Almost every injury that comes to Burlington Sports Therapy requires some level of home exercise. Our practitioners regularly offer patients tips and strategies on things they can do at home to assist in their recovery. Home programs can differ greatly. Some conditions require strengthening exercises, some require stretching, some would benefit from balance or proprioceptive exercises, and the list goes on. Some conditions require a more complex set of home instructions. For example, a post-surgical ACL reconstruction would require a gradual, careful rehabilitation plan guided by a professional. Perhaps it’s safe to say this is very different from a mild muscular strain that might benefit from one simple exercise!
The Rotator Cuff Tendinopathy Study
A 2016 study published in the journal Clinical Rehabilitation looked at different strengthening strategies for rotator cuff tendinopathy. The authors of this study decided to investigate whether patients with rotator cuff tendinopathy saw a major difference in improvement when given a simple one exercise rehabilitation strategy as opposed to a more thorough and robust physiotherapy program. The results were interesting. The authors found that for this condition (rotator cuff tendinopathy) patients satisfactorily improved using a one exercise strategy when compared to a more traditional physiotherapy program.
As with any research article, caution should be taken when applying the results to daily practise. This is one study based on rehabilitation for one specific condition. Future studies might contradict these findings. Nevertheless, the findings of this study are interesting. Recently I spoke with someone who informed me that their home rehabilitation program took 45 minutes to complete. I can’t speak for everyone, but I have a hard time finding 45 minutes of time in my schedule! Compliance with the home exercise program then becomes an issue. If I relate this to general exercise, I find there are times when I just can’t do my regular workout because I don’t have the time. Instead of skipping the workout altogether, I might do a quick 15-minute intense workout instead. I’m always glad I did. Doing something is better than doing nothing.
Committing to your Home Rehabilitation Exercises
Perhaps the take home point is that patients and practitioners should be honest with compliance to exercise. Although it might be optimal to review, practise, and understand the ten exercises necessary for your condition, if you’re not going to commit the appropriate amount of time, then perhaps a different strategy is necessary. Be realistic with your rehabilitation and your time. In my opinion, there’s nothing wrong with being honest about the situation so that your practitioner can consider a compromise and give you a more focused home exercise program that can be done on a regular basis.
Are there exercises you can do while sitting on the train on the way to work? Are there rehabilitation exercises you can imbed within your normal schedule? For example, I often instruct my patients with ankle sprains to practise their proprioception (balance) while they are brushing their teeth. Assuming most people brush their teeth a few times each day, you would manage to get two short sessions of training daily! Are there neck exercises that you can do while sitting on the couch in the evening? Perhaps some eccentric strength exercises for your elbow tendinopathy?
Don’t be afraid to speak to your rehabilitation professional about your realistic adherence to a home exercise program. Both you and your practitioner want you to get better and doing some exercise is better than doing none. If you don’t have a practitioner yet or simply need a second opinion from a different practitioner, contact us today. All of the practitioners at Burlington Sports Therapy pride themselves on taking the time necessary to properly treat and educate their patients. This includes a proper explanation of your injury, why it is occurring, the strategies you can use outside of the clinic to help speed the healing process and most importantly, how to prevent your injury from recurring.
Located in Burlington Ontario, we serve Oakville, Burlington, Hamilton and the surrounding areas.
Littlewood C, Bateman M et al. A self-managed single exercise programme versus usual physiotherapy treatment for rotator cuff tendinopathy: a randomised controlled trial (the SELF study). Clinical Rehabilitation 2016; 30(7): 686-696.