One thing that patients often don't realize when they're first sent to physical therapy is that not only will they need to work with the therapist at their appointment, they'll also have to do exercises at home between appointments. While this may come easily for some patients, if you've ever procrastinated on your homework or workplace projects, you may find yourself doing the same with your physical therapy. However, if you can carve out the time to implement your physical therapist's suggestions at home and stick to it, you'll find that your rehabilitation goes much faster. Take a look at some tips that can help you stay motivated away from your physical therapist's office.
Define a Goal
Professional athletes or dancers have an advantage when it comes to physical therapy for their injuries – they are in a physical field and often have a burning desire to get back to doing what they're best at. If you're an office worker, it might be a bit harder to come up with a specific physical goal that you're driven to meet. Sure, you want to be out of pain and able to move around freely, but that's not quite as specific as wanting to kick a field goal or do a pirouette, and therefore may not be as motivating.
Try to focus on something that you very much want to do and that physical therapy will help you accomplish. It can be a new experience. For example, if you've never ridden a horse before, you may want to improve to the point where you can safely try riding for the first time. Or it could be something as commonplace as wanting to be able to chase your toddlers around the backyard or dance at an adult child's wedding. No matter what it is, being able to visualize yourself achieving that goal will help give you purpose and focus.
Manage Time Creatively
You're busy, and that's understandable. You may have any number of obligations and people demanding your time. It can be hard to find time to do anything else. But the truth is, your physical therapy homework probably isn't going to take very long to do at all. No therapist wants you to be overwhelmed or risk hurting yourself at home by doing too much at once. Chances are you'll only need to find a few spare minutes a day.
Try doing exercises right before bed; that way you won't feel as if you're putting off more pressing obligations. You may be able to multi-task by doing knee bends while you're brushing your teeth, or doing arm exercises while watching the evening news. Use alarms to remind you if you're forgetful, and take advantage of apps that will help you track your progress so you can see what you're accomplishing.
Find the Right Therapist
A therapist's qualifications and expertise are important, but it's also important to find somebody that you click with. If you like your physical therapist and enjoy your time with them, you'll be motivated to please them. That additional motivation can help ensure that you complete your exercises at home.
Many physical therapy clinics employ more than one therapist, but you should be able to ask to be scheduled with one in particular every time. Most clinics are committed to providing continuity of care and shouldn't have a problem with such a request.
Your at-home exercises are a crucial part of your rehabilitation, so it's important to find a way to ensure that you keep up with them. If you're having trouble, don't hesitate to discuss it with your therapist. They may be able to help you create a physical therapy routine or make adjustments that will help you stick to the plan.