By George Barlow
One of the biggest roles of a physical therapist is patient education. A very common question that patients ask is, “what can I do at home?” Oftentimes, simple exercises are prescribed at home, and performing them consistently and correctly can have a positive affect on patient outcomes. But a concept that is greater and more important than an exercise routine is developing an understanding how to move.
Understanding how each muscle performs a task and applying those principles to everyday movements or activities also has a positive impact on rehabilitation. For example, slightly drawing the belly button closer to the spine when walking, hiking, or lifting an object or children will create spinal stability. That simple activation of deep lumbar muscles will help protect the spine and develop strength that is needed to move more efficiently and with less pain.
Simple exercises that are outlined on a piece of paper for instruction are often relatively easy to perform; the challenge is developing the consistency to do them two or three times per week. The second way of exercising, which requires changing your approach to movement can be more difficult and challenging. These principles are not easy to apply. They take practice and repetition over and over again to get them right. The good news is, they can be applied to everyday movements or tasks. Extra time does not have to be taken out of the day, but they do require collection of thought before the movement is actually performed.
Next time you lift, walk, carrying or climb, take a moment to analyze how you are moving, and adjust your movements to try to strengthen your muscles and spine.
Featured photo credit Flickr user planetc1, labeled for reuse under Creative Commons.