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Exercise Prescription

Exercise Prescription

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a person holding two weights for at-home exercise
What Is Exercise Prescription?

Exercise prescription, also known as therapeutic exercise, is a customized set of exercises created by your physical therapist which you will perform and practice at home.

During the creation of this therapeutic exercise plan, your physical therapist will consider your specific condition (restrictions, limitations, necessary modifications, etc.), recovery goals, and what equipment you have access to. This will help to ensure appropriate carryover and optimize success throughout your plan of care.

The exercises will vary based on the individual and their goals; they may include strength training, mobility practice, stretching, cardiovascular or muscular endurance exercises, or balance training. Exercise prescription is an incredibly important part of your physical therapy treatment, and is essential to reaching your health and fitness goals.

You will be asked to practice these exercises for the entire duration of your treatment—it’s also recommended to continue some form of these exercises even after you’ve completed your “formal” plan of care. These exercises will start at an appropriate but challenging level, and will change over the course of treatment as you gain strength, coordination, flexibility, and range of motion. Exercises may include:

  • Stretching
  • Range of motion exercises
  • Aerobic training
  • Self-myofascial release using tools such as foam rollers
  • Balance and coordination training
  • Strengthening activities
  • Breathing exercises

Depending on your individual needs, your physical therapist will determine the appropriate frequency, duration, and intensity of the exercises. As your condition improves, they will modify the exercises to continue challenging your system.

This will help you to achieve a level of fitness and function greater than when you first started your plan of care or before your initial injury. The goal is to help prevent a similar condition from presenting again in the future, but if it does, you will have the tools to help move through it quicker than before.

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Who Can Benefit From Exercise Prescription?

Every patient will receive an exercise prescription regardless of what brings them into therapy. This at-home practice prescribed by a physical therapist is essential for recovery and improvement of a condition. A well-curated exercise program is a continuation of physical therapy treatment at home, allowing a patient to incrementally improve their condition between sessions with their therapist’s guidance.

Implementing this exercise prescription, in conjunction with the hands-on treatment (manipulation, tissue scraping, dry needling, etc.) performed during the physical therapy session, will help the patient achieve more gains in a shorter period of time.

Your therapist may recommend the application of therapeutic modalities such as ice or heat after performing the exercises to improve comfort, minimize soreness, and help expedite healing—but this depends on the individual needs of the patient.

Therapeutic exercise plans are not a one-size-fits-all treatment. They vary greatly depending on the patient, their abilities, condition, and health goals. These exercises will change frequently throughout the patient’s care plan, to continue to appropriately challenge them so that they can continue to improve and recover.

What to Expect From Exercise Prescription

Exercise prescription is something that is determined following the initial evaluation and then updated as indicated following each session. Ideally, you will practice your prescribed exercises following your provider’s recommendations. The more you follow your prescription and physical therapist’s recommendations, the better your results will be each session.

Rest assured that your therapist will only assign exercises that you can perform safely and effectively based on your current condition. They will explain how to perform the exercises correctly, and provide appropriate rationale so you can make real-time modifications depending on your body’s response (you can make it easier or harder as needed).

Your therapist will also discuss alternatives for exercises based on the equipment you do or don’t have access to. The goal is to make the exercise program as accessible and reproducible as possible—this will put you in the best position to be successful.

At Hive Therapy and Wellness locations in Rochester Minnesota, we are conveniently located inside of Anytime Fitness, where patients may utilize any equipment and tools needed for their exercises. Our patients even receive a free anytime fitness membership while they are under the care of our physical therapists!

Lastly, remember consistency is key. Patients will see the most improvement and progress by properly following their provider’s recommendations at home between sessions. As with regular exercise, therapeutic exercises may be accompanied by some soreness. However, it is important to remember that pain and soreness are not the same thing, and it does not mean anything was harmed.

Be sure to listen to your body and adjust intensity accordingly. If there is an exercise that truly hurts and you’re not able to modify it, just let your physical therapist know and they will help come up with an alternative. When closely following the instructions given by your provider in terms of frequency and duration, exercise prescription is safe and incredibly effective.

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