Movement specialists such as physiotherapists and physical therapists work with patients in a wide variety of ways to help relieve pain, restore and or improve functioning. Surgical rehabilitation, injury and illness are just a few examples of issues that can disrupt normal functioning and be helped by therapy.
The path to recovery is unique to the individual. However, one of the most commonly recommended methods when developing a treatment plan is therapeutic exercise. This well-researched and evidence-based method of treatment incorporates strengthening, stretching and mobility-enhancing exercise routines designed around each patient’s individual needs.
What Is Therapeutic Exercise?
Therapeutic Exercise is defined as bodily movement prescribed to correct an impairment, improve musculoskeletal function, or maintain a state of well-being. It may vary from highly selected activities restricted to specific muscles or parts of the body, to general and vigorous activities that can return a convalescing patient to the peak of physical condition.
Typically, therapeutic exercise programs consist of endurance, resistance, and flexibility training. All 3 of these can be combined into 1 exercise session, or they can be divided up depending on what works best for the patient.
Patients should be encouraged to progress with their exercise programs so that they can continue to benefit from them. When performing resistance training, patients should be encouraged to exercise the muscle group of interest until they reach their range of motion (ROM) so that all of the muscle fibers in that group are recruited.
In patients who are too debilitated to perform an independent therapeutic exercise program, active range of motion (AROM) and passive range of motion (PROM) should be performed by a therapist, a trained family member, or a caretaker.
Benefits of Therapeutic Exercises
Benefits of therapeutic exercises include:
Increased wellness and fitness levels - No matter what reason you seek physical therapy, therapeutic exercise offers a holistic approach to relief. While exercises can be targeted for a specific injury, they can also help your overall health, including your heart and lungs.
Improved functional capacity - A Therapeutic exercise program assists individuals in reaching their activity goals and at the same time improves their ability to perform the daily activities that require physical exertion.
A stronger body - A therapeutic exercise plan that combines endurance,flexibility and resistance training leads to improving the strength of your entire body, improving the capability to perform daily activities.
Reduced risk for re-injury - A stronger and fitter body means a more stable body. For people dealing with injuries, therapeutic exercises strengthen the muscles around the injured area with the goal of making it less prone to re-injury.
Improved mood and energy levels - People suffering from limited mobility and pain are susceptible to depression and anxiety. A sedentary lifestyle can make it harder to find relief. Therapeutic exercise releases endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers, and can help improve your energy levels so you can be more active.
Less dependence on medication - Therapeutic exercise is an all-natural pain relief and rehabilitation method that treats pain at the source. Medication can only mask symptoms and may become habit forming. Following through on a therapeutic exercise program can reduce the need to turn to medication for relief.
Specific Patient Populations - Studies have shown that therapeutic exercise can benefit individuals recovering from or dealing with certain illnesses. Post stroke patients and people suffering from multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's and balance disorders have all shown improvement due to therapeutic exercise.
Therapeutic Exercise Techniques
Range of Motion - These exercises are aimed at increasing the range of motion in your joints and soft tissues. This may be done through active, passive or assisted stretching activities designed to help your joints move better, without pain.
Strength and Endurance - Increasing power, endurance and muscle strength is vital to good balance and stability as well as bone and joint health. Resistance exercises and endurance exercises are designed to increase muscle strength without injury.
Posture - Hours spent at desks, bending over keyboards, poor muscle tone, or simple habits can all lead to poor posture. What you may not realize is that posture has a direct impact on muscle strength, balance and a tendency toward injury. Posture exercises are aimed at correcting poor posture, not just when you exercise, but in your life in general which can help reduce aches and pains.
Balance & Coordination - Every time you sit or stand, bones and muscles work in conjunction with one another to help you remain upright. Every time you stand, walk, sit, perform daily activities such as cooking or climbing stairs in your house, you are testing your coordination between the muscular and skeletal systems in your body. Your ability to care for yourself or your loved ones depends on your ability to balance and the coordination of your arms, legs, hands, and feet. That is why balance and coordination exercises are so important, especially after an injury or illness. If you cannot balance, if you lose coordination, you lose the ability to care for yourself.
Relaxation - While it is important to work the muscles, joints, and soft tissues in the body, it is also important to help them relax. Pain relieving techniques including heat, cold, electrical stimulation, massage, or trigger point therapy can all help the body relax, improve your sleep, lower your blood pressure, and keep you coming back for more exercise!
Area Specific Exercises - It’s easy to think of exercise as something we do with our muscles, but it is also important to help the body’s other systems. In these cases, exercises that target breathing or circulation may be recommended to help speed healing, improve blood flow or lower stress on the body.
Use Therapeutic Exercise to Improve your Life
Therapeutic exercise can help improve our range of movement and improve overall quality of life.
In November 2018, the Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee of the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services released the following guidelines on physical activity based on age:
Children aged 3-5 years: Should be physically active throughout the day to enhance growth and development.
Children aged 6-17 years: Sixty minutes or more of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per day.
Adults: At least 150-300 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity, OR 75-150 minutes per week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, OR an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity; muscle-strengthening activities should be performed on two or more days per week.
Older adults: Multicomponent physical activity to include balance training, aerobic activity, and muscle-strengthening activity.
Our team at Couve Health are movement experts, trained in improving strength, range of motion, and overall function of the body. If you are recovering from an injury or want to kick off an exercise program to improve your overall health as a preventative measure, our team is here to assist. We will work with you to design an individualized plan equipped with the therapeutic exercises you need to meet your goals. Book your appointment online today.