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What’s the Point of a HEP: Home Exercise Program?

Updated: Apr 10, 2023

If you are seeing a physical therapist, you should have a home exercise program. If you haven’t been given one or told the importance of completing it, then you need to make sure to get one or find a different PT. A home exercise program is vitally important to your progress and overall success in physical therapy. In fact, I find it so important that I consider it one of the reasons you should have a PT in your life! You can read more on that in my blog 3 Reasons Why You Need a Physical Therapist in Your Life.

Your home exercise program is the way that your body makes changes and forms new movement patterns. In order to make these changes, we have to tell our body a new way of moving and teach it how to do it over and over again.

I’m going to discuss in more detail what your HEP should include, how to overcome obstacles to get it done daily, and how to see the most progress. By the time you read through it all, you will be jumping at your chance to incorporate it into your rehab plan.

What Should Your HEP Look Like?

Every home exercise program will be different from person to person and case to case. The reason for this is because the HEP should facilitate movements where the physical therapist found deficits. This can show up in decreased joint mobility/stiffness, muscle weakness, postural or core deficits, etc.

When I do an assessment with you, I will look for deficits that may be causing your pain or limiting you from reaching your goals. Once it is determined what may be the cause, I can manually work to improve some of these deficits and then also provide you with exercises that help facilitate these same ideas. If you're on the fence about going with a PT, click the link to read my post "PT: Physical Therapist or Personal Trainer?"

Completing these exercises every day, regularly is vitally important to see progress between your physical therapy visits. The process of retraining your body to perform a specific movement or use a muscle that you don’t know how to use takes a lot of practice. The goal during our sessions is to increase your mobility or control, etc and then utilize your home exercise to maintain whatever we gained until your next session.

But, But, But…

But, I don’t have enough time in my day to complete my HEP.

But, I always forget to do them!

But, the exercises hurt and increase my pain!

There are a million excuses as to why you wouldn’t, couldn’t, or shouldn’t complete your home program, but let’s go over a few and figure out how to make it more doable.

Creating time for your HEP can be a challenge. The easiest way to to make sure you are completing your home program daily is to incorporate it into your life. Here are a few examples:

  • Working on balance: stand on one leg while brushing your teeth or washing dishes.

  • Working on posture: sit upright at every red light while driving or every commercial while watching tv.

  • Working on mobility in your spine: backbend over your chair every 30 min while sitting at your computer.

You will find that it is much easier to have time to do a few of the exercises here and there in your day than it is to set aside 30 minutes to complete them daily.

If you find that you are forgetting to complete your exercises, let pain guide you. Any time that you start to feel pain, tightness, or stiffness then that needs to trigger your brain to complete a few of the stretches, postural corrections, or exercises.

Also, your HEP should not increase your pain or symptoms. Soreness, however, is a whole other thing and that is typically ok because we are working to use muscles that you aren’t used to using and move joints that are stiff. If you are having pain with your exercises, you should inform your physical therapist so that changes can be made to relieve your symptoms.

At the end of the day, if you are having trouble with your home exercises or not getting them completed then make sure you have a conversation with your PT to find ways to help you.

How Do I See Progress?

Doing your home exercises once in awhile, when you feel like it, or not at all is NOT the way to see progress. You need to consistently tell your body a new way of doing things. In a sense, you have to create a new map to your brain so that it knows and understands the new pattern.

Incorporating the home program into your daily routine is the best way to see progress as your brain understands how to use the new pattern, muscle, or range of motion with movement.

So, squeeze your core muscles while you wash your face, contract your shoulder blade muscles back and down while you sit at your desk, stand on one foot while you wash dishes and you’ll be making gains in no time!

Do You Have a Home Program?

If you’ve had physical therapy before then you should have an HEP. If you don’t or would like to go over yours to see if there is anything else you can do or change, then let’s go over that together! You can schedule a FREE consultation by clicking here. Or, you can schedule an evaluation with me by calling 740-590-3923. Let’s get started so you can be on your way to seeing progress and getting back to the activities you love!

Want to learn more about what a new client can expect? Click here for more information!

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