How many times has a therapist given you homework exercises you promised to do with all the best intentions and in moderation until your next appointment?
Did you actually do them?
Sometimes, the mindset of having to do something you feel isn’t that important occurs because you can’t see or imagine the benefit.
Living in a fast-paced world and a society full of quick fixes makes it difficult to do therapy at times on our own.
We typically have many other distractions in our lives like our cellphones, our jobs, or the television that we feel outweigh the importance of our recovery. Steering yourself in a new direction to accomplish the goal of doing therapy at home means that you must set those other distractions aside. The trick is to convince yourself that this new routine is more fun than those that are already established.
Imagine this break as a mini-vacation from your normal everyday habits to focus first on relaxing and calming your body from the pain and trauma of an injury or other afflictions. Yes, it means that you have to give in to slowing down. However, like anything else that’s new, the more you practice, the easier relaxing becomes. Examples of calming techniques are meditation, yoga, or massage therapy. Now that you’re calm, you can focus on the therapy exercises your provider gave you.
The next obstacle to overcome is, why do I need to do this in the first place? Doing therapy at home as you heal from your limitations is your chance to strengthen your body and recover muscle memory to whatever may be injured or weak.
The exercises also assist in loosening up stiff muscle restrictions in your body. Other benefits are communicating your progress effectively, using the homework as a measuring stick on your progress during your next scheduled appointment, and your therapists adjusting your exercises commensurate with your progress. The biggest benefit of all is the sense of accomplishment in getting yourself one step closer to improved independence.
When I first began doing Pilates in my quest to walk better after overcoming paralysis, my instructor gave me two sheets of paper with balancing exercises for me to do at home. I didn’t ask myself why I should do these exercises because I was thinking on a larger scale of how they would eventually benefit my weak body.
Some of the motivations that drove me were:
- Visualizing standing in a shower on my own
- Stepping in and out of a car
- Reducing my risk of falling
- Chasing better posture to reduce my back pain
- Increasing my quality of life, in general
Three years later, my life and balance have improved significantly, and I still do those exercises.