At first glance there may not seem to be a difference between exercise and rehab, but the subtle differences are important. After an injury or illness, a specific part of your body may become weak and need to be exercised in a specific manner in order to strengthen that area again to return to full function or regain as much as possible. Our body’s physiology is a complex group of systems that usually work in conjunction with each other so when one system is damaged it can affect others. Rehab exercises can incorporate a wide variety of specialized exercises to target the affected area. From sports injuries to cardiac rehab or even recovery from a stroke can all be treated with some formal rehab and exercises targeted to help recover and regain functionality. Your injury and exercise regimen will dictate what type of equipment you may need, but some of them include:
Made from rubber or latex these exercise balls can be used to increase balance, flexibility, and even strengthen your core muscles. Through exercises or even incorporated into yoga or Pilates exercises, exercise balls can make rehabbing a fun and intriguing event.
Our balance is closely related to our sense of proprioception. During a rehab or exercise program, the use of balance or wobble boards are commonly used in lower extremity rehab. Your physical therapist may have you start with very simple easy exercises and then progress to more difficult, strenuous activities as you regain your strength and balance during your healing process. The use of balance tools is not limited to lower body injuries and can be incorporated into rehabbing upper body issues such as shoulder injuries.
One basic way to improve strength is by using weights such as dumbbells. These are available in a variety of weights and allow you to progress to increased or heavier amounts. This will allow you to take the baby steps necessary to incrementally strengthen muscles in and around any injured area in a safe manner. What’s important to remember is to progress at a rate that does not reinjure the original injury or create a new one. Your therapist can give you exercises that you can do at home while watching television or at your leisure. Available in a variety of makeups, you can have ones made of just metal or for comfort maybe a foam grip. Some can have plates added or subtracted in order to raise or lower the desired weight.
Much like weights and dumbbells, these pieces of equipment are used predominantly for strength and muscle improvement. Their largest benefit is the fact that bands and tubing provide resistance throughout the range of movement. Not only do they provide resistance during contraction of muscle, but they provide resistance throughout the full range of motion. Since rehabilitation exercises are done in stages, these bands/tubing come in many different resistances so you can progress from an easy resistance to one more difficult to strengthen the target area. These are easily used at home once your therapist teaches you the proper technique of each exercise you should be performing.
One of the properties of water is that it basically applies pressure in all directions, including upward. Aquatic rehab tools minimize the effect of gravity during rehabilitation. Working out in water minimizes the impact on our joints and tissues, so you can improve and strengthen muscles without the fear of overtaxing your joints. Water also offers gentle resistance while taking advantage of the benefits of buoyancy. Many times you can incorporate specially designed equipment to maximize the efficacy of any aquatic workout. This can minimize your time in the pool and get you back to your daily life quicker.