My patients are used to having “homework” as an important piece of their treatment plan. Hands-on massage therapy time is important, but to make progress, I ask my patients to be active participants. I assign different exercises and hydrotherapy depending upon the patient’s condition, lifestyle, and stage of healing.
A common first step is range of motion exercises. These are very simple exercises, moving one body part slowly back and forth – maybe swinging your arm like a pendulum, or moving your wrist from the pinky side to the thumb side and gradually seeing if you can increase your range of motion. I’ll often have patients do this one more often than a stretch or strengthening exercise, and sometimes you will even use your hands to assist you. A yoga pose that I use for spinal range of motion is called the cat-cow pose:
- Increase or maintain how far a joint will let you move in a given direction
- Increase local circulation
- Gentle exercise while your body heals
- Gentle stretching and strengthening
- With your breath, perform the exercise demonstrated, 10-15 times
- Repeat often through the day, 10 times is great (or every time you get a drink of water)