Did you do your homework?

AKA did you do your home exercise program?

This is a question I ask clients constantly.  The prescribed exercises are absolutely critical in terms of making meaningful improvements and empowering clients to take ownership of their injury or condition.  The clients that follow through with their home exercises are more likely to have better outcomes and resume the activities they have been limited from.  Clients that sporadically or fail to comply with the exercise program will find their progress slow which can lead to frustration.  The home exercises are not only given to supplement what is done in clinic, but to allow the client to take control of their condition and understand how to manage it.  I like to think of my relationship with my clients as a team rather than a supervisor and a subordinate.  I will do my part to help manage your condition, while you do your part to reach the common goal (pain free and return to doing whatever you want/need to be doing activity-wise).  Please DO YOUR EXERCISES!  Otherwise, we (your PTs) have to turn into your nagging mother every time you come in for treatment and we have to give you that look.  The more compliant you are with your homework, the better the prognosis and overall outcome.Another common question I am asked regarding home exercise programs, “how long do I have to do my home exercises for after I stop seeing you?”  The short answer: forever.  The funniest answer I ever heard, “Everyday until the week before you die.”    Ok, just a little PT humor.  In all seriousness, I advise clients to continue with their home exercise program and incorporate them into their gym activities if they go to the gym.  For those that don’t, then yes, you need to do your exercises several times a week.  Think of it as maintenance.  If the exercises have become WAY TOO easy then I recommend following up with the PT to have revisions made to the program as you may have “outgrown” your existing program.  Yours truly even makes sure to do my strength and flexibility exercises for my now resolved injuries.  For me, I DO NOT ever want to have to experience those pains again if I can help it. If you need a transitional gym/medical exercise program, we can help you with that.  After all, we know your body best after having the opportunity to work on you and with you to get you moving again.  If you need help with progressing your prescribed exercises once you have left us, then we can help you do that too.  Think of this as preventative or proactive medicine.  Your body is a living machine, it needs preventative maintenance to insure everything is in working order.  Failure to keep the maintenance up, then something is bound to “break” and when it does, don’t wait get it checked out!

Dr. Jamie So

Jamie So, PT, DPT, is the owner and physical therapist of Manual Therapy Effects.

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