Exercise is an integral element of physical therapy that helps accelerate the recovery of patients back to their functioning state. Moreover, these exercises can be done by anyone regardless of their health condition.
While gyms and training facilities are well-equipped with everything you need for exercise, you can still get back into shape without enrolling in any of these. We’ve listed some quick and easy physical therapy exercises you can do at home.
What are physical therapy exercises?
Physical therapy is a focused treatment for patients recovering from serious injuries, illnesses, or surgery. These exercises aim to restore and maintain proper bodily functions. A licensed physical therapist formulates a specific program designed for the patient’s needs and conditions they aim to resolve. This treatment plan includes exercises for restoring strength and mobility.
Physical therapy exercises are commonly offered to recovering individuals. However, it can also benefit people of all ages and fitness levels. They help relieve chronic pains, prevent sports-related injuries for athletes, manage age-related health issues like arthritis, and maintain overall health and well-being. Other benefits include improved muscle and joint strength, flexibility, mobility, and range of motion.
Here are some physical therapy exercises you can try at home.
Do you sometimes feel an ache on your neck during long bouts of staring at your computer screen? Repetitive stress on your neck results in rigid neck muscles. To reduce pain, you can perform stretching exercises to stimulate blood flow and ease muscle tension.
Neck circles are harmless as they are similar to normal cervical motion. They are great warm-up and cool-down exercises as they only require gentle stretching and movement.
This simple neck circle exercise can provide quick relief to your sore neck due to looking at screens for hours.
- Neck circles are best performed in a standing position since it frees up more range of motion compared to when you’re sitting down.
- Look forward and keep your head straight. Take a few moments to prepare your body and relieve tension in your neck and shoulder muscles.
- Keep your feet hip-width apart, arms relaxed on the side, and back straight.
- Tip your head to one side until you feel a stretch, but do not push past this limit. Hold the position for one to two seconds.
- Gently roll your head forward until you press your chin to your neck. Hold this position as well.
- Complete the circle and tip your head to the opposite side from where you started.
- Finish the exercise by rolling your head back and tilting your chin until it points to the ceiling.
- Repeat the process, but go in the opposite direction instead.
Shoulder pains happen when your shoulder muscles stiffen due to poor posture, unnecessary stress, and other factors. There are different physical therapy exercises for shoulder pain relief, and you can try this simple exercise to release tension from your shoulders.
- Shoulder rolls are best performed standing up with your arms by your side and your feet at a shoulder-width distance. You can also do this while seated.
- Create small circles with your shoulder blades.
- Keep your body relaxed and maintain continuous breathing. Increase the diameter of the circular motion with every breath until you reach the limit of your range of motion.
- Repeat the process but with the shoulder rotations going backward this time.
You can try this simple bridge exercise if you’re looking for physical therapy workouts to strengthen your core. It enhances core stability while targeting your glutes and the back of your thighs. Bridge exercises are done as a warm-up and are a great way to stabilize your spine and improve your core. You can complete this exercise on a yoga mat, floor, or bed.
- Lie on your back with your feet on the floor, knees bent, and arms down on the side.
- Tighten your buttocks and lift them off the floor, forming a position similar to a bridge.
- Squeeze your core as you hold this position for about 20 to 30 seconds.
- Return to your initial position gradually and repeat the steps.
Desk jobs require people to spend much time in their workspaces with minimal movement. A sedentary lifestyle, such as sitting in front of the TV or playing on the computer for hours, also results in a lack of exercise.
A simple sit-to-stand exercise can remedy this lifestyle. Also known as chair stand or chair rise, this simple movement can ease you into being physically active after long idle periods. The goal of sit-to-stand is to finish the exercise without using your hands as support.
Sit-to-stand is so simple that you can incorporate it into your daily schedule as you sit down to study, work or watch TV.
- Sit halfway on a sturdy chair. Ensure you have a relaxed posture, your knees are bent, and your feet are flat on the floor.
- Move to a standing position by slowly shifting your weight to the front of your feet.
- Breathe in as you return to your starting position.
- Use your core and abdominal muscles to control your pace. You should lower yourself to your seat and not drop back into it.
- Repeat the process about 10 to 15 times.
Lower Back Stretch
With poor posture comes back pain. Lower back pains can arise from assuming a hunched position for extended periods. It is often accompanied by stiffness and tightening of your lower back muscles. As such, it is important to stretch them out to retain and maintain their flexibility.
Here is a simple lower back stretch exercise you can do while seated.
- Sit with your knees far apart.
- Lean your upper body forward to the floor until you reach a comfortable position for your lower back.
- Hold this position for five seconds.
- Repeat the steps until you feel relief.
Hamstring muscles are located at the back of your thighs. Your hamstrings are responsible for moving your hips and knees for activities such as walking, running, and bending your knees. However, they are more prone to injuries and strains.
Performing simple hamstring stretches can tremendously help not only in preventing leg injuries but also in improving flexibility.
- Lie on your back with one leg raised near your chest and the other lying flat on the floor.
- Slowly stretch the leg near your chest as far as you can. Your leg does not have to be completely straight. As long as you can feel a stretch in the back of your thigh, then it is good.
- Hold this position for 5 to 30 seconds.
- Slowly place your leg down.
- Repeat the same steps on your other leg.
Have you ever wondered how athletes train to jump high and run fast? Training your legs to develop strong calves can propel your running speed and pace and improve your endurance.
Calf muscles are bolstered with regular exercise. Heel raises are perfect for beginners aiming to increase their calf strength. This routine can be completed anywhere in the house with a spot to lean on.
- Stand straight with your feet firmly planted on the ground. You can hold on to a countertop or a sturdy table for stability.
- Slowly raise your heels off the floor. Your knees should be straight as you do this.
- Hold this position for about 5 to 10 seconds before lowering yourself back to the floor.
- Do around ten repetitions of this exercise during the day for the best results.
Move Better with Physical Therapy
These simple exercises can help you continue your physical therapy at home. However, in case you feel more than minor discomforts during your workouts, it’s best to consult a physical therapist so they can modify your routine according to your needs and development.