Get Moving with Therapeutic Exercise
Did you know therapeutic exercise could help alleviate pain?
Therapeutic exercise, or corrective exercise, is a safe effective way for people of all ages to find pain relief and restore function. Therapeutic exercise is used to activate inhibited muscles after surgery or injury, to resolve weakness and to restore imbalances and is the forté of physical therapy – it’s the meat and potatoes of what we do at Rose City Physical Therapy. Evidence is strong for an active approach to rehab – that which various modes of therapeutic exercise provide.
Invariably, most physical therapy research concludes that therapeutic exercise and functional activity proves most helpful for long-term results and success.
Therapeutic exercise targets and corrects limits in motion, imbalances in strength and mobility, balance issues, weakness, core strength insufficiency and other deficits that can contribute to someone’s pain and problem. It is the best way to get strong, stretched and stable, restore function and live a pain-free life.
Many people assume that anyone participating in physical therapy treatments is recovering from a recent surgery. This is not the case. Physical therapy provides a multitude of benefits for anyone wishing to resolve pain, and restore their strength, endurance, flexibility, or stability. In fact, physical therapy is used as a treatment for any pain, injury, or ailment someone may be facing.
For more information on how therapeutic exercise may benefit you, contact Rose City Physical Therapy today!
Discover the Benefits of Therapeutic Exercise
Exercise programs are aimed at improving health and wellbeing to make you feel better. Therapeutic exercise is similar in this way; however, it implements targeted activities aimed at relieving pain and restoring deficits and imbalances in strength, mobility and activity to your optimum level of physical function. Therapeutic exercise can also be used as a way to prevent additional impairment or injury when facing certain physical risks; such as the SportsMetrics™ ACL Injury Prevention Program we offer at Rose City Physical Therapy – an evidence proven program to reduce the incidence of ACL injury.
There are a wide variety of therapeutic exercises used in physical therapy. Each one has a unique purpose. These include:
Range of Motion Exercises
Range of motion exercises focus on restoring the mobility or range of movement at your joints and across soft tissues. “Motion is lotion” is what the boss always says! After injury or surgery, it’s common for the body to protect and guard an injured area and this can cause limited motion, as well as the tissue damage that occurs with injury, or the strain on a joint that occurs along with swelling and edema after surgery – all which can reduce range of motion.
Range of motion can be restored through exercises applied passively by your physical therapist. For example, after a rotator cuff surgery at the shoulder when you are not allowed for 4 to 6 weeks, sometimes longer, to actively engage the shoulder to protect the surgery site. Yet, range of motion exercises in appropriate directions under certain loads are important early one to keep your shoulder from scarring down and possibly freezing, and to apply light load to the surgical site to stimulate tendon cells and foster healing.
There are also active assisted range of motion and stretching exercises where, when appropriate, you begin to actively engage the area while your physical therapist applies assistance. This, like passive range of motion, is common after surgery of a muscle or tendon repair as a progression in your rehab to gently begin using the repaired tissue.
FInally, active range of motion and stretching exercises come into play where all work is completed by yourself to optimize full motion at the joint or across a tight muscle and restore functional mobility.
Some jobs require prolonged static postures or repetitive activity. Examples include: Hours spent sitting or standing at a computer desk hunched over keyboards. Or students sitting in class all day and then studying into the late hours of the evening. Or an assembly line worker standing performing repetitive tasks all day.
These postures and tasks can lead to tightness in areas of the body, weakness or muscle imbalances in other areas, and strain on the body. Poor muscle tone, or simply poor posture habits, can lead to pain or injury.
Proper posture takes work. Proper posture requires the muscles in your body to be active and this can get tiring when not used to it. It’s like a marathon race – 26.2 miles. If your goal is to run a marathon, a lot of training is required to build up the strength and endurance for the body to handle the 26.2 mile run. The same with posture. If you’re not used to practicing proper posture, it takes work and demands the muscles to do work they’re not used to. That gets tiring in the near-term until proper corrective posture exercises are taught and committed to, to allow you to build the strength and endurance in them to tolerate prolonged proper posture. Posture exercises are aimed at correcting poor posture, not just when you exercise, but also in your daily life activities to alleviate aches and pains.
Is relaxation part of therapeutic exercise and pain management? You bet! While exercise and activity is important to restore mobility and strength at the muscles, joints, and soft tissues in the body, it is also important to learn to relax.
A lot of patients we see for neck pain and upper back pain tend to carry stress. We often hear these patients say “I have a lot of weight on my shoulders.” The same for low back pain patients, or after suffering an injury or undering a big surgery. Even those injured at work develop tension and stress due to inability to work and the worries of financial strain and pressures to get back to work that come with that. All these examples, and many more, are not healthy for injured tissue or a surgical repair and need to be addressed.
Active pain relieving techniques include diaphragmatic breathing, placing an injured area in positions of relief or protection, stretching exercises, Thai Chi and Yoga. These can all help the body relax, improve your sleep, lower your blood pressure, and keep you coming back for more exercise! And diaphragmatic breathing is important for proper air exchange in the lungs, improving circulation (we need blood to heal), lowering blood pressure, and lowering heart rate. WHat many people don’t know is that the diaphragm is part of the core and proper diaphragm function is one of the most important aspects of core stability.
Passive modalities can also offer relaxation. These include the use of heat, cold, electrical stimulation, hands-on soft tissue mobilization and trigger point therapy.
Neuromuscular Rehab: Balance, Coordination and Agility Exercises
Not only is mobility and strength important, but so is balance, coordination and agility. Balance, coordination and agility are also important for daily tasks, work and sport. The more complex or dynamic a task or sport specific movement, the more demand on the body to coordinate fine motor skills, maintain balance and be agile. And simply, as we age, balance is one of the first things to decline. Studies show reduced strength and balance with age leads to increased falls and injury, impairing the ability to care for oneself.
Any task you execute, balance, coordination and agility are involved. Every time you stand up from sitting, muscles work in conjunction with one another to help you rise to standing and once standing, to remain upright. Weight shifting occurs while leaning forward in the chair to get your body weight balanced over your feet to stand safely, as well as fine adjustments in weight shift throughout the act of standing to maintain balance.
Every time you stand, walk, sit, brush your teeth, cook a meal, take care of your daily activities, complete work tasks, or participate in sports – swinging a tennis racquet or throwing a ball – you are testing your balance, coordination and agility between the muscular and skeletal systems in your body. Your ability to complete simple to complex skills depends on your ability to balance and coordinate your arms, legs, hands, and feet, and be agile also. That is why balance, coordination and agility exercises are so important, especially after an injury or illness. If you cannot keep your balance or lose your coordination and agility, you lose the ability to care for yourself or compete with others in recreation or sport. Performance decreases and Injury risk increases. We like to say we help people get strong, stretched and stable. And the balance, coordination and agility components are all facets of that.
There isn’t a patient we treat that isn’t provided strengthening exercise at some point in their rehab journey. Strengthening exercises increase power, endurance, and muscle strength and are vital to good balance, coordination, agility – as discussed above – as well stability and bone and joint health.
What exercises are prescribed and when is dependent on a variety of factors. Our Portland, OR physical therapy specialists will work with you to administer and teach you the correct exercises at the correct time to protect injured or post-surgical tissue, and to progress your recovery in a safe effective manner to optimize your recovery. No cookie-cutter approach here. It’s all individualized to each patient’s specific needs.
Finding Pain Relief with Therapeutic Exercise
There is a common misconception that one needs to rest when in pain. This in fact is not the case and can actually cause your muscles to weaken during the healing process. And if you are dealing with a tendon injury, rest is the last thing to do as tendons turn to mush when rested. A tendon that is painful and injured in fact needs an appropriately applied load to it; even if it’s light gentle isometrics early on. This load stimulates tenocyte (tendon cell) synthesis and tendon remodeling for healing.
Our physical therapist will design an individualized treatment plan for you equipped with the therapeutic exercises you need to alleviate your pain, strengthen the weak areas of your body, promote the healing process, and restore function to get you back to doing the things you love.
At Rose City Physical Therapy, our goal is to help you live a pain-free life with even greater strength, endurance and function than you had before.
Get moving today!
If you want a life with less pain and greater strength, endurance and function, request an appointment at Rose City Physical Therapy today at Portland, OR!
Find out how therapeutic exercise can help you reach your physical goals and allow you to live the life you want!