We all know that an exercise programs should be a cornerstone of an effective care plan. This especially holds true for conditions that are primarily caused by muscle imbalances or dysfunctional movement patterns. Research also shows that exercise is instrumental in preventing and treating chronic pain. But we also know that patients often prefer to avoid exercise during episodes of pain, which sometimes leads to further deconditioning. That’s why it’s our role to help our patients overcome their fear in starting an exercise program in order to make them successful in the long run.
Here some key points to start making your patients more successful with their exercise programs:
♣ Don’t ask your patients to work through pain. Pain alters movement and can therefore lead to more muscular imbalances, dysfunction and pain.
♣ If inhibited muscles are causing dysfunctional movements or pain, only do activation or strengthening exercises after releasing the affected muscles first. This can be achieved though techniques including foam rolling, manual therapy or ISATM performed by the healthcare professional.
♣ If a condition is caused by an altered length-tension relationship of a certain muscle group, incorporate stretching techniques after applying release techniques and before starting motor control or strengthening exercises. We refer to this as the ‘3Rs’: “release, restore, retrain.”
♣ Educate your patients that long term success and pain management is only possible if muscular balances and function are restored, which will only be achieved through long-term and consistent adherence to exercise programs designed individually for the patient’s needs.
♣ Progress patients according to their stage of recovery and feedback. Performing exercises on unstable surfaces or increasing load will help transitioning patients to the next level.
♣ Help patients understand that they must continue doing their programs even after they are pain-free to avoid future flare ups.
♣ Help your patients overcome obstacles to program adherence by minimizing needed equipment or time requirements so they can stick to exercise protocols while traveling or under time constrains.
Example protocol for the ‘3R’ methodology applied to the shoulder:
Release Tight and Restricted Musculature
Restore Proper Motion and Motor Control
Retrain Regional Musculature
Questions, feedback, suggestions? Inbox me at firstname.lastname@example.org
About the author: Friederike is the VP of Business Development and Marketing Strategy at WebExercises. She previously worked for Reebok, BMW, and the Adidas Group in the US and Asia and is an ACE certified personal trainer and NASM Corrective Exercise Specialist.