Do I really need to do my exercises?


As a physio sometimes one of the hardest battles is getting patients to complete their home exercises. I’m finding that a good 60% of the time most patients are not doing them and there are a multitude of reasons …. they do not have time, they lost the exercise sheet, they do not remember or they tried them once and they didn’t work.

So why do we give you exercises? We give you home exercises so that you can proactively continue on with your rehab for your injury in between sessions. As a physiotherapist at Back In Action we usually see you for 45 minutes 1-2 times per week. This is not enough to “fix” your injury. For results to be seen and progression to be made with rehabilitation you need to be doing something, even if it is a little bit each day, to help you on your way to recovery and at the very least maintain what we have gained in our session. We are giving you the exercises to do at home as we genuinely believe they will make you better faster.

That being said, we do understand that life gets a bit busy sometimes so we have a few tips on how to make sure you are able to complete your physio exercises to rehab your pesky injury and still do life at the same time!

*Top tip for the “I don’t have time-ers” – Often your physio will ask you to complete a certain number of exercises 3 to 4 times a day. However, with work and family life trying to do exercises in the morning, at morning tea, lunch time and before bed sometimes can be a bit difficult. To combat this I tell all my patients that you don’t have to spread all your exercises out throughout the day. If it is easier to do all your exercises in the evening once you get home from work then that’s fine.

BUT I suggest for example that you complete 1 set of 10 of each exercise before you cook dinner, have dinner and then complete another set of 10 of each exercise, put the kids to bed and then complete your final sets of 10. As long as you have a 30 minute – 1 hour break between each round of exercises it is okay to slowly complete them throughout the evening or morning whenever suits you best. That way it takes the stress off trying to complete them during the work day and you keep your physio happy, plus you make progress in your recovery!

Another useful tip for the “I don’t have time-ers” is to pick some activities that you do regularly in your day ie go the to toilet, have a coffee etc and use these as a trigger to do your exercises.

*Top tip for the “I don’t remember-ers” – Your physio should write down your exercises on an exercise card but if they have not then just ask them. Place that exercise card somewhere you are likely to see it everyday, eg on your fridge, your bedroom wall or your bathroom mirror. This should a) prompt you to do your exercises and b) mean you remember to do all of them. If this does not work for you the other option is (depending on how tech savvy you are!) you can set timely reminders on your phone to remind you to complete your exercises.

*Top tip for the ”one time wonders”- Even though sometimes an exercise may not feel as though it is doing much, often it is! I try to explain it as if you try anything once often you wont reap the benefits right away. For example if you attend one rugby training session you are not automatically going to be as skilled as Damien McKenzie! You need to continually attend training sessions and work towards becoming a skilled rugby player. The same rules apply with your exercises. Whilst they may not feel like much the first time you do them, if you stick with them the effects will accumulate and you will start to see a difference and progress in your rehab journey.

On a final note – if you really are struggling with your exercises please talk to your Back In Action physiotherapist and come up with a plan together. We will work with you to focus on one or two key exercises that will be most beneficial for you. We are more than happy to adapt your exercise plans to make sure they are going to be beneficial for you and easy for you complete with your lifestyle!

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