"How often should I do my exercises?"
This is possibly the most common question I get in clinic when giving clients their homework.
Here's the short answer:
In truth, rehab works in different ways for different stages in injury
Early days, we may be stimulating tissue recovery, so gradual exposure to load, ie stress. This stress stimulates the repair systems to kick in.
It encourages the nervous system to keep that region of the body (probably better to think of it as the brain's perception of that body part) top of mind.
Later, after around 6-10 weeks post injury, any physical healing is likely done with. Bones are healed, muscle sprains are repaired.
So here we're almost certainly either simply building strength back or we're dealing with the brain's perception of the injury site.
Either way, we need to show the brain that the injury site is safe and able to be loaded, so long as we load appropriately.
Too much and we can kick in the brains protection strategies, the very thing we want to get rid of. Too little and there's no change in perception of safety.
So, what does this mean to you doing your rehab drills?
It means little and often.
Do your rehab frequently to keep it "top of mind"
Not top of your already over crowded conscious mind, but top of your subconscious brain map. Here's a representation of that map, the so called Somatic Homunculus:
The idea of this image is to show how much brain "space" is dedicated to the various areas of the body. It's important to understand that any area that isn't used for any length of time comes under threat from neighbouring areas. So an injury may naturally go quiet as we avoid it post injury, think how skinny an arm looks after it comes out a cast. Our rehab then is to "wake up" that area of the brain, to revisit that area of the map.
The more frequently we do this, the better.
It's not necessarily about total volume, just doing 100 reps or so. It's more about doing 1 or more reps multiple times through the day.
And if you are person who is active or that trains, it means integrating the rehab through your activities.
If you have any questions or comments on today's post, please don't hesitate to get in touch.
And if you think this is helpful to anyone you know, please feel free to share.