- 1Do your homework - Trust me, I can always tell which patients do their exercises and which ones don’t. I get a kick out of the blank stares I get after asking patients to show me their technique! Ultimately, not completing your “physio homework” delays your progress and prolongs treatment. Sure, I don’t work out 7 days a week and therefore would never expect a patient to either, but in order to improve flexibility, strength and/or motor control, you have to be persistent and consistent. My advice is to schedule your homework sessions into your calendar and commit to them like you would an actual appointment. Hold yourself accountable and you will reap the benefits!
- 2Fuel your body right - This one comes back to the old adage “you are what you eat.” Making sure you are nourishing yourself with the right fuel will benefit your recovery process. I advocate that patients try their best to ensure they are drinking lots of water, consuming nutrient dense, whole foods and avoiding overly processed items. We don’t have great evidence for the use of specific vitamins and supplements that will help to speed healing but we definitely have enough evidence that the body thrives when provided with a nutritious and balanced diet.
- 3Utilize analgesics/anti-inflammatory agents - If you have been advised by your doctor or pharmacist to take analgesic or anti-inflammatory medication, make sure you are taking it properly. Similarly, if you are advised to use ice or heat by your physiotherapist, make sure you are consistent. Sometimes, if you only use these adjunct treatments when you are aggravated or have increased pain they aren’t as effective- regular and consistent usage can prevent flare-ups and maximize their potential benefit.
- 4Take advantage of other therapies - Obviously, I think physiotherapy is great, but there are many other therapies that can be beneficial too. I have several patients who see other practitioners such as massage therapists, osteopaths and acupuncturists. I don’t think there is any problem in seeking other rehabilitation therapies but do try to avoid a “too many cooks in the kitchen” scenario. Seeking several therapies hoping that something sticks isn’t effective- talk to your physiotherapist about what other treatments may be beneficial for you. Always try to ensure your practitioners have the ability to communicate with one another and discuss how appointments should be timed in order to avoid over treatment.
- 5Maintain your gains! - Just because your symptoms go away, doesn’t mean you are out of the woods. If you stop doing everything that helped make you feel better, your signs and symptoms may return. It is always my hope that I empower my patients with the knowledge and understanding (and a few exercises) they need in order to prevent any recurrence. Once you are on the path to success with your rehabilitation, why get off it? Hopefully your physiotherapy experience gives you an appreciation for your body and how important it is to always take care of it.
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