Physio exercises: Are they optional? – The harsh reality

The answer to that question is, in a nutshell, “no”.

I suspect that as a physio I am not alone when I say this is one of the biggest battles we face with our clients; convincing them of the importance of the exercises we ask them to do.

When you have an injury or experience pain, certain muscles will become weak and various structures will no longer have the correct support. This can prolong the duration of the painful symptoms and also predispose you to future muscle imbalances, which in turn can lead to new injuries or re-injury. Maybe you have a back pain that recurs every year and seems to be getting worse, (possibly structures of the back not being supported sufficiently) or you have a pesky hamstring that you seem to pull every so often (possibly a muscle imbalance). So when your physio asks you to do certain exercises …….. You know what you have to do!

Why would you not do the exercises? Let’s look at the most common reasons given:

“I haven’t had the time to do the exercises” (but you had the time to watch telly, go to the pub, or maybe worked long hours).

“I remembered to do them last night when I realised I was seeing you today” (despite the fact that you had a week to do them).

“I did do them once or twice when I remembered” (instead of twice daily for 5 days).

“You’re going to be cross with me, but I didn’t get round to doing the exercises” (not cross, but puzzled as to why you don’t want to help yourself get better).

If you had a bacterial infection, were prescribed antibiotics by your doctor, and you didn’t take them, would you be surprised if you were no better? I doubt it. When your physio asks you to do specific exercises, they are being prescribed to you in the same way a doctor prescribes medication. By not doing them you are hindering your own road to recovery. So similarly, if you don’t do the exercises, don’t be surprised if you don’t see progress.

Practical tips to help you remember:

Put aside time for your exercises that have been prescribed to you each day/week in your diary and use this time as if you were at a physio appointment – even in an office environment, book yourself out and close the door or find a quiet place  and do your exercises.

At home set an alarm to remind you on your phone and dedicate this non-negotiable time. You may also find some of your exercises can be done whilst doing daily chores like brushing your teeth or washing up etc.

You can even make yourself a star chart! That was a joke, but if it helps 😉

 It’s only 10 or 20 mins and you will be amazed and how your recovery improves….

So to come back to the original question: are physio exercises optional? As a physio the answer is still NO…… your recovery is in your hands!

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