My physical therapy is going well. I’ve been able to do several 4-5 miles runs without any setbacks, and my physical therapist thinks I am ready to start upping my mileage.
Even though strength training has been part of my regular fitness routine for years, I’ve learned several important lessons during physical therapy.
If your muscles don’t get tired, they won’t get stronger.
I know that you should choose your weights so that it is difficult to finish the last few reps of your last set, but I still tend to breeze through my strength routine. Physical therapy made me realize how much I’ve been short-changing myself by not pushing myself harder. My first physical therapy exercises did not use any weights at all, but required me to hold each rep for 8 seconds. Yowzie! Talk about feeling the burn! My muscles trembled through the last set–but I have been getting noticeably stronger over just the last few weeks.You need to change your routine to keep challenging your muscles.
I have favorite strength exercises that I like to do day in and day out. I just don’t feel like I’ve done my strength routine if I haven’t done overhead presses, push-ups and tricep dips. But my physical therapy “homework” has changed every week. For example, I’ve gone from side planks, to side planks with my feet elevated, to side planks with a twist. I’ve gone from planks on my elbows, to planks on my elbows with one foot raised, to fitball plank moves. Just when I get the hang of an exercise, my trainer takes it to the next level, making sure that my muscles are constantly challenged–and getting stronger.
Focus on form.
Most of my physical therapy exercises are just different enough from exercises that I’ve done before that I have to think about what I am doing. That makes me slow down and focus on what I’m doing, which helps make sure I am engaging the correct muscles. The trainer that works with my physical therapist also explained the importance of resting between sets–muscles need that rest to be able to execute the next set with good form.
If an exercise is too hard, keep trying!
The first time I tried the single-leg airplane stance with a side rotation, I could barely get into the pose, let alone hold it for the requisite 5 seconds. After a few days, I had it figured out, and I could do almost all of the reps without falling over. I was so proud and pleased to see my coordination, strength and balance improve in just a few days. It was a good reminder that just because something is hard doesn’t mean I shouldn’t do it, and just because I can’t do something right the first time doesn’t mean I shouldn’t keep trying.
I know I won’t be working with my physical trainer for much longer, but this experience has reinforced my desire to work with a certified personal trainer–if not on a regular basis at least from time-to-time when my routine needs a tune up.
Have you ever had physical therapy?
Have you worked with a personal trainer?