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Why a Home Exercise Program is Important

We begin physical therapy because we have a goal in mind. Relief from pain, increased functionality, staying active, playing with our kids, the list goes on. After the initial evaluation, a home exercise program is given—HEP for short—to help us reach those specific goals. There are a range of stretches and strengthening exercises to help offset weak, tight, and poorly functioning muscles in order to target your area of complaint and give you a well rounded program for your success. 

So, if an HEP is a means to an end—then why not stick to it? Going to physical therapy 2-3 times a week is awesome, but there needs to be consistency at home to see lasting change. The strength that you’re gaining will only be maintained by keeping up with regular strengthening. In some sense, coming to PT can be the beginning of a lifestyle change. You’re incorporating regular corrective exercises to your daily life to help you be able to keep up the activities you want with the strength and endurance needed. 

How often should I do my exercises?

The goal is to implement a portion of exercises twice a day. If you have a lot to choose from, then do half at some point in the beginning of the day and half later on. If you’re in pain one day, its okay to listen to your body to rest, and do a few gentle stretches or low level exercise that require small muscle activation.

But I’m busy!

We understand that everyone coming into our facility has a busy life. Kids, spouses, prior obligations, and important errands can add another factor of busyness. However, keep your goal in mind. What is it that you want to achieve? Whatever the answer is, remember that you most likely won’t reach that goal without a little extra effort in the nooks and crannies of your day. Don’t be discouraged and give up if you didn’t do your exercises twice one day. Some strengthening is better than nothing at all. Don’t lose sight of your goal! Give yourself the best chance to get better by sticking to the exercises given.

Can I just have a HEP and go home?

The short answer is no. Each of these exercises requires precise form and posture to perform correctly. We’re trying to get you to activate muscles that you might not be used to, and we’re here to guide you and correct you as you go through them. Doing exercises at home that we haven’t prescribed and assessed here, can lead to pain elsewhere, or just a lack of true necessary change because you may be compensating and haven’t been shown how not to. Imagine spending two weeks trying to strengthen your glutes, only to find out that you’ve been stressing your lower back without actually firing the glutes like you’re supposed to. Having our eyes and cueing will help to prevent that. Neither of us want you to waste your time and energy.

If you’ve already started PT with us, continue your HEP! You should get updates on it every 2-3 visits. If you find that you’re doing some of the same things, ask us why! We will be happy to explain why we’ve focused on specific things, or we can look back over what’s been update in your packet and add some new things that we feel you’re ready for. 

And remember, doing regular activities of daily living such as putting away groceries, cleaning, etc don’t count as therapeutic exercise. These things require muscle use, but they don’t isolate the muscles that are necessary for you to get better.

By: Kiara Holmes, ATC

Call LSTC today at, 703-450-4300 to start living pain free again. Questions about your HEP or ready to start physical therapy? Give our office a call to talk to one of our expert physical therapists and patient care coordinators. 

For more information on the benefits of physical therapy, click HERE!

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