The biggest mistake patients make post physical therapy rehab is not practicing the healthy habits we lay out below in this article.
There can be nothing better than getting back on track after an injury with a good round of physical therapy rehab. You finally feel strong enough to take on physical tasks all by yourself without the help of your physical therapist! Congratulations! That's truly some great news.
Unfortunately, even though you might be feeling at the top of the world right now with your renewed physical capabilities, you need to practice and inculcate certain habits to ensure that you have a successful outcome from rehab.
What are these habits? Let's explore some habits we like to instill into our patients here at Back in Motion Physical Therapy & Performance.
Do Your Homework
The truth is that rehab is only successful in the long term. This means that a short 30-day program or even a 60-day program is not going to cut it. Therefore, you must complete your homework set by your physical therapist every day, even after rehab.
It might be a little troublesome to take out time every day and work on your stiff muscles and bones. But as your teachers in school always said, “Practice makes perfect!” And this is super important when it comes to physical rehab. Your muscles will be stronger, for sure, but you need to continue working on the exercises that your physical therapist has recommended to you every day.
Feed Your Body Well
A lot of people forget the role that nutrition plays in healing the body after an injury. Yes, performing the physical exercises is extremely important, but you are genuinely going to get results only if you properly feed your body. This is why you need to set up an individualized nutrition plan either with the help of your physical therapist or a nutritionist and stick to it until your body attains a sense of normalcy. And while you’re at it, remember to feed your soul with the right attitude too!
If you are a fitness freak or an athlete, you will definitely be aware of the wonderful effects that water has on your body. You might not have felt like reaching for the water bottle when you were in pain before, but now that your pain has subsided, you need to get back on track.
Try to drink at least 2 liters of water every day (or at least half of your body weight in ounces). This is essential for helping your body to repair and recover in the long run.
Rest And Recover
If you are just recovering from an injury, it is essential to give your body the time it needs to heal from it. This comes in the form of adequate sleep and rest. You need to ensure that you are getting at least seven to nine hours of sleep every night. This will allow your body to continue repairing muscles and tissues even after your rehab has been completed.
You should also ensure that you follow good sleep hygiene, including inculcating habits such as going device-free for at least an hour before you sleep (to ensure that you get good quality of sleep every night) and so on.
Refrain From Your Vices
If you drink alcohol or smoke tobacco, your physical therapist will most likely recommend that you hold off from the substances for a while, even after rehab. Alcohol and tobacco are going to impair your progress in the long run which is why you need to refrain from indulging in these habits, at least until you have got your body back to its optimal condition.
Get Back Into Shape
A severe injury and months of physical rehabilitation can set you back a massive amount in terms of your physical health. After all, you have been concentrating on getting the injured part of your body stronger all this while.
But what about the rest of your body? If you are an athlete or a sports person, you must get back into shape to begin your daily physical activities as soon as possible. Work closely with your physical therapist and build an exercise regimen for you to follow so that you can get back on the field as quickly as possible.
You lose muscles much faster than you build them. The more strength you lose, the weaker and more sluggish and tired you become.
It’s a dangerous downward health spiral that may lead you back where you started or worse off than where you were. Not continuing to stay active and mobile after rehab is the biggest mistake our patients make post physical therapy.
Without continued fitness training, you risk losing your mobility and independence. Check out this article we wrote explaining why it's best to hire a personal trainer post-rehab!
What To Do If You Begin Experiencing Pain Post-Rehab?
Several patients may experience aches and pains even after rehab. This might occur if the recommended home exercise program is not being followed in the proper manner or if you are putting extra strain on your weakened muscles.
The most important thing to remember here is never to ignore the pain! Here is a great article that helps discern what workout pains you should never ignore. You must, and I repeat, must contact a physical therapist so that you can work on the pain as soon as possible.