General Rules for Home Rehab Program:
The following general rules can be applied to most home regimens. However, if your health care provider specifies a different approach, you should follow their specific instructions.
What should I wear for home rehab?
You should wear appropriate, non-restrictive clothing and should be in an environment which is safe and conducive to performing the type of exercises you will be doing. Make sure there are no dangerous objects in your way. It is generally a good idea to perform your exercises on a soft, but firm surface, such as an exercise mat or appropriately padded exercise room floor.
What do I need to do to warm up?
It is important to perform a general warm up prior to the rehab exercises. This can be accomplished by 10 to 15 minutes of brisk walking, exercise biking, or other similar activity which you find comfortable. Note that you should NOT perform any activity which increases your pain. For example, if you are recuperating from a stress fracture in your foot, you should NOT try to warm up by running. Instead, exercise biking, arm ergometer, or pool based warm-up would be more appropriate.
If you do not yet have full range of motion in the affected area, it is a good idea to focus on gentle range of motion exercises before moving on to strengthening exercises. This should be done for 3 to 5 minutes, and should feel comfortable. DO NOT push into or through pain. Instead, stay in the range of motion which is painless for you. Over time, this range should gradually increase.
How much should I do?
When starting strengthening exercises, it is usually recommended to start off with 1 set of 8-10 repetitions, using either no resistance or a light resistance. Focus on proper technique, and ensuring that you have no pain or uncomfortable sensations throughout the motion. Gradually, you can increase your exercise volume (how much total exercise you do) to 2-3 sets of 15-20 repetitions. You may also gradually increase the resistance that you use, but it is a good idea to only change one variable at a time. For example, if you are increasing the number of repetitions or sets, do not also increase your resistance on the same day.
For stretching exercises, it is important to ensure you are warmed up first. If you have already done a general warm-up , and have then done some range of motion and strengthening exercises, your muscles should now be appropriately warmed up for stretching. It is generally recommended to perform 4-5 repetitions for each stretch. You should move into each stretch slowly and carefully, and hold a comfortable stretch for 25-30 seconds. Hold the stretch without bouncing, and make sure you keep breathing. Do NOT force the stretch or push into or through pain.
For balance training exercises in particular, make sure that you have a good spotter, in case you lose your balance. Similarly, make sure that there is nothing sharp or dangerous which you could fall or bump into if you lose your balance.
How often should I do this?
A home rehab program is most effective when it is performed on a regular basis. If you can, try to go through the entire program once per day. If you do not have time to do the whole program in one session, it is usually OK to break up the routine into 2 or more parts, to fit with your busy schedule. When you have improved, your health care provider may encourage you to continue with a maintenance program. This may or may not include all of the exercises in your initial regimen, and is usually done 3 to 4 times/week. This maintenance program is designed to prevent the problem from re-occurring.
Should I expect to have any pain?
If you experience discomfort during any part of the program, you should stop that exercise. If the discomfort is mild, you may attempt to modify the offending exercise so it feels comfortable. This may involve decreasing the range of motion, decreasing the resistance, or decreasing the volume or intensity of exercise you are doing. If you still experience discomfort, you should stop doing the offending exercise and notify your health care provider. Try to provide as much detail as you can about how you were doing the exercise and what you felt. Sometimes, your health care provider may suggest a change in your technique. In other situations, you may need to avoid a certain exercise for a while.
Please write down any questions or concerns that arise as you go through your program, and review these with your health care provider.