Post by Ryan Balmes, PT, DPT, OCS, SCS, FAAOMPT
As a physical therapist, I love giving my patients home exercises. Like a physician prescribing medications, I too take great care in prescribing exercises for my patients to perform at home. You’ll likely do plenty of exercises during a physical therapy visit, but the exercises performed at home are the most important in any treatment plan.
Ever wonder how your home exercises work?
Here are the top 5 characteristics for your home exercises
1. Home exercises will address the most important issue of your condition
If your physical therapist gives you an exercise to perform at home, it’s a really important to do them. This is because your physical therapist has determined that these certain exercises will need additional attention for your overall treatment plan to be successful.
2. Change from exercise comes first from your nervous system, then your muscles.
For the first 4 to 6 weeks, any changes that you may notice comes from an improvement of your nervous system. Why? Well before your muscles truly undergo changes, your nerves must first improve so they learn to activate your muscles properly. This is why it is important to perform your home exercises regularly and with proper form. After 4 to 6 weeks the muscles will begin to undergo true changes to the tissue.
3. Exercises to improve strength
The exercise prescription to truly improve upon strength in a muscle would require a specific number of sets, reps, and intensity. Strengthening exercises require 2-3 sets of low repetitions, such as 3-5 repetitions. The repetitions are low because the intensity is high. This type of exercise prescription isn’t too common for home exercises because it is generally more reserved for patients participating in high-level sports.
4. Exercises to improve endurance
The exercise prescription to improve upon the endurance in a muscle will require about 3 sets of high repetitions, such as 10-12 repetitions. Because the repetitions are high, the intensity of the exercise is low. This type of exercise prescription is more common, so that this can improve upon a muscle’s performance for everyday activities.
5. Proper form and safety is the most important aspect of your home exercises
With prescribed medications from a physician, it is important to follow the exact instructions so that the medications are effective. The same is true for your home exercises. Performing your home exercises with correct form is important. When performing your home exercises incorrectly, you risk making no progress in rehabbing your injury or make the injury worse! Also, your home exercises will always have safety in mind. This is particularly true when performing balance exercises.
When you implement these principles into your home exercises you may truly see the results that you desire. As a therapist, it is my goal to see my patients succeed and strengthen themselves to function more wholly in every day life.