Physical therapy treatment: Exercise!

Let’s get back to Brad!

celebrity-gifs-brad-pitt-workoutNow that we have determined that Brad is dealing with patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS), we can start creating a treatment plan. It’s important for us, as physiotherapists, to explain what the different treatment approaches are and why they are effective. There are many tools in a physio’s toolbox that can be used to “fix” a problem. We don’t always use all our tools because certain methods have a greater impact than others depending on the type of injury we are dealing with.

So having said that, I want to delve into my favourite treatment tool: EXERCISE! The two big reasons why I love giving patients exercise programs are:

  1. You can take em home! Not only are exercises fun and exciting, but they are also very portable! Typically, the exercises I show require little to no equipment. You should be able to do them wherever and whenever you want! Instead of coming into the clinic every day in the week, you can work on your exercises at home daily and see improvements.
  2. It saves my hands! Yes, this sounds really selfish of me but it’s the truth. There’s quite a bit of “hands on” treatment that physios use. The more methods we can use that do not involve applying a ton of pressure through our wrists, hands, and fingers, the longer we can work! Just like how you don’t want to sit at your desk dealing with neck pain, I don’t want to perform manual therapy on a patient dealing with wrist pain.

Now back to Brad who’s been patiently waiting for me to develop an individualized exercise program for him. Focusing on hip strength generally helps decrease knee pain. The stronger you are in your glutes (your butt muscles, your buns, your ba-donk-a-donk), the more stable your hip is. Would you rather have a really sloppy, loose hip or a strong, secure one? If you answered the former, you must be a few drinks in (it’s noon somewhere!). If you answered the latter, you probably want to give glute strengthening  a shot.

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Other important areas I want to Brad to target are his quadriceps and hamstrings. Quads are found on the front of your thigh and they extend  your knee. Hamstrings are found on the back of your thigh and they flex your knee. It’s quite common to see imbalance patterns in the leg muscles. It’s not surprising to find that someone’s quads that are stronger than their hamstrings or lateral (outside) quads are stronger than medial (inside) quads. Now, it’s all about balance, folks. If Brad has any muscular imbalance, I want to give him exercises that will address it!


Okay, that’s a lot of focus on strengthening muscles. But even our muscles need a bit of R&R. Stretching or using a foam roller is crucial for giving our muscles a break. If all we do is strengthen and shorten muscles, they will eventually crumble under the pressure. Stretching and foam rolling are great ways to restore the flexibility of Brad’s hard working muscles.

Before I let Brad go home and try out his awesome exercise program, I need to make sure he understands them. I always print off pictures of the exercises I’ve prescribed because that makes it way easier for patients to remember to do them and how to do them. And guys, it’s all about quality over quantity. There is no point in doing exercises if you’re not doing them properly! It might even be detrimental if you’re reinforcing the bad habits that brought you to the clinic in the first place! I would way rather Brad get through 10% of his reps while keeping good technique than him truck through 100% of his reps and the majority of them are executed poorly.

Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 6.05.36 PMAnd that’s a wrap on exercise as a treatment! Sounds exhilarating, doesn’t it? Now that I’ve peaked your interest, I’ll get into describing a bunch of awesome exercises for you to try at home in the near future!

– Chris

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