Many times we get asked if we can just give a patient exercises to do to fix their issue. While it is our goal to empower the patient to take control of their care, this is rarely the best option for a speedy recovery. While exercise is an important component of your rehab it is mostly compliments the manual therapy that you will receive as part of your Physical Therapy care. Think of a hot dog. Exercise is like the ketchup that you put on the hot dog. It makes the hot dog better, but if you only ate the ketchup it wouldn't be the same.
If exercise alone would do the job, Physical Therapists would be out of a job. There are enough websites describing exercises to fix your pain to make your head spin. The combination of manual therapy and exercise has been proven to be more effective than exercise alone. In the instance where exercise alone could fix your pain, I would still suggest a couple appointments to go over exercise form and progression. The form on your exercises makes a huge difference on the muscles involved, aggravating or alleviating your pain, and building strength and endurance. Exercise progression is important because ideally you would not remain doing the same exercises due to the plateau effect, which is when you don't get stronger and can actually get weaker, which can reverse the benefits you have gained.
While athletic trainers and personal trainers can give you exercise progressions and monitor your form, they may not be able to help you with your pain. Physical Therapists have an extensive education (7-8 years typically) on biomechanics, muscle activation and inhibition, how pain effects exercise, exercise form and progression, swelling, edema, and multiple other factors effecting your condition.
We will work with you to give you as many exercises as you would like to return you to your goals as soon as possible. Discuss your goals with your therapist and together you will develop a plan of care.
Jamie Bovay, DPT, CSCS