Excuses, excuses…

Why doing your physio exercises will help your help

(this is for all physiotherapy patients, not just our clients, from Oakville, Mississauga or Toronto )

The majority of people who attend physiotherapy will be given “homework” in the form of an individualized therapeutic exercise program and education on daily movement habits, such as posture, which they are encouraged to work on.

Unfortunately, research has shown that roughly 50% of patients will give their physiotherapist an excuse as to why these home exercises were not completed (i.e., no time, too tired, forgot, etc).

Believe it or not, a lot of thought goes into creating an appropriate exercise program because it is ESSENTIAL for full recovery. Studies have shown that most injuries will require some form of exercise in order to heal and return to normal. Furthermore, recurrence rates from injuries are higher for individuals who are not committed to their home exercise programs. If you are one of the many patients who are not compliant, continue reading below for some tips on how to stick with your exercise program based on the most common excuses physiotherapists hear.

Exercises are too complex

  • If you’re finding the exercises too difficult to remember, ask your therapist for a handout or electronic version which clearly outlines how to do the exercise with pictures and videos;
  • If you don’t have easy access to the equipment that you need to complete your home exercise program, ask your therapist for an alternative exercise. There are several ways to work the same muscle with and without exercise equipment.

Lack of Motivation

  • If you lack motivation and don’t see the benefits in your exercises, ask your therapist why you’re doing each exercise. Once patients understand the reason for their specific exercises, they will usually put more effort into them;
  • Set short and long term goals together with your therapist in order to motivate yourself to work towards something that is important to you;
  • Make your exercises part of your daily routine. If you set aside a designated time for exercise, you’re more likely to stick with them long term;
  • Find a partner/spouse/friend to do the exercises with you. They don’t have to be injured or do the same exercises, but a workout buddy always helps keep you accountable.

Lack of time

  • If you truly have no time, ask your therapist to focus on the key exercises only. Research has shown that most people get overwhelmed and discouraged if there are more than 3 exercises to do;
  • If you find that you have time to watch your favourite tv show at night, do your exercises during the show;
  • Try to work your exercises into your daily routine. For example, practice your balancing while brushing your teeth, take a couple minutes at your desk to do some basic stretching. Most people can spare a couple minutes throughout their daily routines. So break up the exercises and spread them out during the day, if you don’t have the time to do them all at once.

Lack of progress

  • Doing an exercise once, will not magically make a difference. It takes time, patience and consistency to see real changes. For example, muscle strengthening takes roughly 6 weeks to see noticeable improvements, so don’t expect miracles overnight.

I’m in too much pain and don’t want to make it worse

  • Most injuries respond positively to exercise and will actually make you feel less pain, while bed rest and not moving have been shown to make certain injuries worse. Talk with your physiotherapist about your fears and practice the exercises in the clinic first in order to make sure that you know how to do them properly and without pain.

Nobody wants to live in pain or be held back by an injury. Remember, in the long run, you will get better faster, if you stay committed to your home exercise program!