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  • Writer's pictureRachel Richers

Home Exercise Programs - Why are Physical Therapists so obsessed with giving "homework"?

Your doctor will prescribe you medication, say, for high blood pressure or cholesterol, or any other number of conditions. If you no longer test as having “high blood pressure” at your next doctor’s visit, will they take you off of the medicine? Generally no! They will say that the medication is effective, and to continue taking it so that your body doesn’t regress to its previous hypertensive state (high blood pressures return). As physical therapists, we are not trained to prescribe medication. Our prescription comes in the form of exercise. While exercises do take longer to complete than swallowing a pill, we hope that the feelings after completion of the exercises have the effects of decreased pain, improved range of motion, or, if nothing else, a sense of accomplishment that you are actively working toward your goals. I always encourage my patients to continue doing their exercises daily or at least every other day after discharge from therapy in order to maintain their level of success. Keep strengthening, keep stretching, keep focusing on how you were taught to walk, sit, stand, etc and it will hopefully, overtime, become more of an unconscious habit. In reality, we know that most people will fall off of their exercise program. It’s human nature - life happens. So, my best piece of advise is to keep all of the exercises you were given from therapy. If you find that your pain starts to return, or if you’re no longer able to do the exercises to the same quality as before, grab out those handouts and start working through them. Ideally, you will find yourself able to heal yourself through movements you already know! And, if you’re just not regaining that prior level of success, call up that physical therapist for a refresher. We are always happy to reteach and reestablish consistency with you in order to prevent you from a total regression in pain and function. In Physical Therapy, exercise is medicine - remember to take it daily!

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