By now, we all know the benefits of physical therapy. Whether you’re healing from an injury or surgery or working to correct an imbalance, PT is your new best friend. However, PT is one of those friends you need to keep up with every day or week – meaning you have to keep up with your PT routine. If you’re anything like me, you follow your routine for some time, get overconfident because you feel better, stop doing your routine, and your injury gets worse all over again. Here are some methods to stay with your PT long-term to reap maximum benefits.
- Make it convenient
Out of sight, out of mind. Making your routine more convenient can help increase the likelihood of completing it. Add something to your surroundings that serve as a visual reminder of your routine. One option is to write your routine out with clarity, detail, and in a way you enjoy. This will help visualize your progression through the sets and make sure no exercise gets skipped. Be sure to put any necessary equipment in an accessible place as well. Foam rollers make for great coffee table decor!
- Stack habits
Integrate your PT routine with another solid routine in your day, such as your morning routine, workout session, or mealtime. This can help ensure a clear time block in your day to complete the exercises, and the established habit will trigger the PT habit.
- Stay accountable
Just like habit stacking, adding an external force to your routine can help fight the urge to skip a day. Try calling a friend while you do PT, or ask your physical therapist to send an automated email once a week to remind you of your progress. You can even set a digital calendar invite to yourself to kick off your routine. What better excuse to go into Do Not Disturb mode?
- Train your brain
Pavlov was right! With enough repetition, you can trick your brain into associating two things together. Anchoring your PT routine to a neurological cue helps signal to your brain that it’s time to do PT. This technique is used to get into focus mode for work, but it can be employed for PT purposes. Music is a great way to establish this association. Try playing a specific song every time you start your PT routine. When repeated over time, this will let your brain remember that it’s time to do the routine when you play the song. Make sure to reserve this song just for PT to create a clear mental boundary.
- Make it rewarding
Treat yourself to your favorite form of self-care to create a positive reinforcement for completing your routine. If you’re short on time, you can multitask by playing your favorite TV show or podcast to entice you through the PT process. Similarly, use PT as a warmup to segue into more activities, such as walking or running.
Sticking to a physical therapy routine long-term isn’t easy, and sometimes life gets in the way. What’s most important is consistency and progress to help improve overall physical health and healing. Now, please excuse me; I’m going to do my own PT exercises!