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Three Tricks For Successful Recovery With Physical Therapy

Three Tricks For Successful Recovery With Physical Therapy

By Biagio Mazza

Today's we are going to talk about sticking with your physical therapy exercises, whether they are from Elite Sports Medicine & Physical Therapy in Kansas City, MO. So this video is not for everybody. This is for people who have started physical therapy and have some sort of a home program.

So the very predictable thing that happens is people will come in when they're in acute pain, let's say low back pain. So they come in...

  • They're in acute low back pain...
  • They get some sort of treatment from their physical therapist...
  • The physical therapist may do something to them, either some technique or some activity to try to reduce their pain...
  • Then give some home exercises.

People are very diligent about their exercises when they're hurting. And then as they get better, their compliance level really shuts off. Part of it is because you don't have that constant reminder of, "I hurt so I've got to do my stuff." But part of it is also that if you don't have something that's motivating you, like pain, it's very difficult to stay on top of things.

So three tricks to strick with your activities are this:

  1. Setting a daily routine around your exercises. People have all sorts of routines. Routines are how we live our life. You may have bad routines or you may have good routines, but we all typical get up at certain times of the day. We typically will brush our teeth, bathe, get ready for work, drive, do many other things where we're not consciously processing. We're doing those things automatically. So if you can set your routine to include those physical therapy activities, that will be a big help for you. But most studies suggest that if you aggregate everything together, it takes about 66 days to form a habit. So if you can figure it's going to take you a couple months of consistently doing something to form that habit, that will help to give you a timeline to shoot for. Saying, "Okay I've got to work at it until this time." And then it becomes a routine. And then you can do it without thinking very much.
  2. Make sure that you have manageable numbers of activities and exercises. As a young therapist, I thought that more was better. I thought the more activities, the more exercises I gave my patient, the more I showed my value to them. I realized that that couldn't be farther from the truth. And the reason is if I give somebody 20 exercises to do, they'll either do them wrong or they won't do them at all. If I gave somebody three things to do, they typically will do them and do them pretty close to correct. So I've kind of changed the way that I've practiced over the course of the last 20 years and really focused on what are the top three to five things per day I want my patient to do to try to heal. And if you can do those things on a regular basis as part of your routine, that can really help to maintain your ability to stay both consistent and competent with the activities that you're doing.
  3. Reward yourself. People don't think of when it comes to physical therapy exercises is to reward yourself. Your body is set up to respond well to punishment and rewards and tends to do better to rewards. So if you can set some sort of guideline, like, "If I do my exercises the next five days in a row, then I'm going to treat myself to a movie that I haven't gotten a chance to see or some sort of small gift." I'm not saying that you can buy whatever you want but if you want to set yourself up with some sort of reward. Like, "Once I hit this metric, I'm going to order my special thing that's been in my Amazon Prime cart over the last couple months that I've been waiting on." Set something like that to reward yourself.

Those three things can be very motivating and powerful when it comes to try and maintaining a healthy lifestyle overtime, espeically with physical therapy exercises.