If you’ve been injured in an auto accident, you probably had to go through some type of rehabilitation. During that time, your chiropractor, physical therapist, or doctor likely gave you a home exercise program (HEP).
The exercises might make you sore. Or they might be so easy they seem silly. Or you might think you don’t have 20 minutes a day to perform the HEP. No matter how you feel about icing your knee or stretching your shoulder, it’s important to follow the HEP anyway. Here’s why.
What is a Home Exercise Program?
A HEP is the “homework” given to help you recover from your injuries. It includes some combination of stretching, strengthening, and mobility exercises, combined with a regimen of icing, heat, and possibly pain and/or anti-inflammatory medication. Your HEP starts during rehab and continues for a period of weeks or months, depending on your condition. Some elements of the program may continue indefinitely.
Why You Need to Follow Your Home Exercise Program
Your HEP is an important part of recovery. The HEP builds on all the benefits you get from physical therapy and/or chiropractic care. Repetition and consistency bring the most benefits from stretching, strengthening, and mobility exercises. Two visits with your PT each week isn’t enough time to work out adhesions or correct a nagging dysfunction. The HEP adds that time without the extra cost of dozens in-person (or video) visits.
Why You Should Not Give Up on Your Home Exercise Program
According to an article by Adrian Masoni, PT, DPT, of Breakthrough Physical Therapy in Sunnyvale, compliance is key to success. People who followed a HEP four times a week have less pain than those who did their exercises three times a week.
There are many reasons why people stop following their HEP. The exercises may make you feel sore. If it’s muscle pain (like the soreness you feel after a hard workout) that’s normal and will pass. If you feel sharp pain or joint pain, talk with your PT. Your PT will either find a way to modify the exercise or find something different.
Some people stop their HEP because the exercises are too easy or because they’re feeling better. It’s important to follow your program until your PT says otherwise. This ensures you don’t lose all the benefits you gained from therapy. It’s like nutrition (another important part of recovery). If you start eating healthier and lose 10 pounds, if you go back to eating junk you’ll gain it all back and more. Stick with the program to increase your chances of staying pain free.
Think you don’t have time? You can fit in exercises during TV commercials, during your lunch break at work, or after you put the kids to bed. Talk to your therapist or your doctor to figure out a plan that works for you.
Auto, bike, pedestrian, and on-the-job accidents can all cause serious injuries. Without the right treatment, including rehabilitation, those injuries can become chronic problems that bother you for years. Do the rehab and follow your HEP now so you can get back to the quality of life you deserve.
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