I don’t floss every day. Not that you really want to know my oral hygiene. I’m telling you this because I empathize with my patients who don’t do their exercises. Many times, once I close the door to the treatment room, my little space turns into a confessional as the people I’m treating cathartically admit “I haven’t done my exercises.” (Weep and wail, weep and wail). At which point, since I’m not a priest, there is no absolution, but I at least sympathize with the lack of follow-through, since I struggle with it myself and we move on trying to help the pain and dysfunction go away.
I sympathize with the invisible barriers that get in the way of doing your exercises, but as I am no priest, neither am I a shaman. I cannot, magically, make you better (most of the time). It requires personal commitment to do what is necessary, take what is done in the clinic and maintain those improvements. Unlike other professions who treat musculoskeletal pain, we want you to be independent in your care and as much as we enjoy seeing you, we don’t want you to come indefinitely.
I frequently instruct patients to do exercises for pain relieving purposes. Other therapists give exercises to improve posture. There are exercises to improve painful movement patterns. Of course many people learn “core strengthening” exercises. Those exercises are really coordination exercises for the muscles to control spinal motion. Occasionally, there is true muscle weakness and a strengthening program is necessary and that goes for short muscles and stretching. Hopefully, whomever is your PT, he or she is not supplying you with exercises, just to give you something to do (I always hated busy work). The idea is that the exercises are suited to you and/or there is evidence that a certain prescription of exercises commonly reduces the pain you are experiencing. If you don’t understand or are skeptical of the exercises you were instructed in, please speak up! I want you to believe in what you are doing to help you decrease the pain you are experiencing. Whatever you need, I want to facilitate the proper execution of your home exercises. So, your experience at Back to Motion, to get you ‘back to motion,’ and moving forward is better than my experience at the dentist.