re meant to do. Once you know why you’re doing those exercises, you’re more likely to do them.
People who have a buddy or social system are more likely to do their exercises. This is why group exercise classes work. Find a family member or friend to help you stay consistent with your exercises. Your PT can help here too. Have someone ask if you’re doing your exercises, and how they’re going. This will keep you accountable and more likely to do them.
If you like technology and gadgets, they can help you be consistent with your exercises. There are plenty of apps that can track your exercise. Seeing that streak of days you’ve exercised will motivate you not to break it. Smartwatches and activity trackers can fill the same role.
Doing your home exercise program will help you get the most out of PT. With a little planning and a little help, you can make sure you’re one of the 50% of the people who do their home exercises consistently to get the best outcomes.