Do my exercises really matter?
So you’ve been to see the chiro, and they’ve sent you home with a home program of daily exercises. It likely involves a combination of stretches, mobility exercises and some strengthening exercises. The question is, will it make a difference?
The research says YES!
One paper published in 2015 showed that in a group of office workers with neck pain, there were significant improvements of pain and quality of life in those who were on an exercise plan of twice per day, 5 days a week, for one month. It is also interesting to note that compared with patients who performed the exercises less than 3 times per week, those whose exercised three or more times per week yielded significantly greater improvement in neck function and their perception of their quality of life.
Another paper, reviewing available evidence for exercise therapy for neck pain, found that there is a role for strengthening, endurance and stretching exercises (in combination) in the treatment of chronic neck pain and associated conditions such as headaches and nerve pain.
So there is some evidence to say that stretching and strengthening exercises may help (neck pain, at least), but why can’t I just see my chiro and let them do the hard work?
In most cases, the underlying problem causing musculoskeletal pain isn’t new; it’s been building up for a while due to things like poor posture, sustained sitting or standing, repetitive manual work and dysfunctional movement patterns. This is pretty common, when everyone is busy, and a lot of time is spent sitting down in front of a computer or looking down at a phone.
Our bodies are designed for functional and regular movement – so as we continue to do the same dysfunctional action or sit in the same position, the muscles start to compensate for the changes. Some of them tighten up (like our hip flexors do when we sit a lot), and others “turn off” and become weak with disuse (like the muscles that draw our shoulders down and back).
Your exercises are designed to reverse those changes – stretch the tight muscles, activate and strengthen the weak muscles, restore functional patterns to your everyday life. The idea is to treat the cause of the problem, so that your pain will go away, and then stay away.
Still not sure you’ll get it done? You’re not alone.
Here are some tips to help you get on top of your personal exercise program:
Do your exercises at the same time every day; first thing in the morning, or in your lunch break, or as soon as you get home from work, or once the kids have gone to bed, or just before you brush your teeth in the evening. 30 minutes is only 2% of your day, and it probably won’t even take that long.
Write yourself a note, or print out your exercises and stick them somewhere you’ll see them – stick them on the fridge, on the shower door, in the living room, in your diary. Don’t give yourself an opportunity to forget.
Add different exercises to a normal part of your day: neck stretches are great to do in the shower, with the warm water already working towards loosening those tight muscles! Hip range of motion exercises can be done just before you get out of bed – what a great way to start waking up your body!
Set a reminder using the Physitrack app: PhysiApp. You can track your progress so you can work towards being more consistent (and feeling better!)
Got some other suggestions? Let us know what has worked for you!
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