If you have been to physical therapy, you likely got a home exercise program. Research says that if you do your home exercise program, you will 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 are important, adherence to home exercise programs is terrible. It is estimated that only 40 to 50% of patients do their exercises the way they are 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 will forget, or that you do not 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 physical therapist about equipment, or adjusting your program to fit the time you have. If you solve problems before they start, they are no longer problems.
You will need to work with your physical therapist on these. If your exercises cause pain, you are not going to do them. When your physical therapist prescribes your exercises, try them out. If there is pain, ask your physical therapist about modifications to make them more comfortable. The other thing might need addressed are your beliefs. If you believe that the exercises will not help, or that they are a waste of time, you will not do them. Again, work with your physical therapist to understand why they are prescribing those exercises, and what they are meant to do. Once you know why you are doing those exercises, you are more likely to do them.
People who have social support are more likely to do their exercises. This is why CrossFit and group exercise classes work. Find a family member or friend to help you stay consistent with your exercises. Your physical therapist can help here too. Have someone ask if you are doing your exercises, and how they are 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 have 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 physical therapy. With a little planning and a little help, you can make sure you are one of the 50% of the people who do their home exercises consistently to get the best outcomes.