Updated: Nov 13
Recently I found myself having back pain after a hard workout. As a physical therapist, I immediately started assessing myself to determine where my pain was coming from and what I should do next. Lucky for me, it happened right before the holiday weekend and so I knew I would get a break from the workouts, at least at that level. Yet, how was I going to maximize this time to make sure I was ready to get back at it the next week?
It is very easy for me to put off taking care of my pain because it’s what I do all day, treating others to help them feel better. I also make my busy schedule and ongoing movement an excuse to not sit down and work on treatment to decrease my pain and work to prevent its return.
I think many of us are like this. We find any way possible to not put the effort into our treatment plan and dismiss the effects of what effort can do. I’ve got some ideas for you to find ways to make the time you need to treat yourself and get back to the activities you love.
Incorporate the Exercises Into Your Life
I preach this to all of my clients. Don’t try to make the time for your exercises, but instead, incorporate them into your life.
If you’re working on your shoulder and need to do shoulder blade squeezes, do them at every red light, after sending each email, or when finishing a phone call.
If you need to strengthen your glutes to decrease your knee pain, practice squeezing them when you get up from sitting, going up the stairs, jumping, pushing the gas pedal, or during each commercial while watching tv.
If you are struggling to learn how to turn on your core muscles, practice contracting them while doing the dishes, brushing your teeth, or driving. In this post, I share more about how to brace your core.
Once we start completing the exercises while we do life each day, our brain learns how to turn these muscles or postures on when we need them to protect our body. It’s called neurological re-education.
The Best Time to Fit in Your Exercises
If you need focus to do the exercises provided to you by your physical therapist, in order to figure out how to turn the muscles on and make sure you get the repetitions then do them first thing in the morning and before going to bed.
A lot of times our pain is worse when we first wake up and/or by the end of the day. This is common because when we first wake up, our bodies have been stationary for a prolonged period and we have to lubricate our joints, get our blood pumping, and wake the muscles up to get moving.
Others have more pain by the end of the day as we have progressed through our tasks, put strain on our body, and forgotten to use our muscles to protect our joints. By completing our exercises at the end of the day or before going to bed, we provide our body with relief, stretching, and relaxation. To learn more about home exercise programs and why PT's prescribe them, click here!
We Won’t Get Relief from Resting or Being Stationary
It is very easy to go straight to bed when we experience pain. And, don’t get me wrong, sometimes we need to rest from the activities that cause us pain. However, avoiding a motion or activity that causes pain vs complete bed rest are different.
As we physical therapists say, “Motion is Lotion” because our bodies need mobility to keep our blood pumping through our joints, strength in our muscles, and our range of motion normal. It’s how we move throughout the day and it’s how we heal.
For example, I was scared to return to my workouts, specifically heavy weight lifting, because that’s how I injured myself. However, when I got back into the gym, used a lighter weight, focused on my core control and posture, and completed the workout, I felt much better! It was the best thing I could have done for my back and I have continued to feel some better each day since!
You Can Do It…and I’m Here to Help!
Start somewhere. Do a little bit of movement each day. Start to incorporate your exercises and postures in your day. Work with a PT to progress your mobility safely and with control to prevent reinjury.
If you don’t have a physical therapist or not sure where you need to start to address your pain, then I am here to help you. Let’s do a consultation and discuss your current situation and goals to see what the best step is for you. That’s the first step and you can do it!
Schedule a free consultation by clicking here.