As a physical therapy patient, your overall health and return to normal, daily activities is the primary goal. If you are allowed and feel up to it, taking on some personal exercise is not a bad idea. Be sure to check with your therapist and the physician overseeing your treatment. Here are five good tips to keep in mind as you start your exercise routine.
1. Go at the pace of the day – Each day will vary. Some days you will want to climb Mt. Everest, and some days you will not want to climb out of bed. This is normal and expected. There are any number of factors that goes into this equation: time of the day, personal fatigue level, last meals and even a current level of stress. Plan your exercise around what your body is telling you. The goal is, and always has been, a challenge to your body. There is a difference between an “ow” and hurt. Stay with the norms of exercise: stretching pre and post, rest muscle groups and proper hydration.
2. Practice does not make perfect – This is something many misunderstand. Perfect practice makes perfect, particularly in strength training. Use the correct form and method for not only optimum training but to minimize chance of injury.
3. Core first; the rest will follow – Stabilizing muscles need to be trained to a minimum level of strength before moving on. Your physical therapist may be able to give you some guidance in this field. Again, good form and technique is vital and skipping over parts may be detrimental.
4. Slow and steady wins – If you are still in a physical therapy program, your overall physical movements may be limited. It is good to challenge yourself but do it wisely. Do not think you can go from a steady walk to running a good clip in a week. The same can be said for weights. Increasing everything at once: weight, reps and sets can not only be too much on your body, it can be dangerous.
5. Get the right help – The well-toned gentleman at the gym or one of the gym employees may know something about exercise, but they are not physical therapists or physicians. You need to get information from people experienced with you and your situation. Do not be afraid to ask questions about your exercise.