Of all the interventions at the physiotherapist’s disposal, exercise has consistently been scientifically proven as being the most effective for long term results. Electrotherapy modalities and manual techniques have been shown to decrease pain and increase the range of motion of a joint respectively, but the strengthening and stability gained by a joint or muscle through a tailor made exercise program is second to none.
This begs the question: Why can’t I just do the exercise at home rather than with my therapist?
A recently published Norwegian study aimed to find whether there was any difference between a home exercise program versus supervised exercises over a 6 week period for people suffering from subacromial impingement (shoulder pain). Symptoms were monitored via patient feedback on pain and measured range of motion pre and post treatment. Both groups were given the same exercises and stretches to be carried out twice daily.
Upon the study’s conclusion, ¾ of participants in the home exercise group still showed clinical signs of impingement on testing. This was compared to just under ½ of the participants in the supervised exercise group.
Although both groups showed decreased pain and disability in addition to improved range of motion, the added benefits of supervision i.e. prompting, on the spot exercise correction and the psychological boost of therapeutic intervention, make supervised exercises superior to a simple home exercise program.
Next time you visit your therapist, don’t consider the exercise component of your rehabilitation as a cure, but as a scientifically proven way to help your condition.