Nothing changes if nothing changes.
Getting stronger and improving movement can help our bodies cope with the stresses and strains of everyday life. Strengthening our bodies will help reduce the risk of injury occurring. This is why we put an individualised exercise plan together for you to follow to help you achieve your specific goals whether that is returning to sport, managing daily tasks with reduced discomfort or maintaining your current level of mobility.
With the exercises we teach you, we aim to improve your symptoms and how well your body manages day-to-day functioning rather than “curing” a structural issue. The exercises are to help improve quality of life, by allowing you to get on with your day to day activities without being in as much pain or experiencing some of the symptoms that are affecting you.
This can vary from person to person. Some people experience improvement in just a few weeks, but research has shown that long-term strength changes occur from approximately 8 weeks onwards. It is important to keep doing the strength training in the longer term to get the best results.
Most patients we see come to us because they are in pain. Often it is unrealistic to expect to complete exercise with no pain at all, especially if you are experiencing some discomfort at rest. Therefore, we use a pain scale to gauge discomfort, and whether we need to make your exercises a little easier or can manage to make things a bit harder. As we mentioned before, nothing changes if nothing changes so it is important for you to make sure you keep following your exercise plan to help improve your movement and strength over time.
It’s important to remember that the level of pain you may experience while exercising doesn’t directly relate to damage being done to the body. Pain is produced by signals from the brain. When you are exposed to theses pain signals for a long time your brain can become over-sensitive to them. Physiotherapy and education can help reduce this sensitivity.
If you are interested to know more about this read through this great booklet – Understanding persistant pain – Mike Stewart
Once symptoms have started to settle down, it is a good idea to start completing some gentle exercise again, such as gentle movement exercises. Once these are manageable, reintroduce the strengthening exercises again gradually.
Noises in joints are common, and when not accompanied by pain, are harmless. Noise in joints is called crepitus and can be present in all the population.
You will be given a structured plan by your physiotherapist or exercise therapist detailing how many days a week you should do the exercise, how many to do (reps and sets) and what weight to use whilst completing them. It can be tempting to push yourself to the limit to get results faster, but that approach rarely works. No pain no gain doesn’t apply within rehab. Pacing your activities is key to success.
Tom Goom has put together some great tips to help with successful pacing –Boom and Bust – Tom Goom
However, if you are completing your plan regularly and correctly you should notice improvements, and you may not feel as tired at the end of each set of exercises. This indicates you may be ready to progress your training plan.
See question How do I know when to make the exercise harder/easier? Below for further information
You should be given guidance from your physiotherapist or exercise therapist as to how often you should do your exercises, as this will differ from person to person based on the goal of the exercises.
It is important to engage in some type of physical activity to maintain health and fitness. It is recommended for everyone to take part in at least 150 minutes of exercise a week. Finding an activity that you enjoy will improve motivation which increases the likelihood of you continuing to exercise. Further information can be found by clicking the link below.
It is vital to progress a plan to continue to improve. As exercise therapists we design our plan based around 4 main points.
· How often to do it
· How hard you should be working
· How long to do it for
· Which activity you should do
To progress an exercise plan it is important to make 1 change at a time. Gradually changing 1 element instead of a drastic jump in activity will reduce the risk of a flare up in your condition. Choosing which element to adjust will depend on long term goals, access to equipment and time available to you.
Everything weighs something. This means that just because you haven’t got specific gym equipment at home, you can still find something to use as a weight. Ideal items to use are things you can hold comfortably, such as a bottle of water, or tin of food. Another alternative is to fill a bag with heavier items, such as books, if you need a heavier weight.
You may want to restart an activity that you were doing before developing your pain/injury. However, you can’t expect this to be an instant return to your activity, as this risks re-injury. As with the structured rehab plan we have designed for you a gradual and phased approach is best. For example, if you were previously running 10k 3 times a week and you haven’t done so for 6 months you would have to build back up to that slowly. It may feel very frustrating and as if you are starting from scratch but try to focus on the benefits of this long term.
Find something you enjoy doing and that is manageable with your symptoms. We encourage all patients to continue with a strengthening programme to maintain function but there are many other activities that you may find beneficial.
– Walking/running – good for cardiovascular fitness and maintaining bone density. Plus, its free!
– Low level aerobics/dance classes- great social aspect that isn’t such high impact
– Cycling – Low impact strengthening that also improves cardio fitness.
– Pilates/yoga – low impact strengthening focussing on core stability and stretching/ROM
– And now, more popular than ever, home exercise videos – very convenient and something available for all levels.
We can also refer you to our local leisure centres where you will receive ongoing support regarding a gym-based programme, or you can attend our open gym facilities in Eye or Ipswich. Opening times and pricing in the link below.
In some circumstances a support bandage can be used for short periods. However, we do not recommend wearing one all day. We also suggest taking off at night when sleeping unless instructed by your physiotherapist. If you are wanting to return to a specific sport but feel you need to wear a support all day, this may mean you are not ready to return at this point, therefore some more rehab may be required.