When stretching, always relax first, try to hold the stretch for a minimum of 30 seconds (unless directed differently) to allow the tissue enough time to appropriately respond.
Never “bounce” when holding a stretch. It should be a smooth, sustained movement without causing pain increase. Stretch should feel “sweet and sore”
We are creatures of habit, meaning it is helpful to incorporate your home exercise program into your daily routine. Try to complete it at the same time each day to help develop a pattern. Postural, relaxation and some other exercises one can do anywhere any time.
If you need to ice, a frozen bag of peas or corn can be a great substitute if you don’t have an ice pack on hand.
If you ice with an ice pack – put the pack in a pillowcase and place directly on the affected area for no longer than 12-15 minutes.
Practice relaxation! Pain and muscle spasms work in a ruthless cycle. To help promote healing and decrease discomfort, you need to retrain your body to recognize and maintain a relaxed muscular state.
When visiting your doctor, write a list of everything you would like to ask or discuss. It is easy to forget questions when you have limited time during your appointment.
If you are very painful, it can be helpful to take pain medication approximately thirty minutes to an hour prior to your physical therapy appointment. This will help you get the most out of your PT session.
Depression and anxiety can play a big role in how pain presents itself. If you believe you are dealing with one or both of these issues, talking with a counselor or psychologist could improve your healing process and give you tools to help control your pain.
Get active! When we are painful or not feeling well, it is easy to want to stop moving and just rest on the couch. It is important to remember that movement helps nourish our joints, maintain our muscular flexibility and strength, and reduces the risk of secondary impairments. Not moving can actually aggravate your symptoms and prolong the healing process.
Make sure you stay hydrated. Outside of the general health benefits of good hydration, drinking a lot of water following a therapy session can help decrease muscle soreness.
If you like to sleep on you side, try adding a pillow between your knees to reduce stress placed on your hip joints and help maintain neutral alignment.
Try not to sleep with more than one pillow under your head. When you add more pillows, you place your neck in a vulnerable position and increase your chance of waking-up with stiff neck.
Try to build your endurance through increasing your time completing an aerobic activity (i.e. walking, jogging, running) rather than increasing your distance.
Get a good pair of shoes! Our feet are our base of support and our shoes can affect everything from our arches, to our hip alignment. Try to go to a store that can evaluate what type of shoe would be most beneficial for you (i.e. Gazelle Sports).
If you have to sit for prolonged periods at work, try to get up and walk around at least once an hour. This can help save your back and can also make you more conscious of maintaining correct posture throughout the day.
If you have an injury that has caused you to swell, do not put heat on the involved area (unless previously advised). This actually exacerbates the inflammatory process and can cause increased swelling to occur.
Remember, the majority of therapy needs to occur outside of your physical therapy appointment. To see the most improvement, you need to supplement your physical therapy with daily participation in your home exercise program.
Remember, healing takes time. Try to remain patient and positive…our bodies are amazing, but need sufficient amount of time to heal.
Make an exercise buddy. Just like most everything else in life, working-out is more fun when you have a partner by your side.
Keep all your home exercises in a binder together and bring the binder with you to your physical therapy appointment. This way we can remove or edit your exercises as you continue to make progress.
When lifting or bending, try to bend at the waist rather than rounding your back. This will help protect your low back from injury, while also providing more power and strength to your movement.
When starting a new workout regiment, take it slow! If you jump into a super rigorous exercise program, you are likely to either injury yourself or get burnt-out within the first couple weeks.
If you have sought treatment at another physical therapy facility, bring in the exercises they had prescribed. It is helpful to know what treatment has and has not been beneficial in the past.
If you have back pain and are starting a new walking program, make sure you are walking on smooth, level ground. You do not want to trip or stumble and re-injure your back.