Therapeutic exercises are bodily movements specifically designed to correct an impairment, improve musculoskeletal function, or maintain a state of wellbeing. Something as simple as a sit-up can be a therapeutic exercise. Yoga is a form of therapeutic exercise.
Goals of Therapeutic Exercise
Therapeutic exercise is designed to achieve the following goals:
The achievement of symptom-free movement during basic and complex physical activities
- Improved physical function
- Reduced loss of function
- Enhanced functional capabilities for patients
- Decreased impairment and disability
- Improved overall wellbeing, fitness, and health
- Types of Therapeutic Exercises
- Therapeutic exercises come in many different forms. Some of the most popular therapeutic exercises include all of the following:
Range of Motion: Range of motion exercises are designed to maintain and increase range of motion. They include passive, active, and active-assisted range of motion exercises, which can cover techniques like joint mobilization and soft tissue stretching.
Muscle Performance: Muscle performance exercises are designed to increase muscle strength, power, and endurance. They include resistance workouts and endurance exercises.
Postural: Postural exercises are specifically designed to enhance posture.
Balance and Coordination: These exercises improve your balance and coordination.
Relaxation: Relaxation exercises induce relaxation.
Area-Specific Exercises: Area-specific exercises include breathing exercises and circulatory exercises targeted at specific bodily systems.
Easy Therapeutic Exercises Anyone Can Perform at Home
Partial sit-ups can help some patients manage back pain. A partial sit-up works specific muscle groups without putting stress on your lower back. To perform a partial sit-up, start just like you would with a regular sit-up with your back on the floor, both feet on the floor, and your knees bent. Then, raise your head, neck, and shoulders off the floor, holding that position for 5 seconds. A partial sit-up strengthens your core and is easy to do virtually anywhere. Repeat the exercise as many times as possible.
Knee to Chest
Start this exercise the same way you started the partial sit-up: lying on the ground with your back and both feet on the floor and your knees bent. Begin by drawing one of your knees to your chest using both hands. Hold your foot in the air to the count of 10, then slowly release it to the rest position. Repeat this 4 to 5 times, then move to the other leg. Eventually, you can work your way up to doing both legs at the same time. A knee to chest therapeutic exercise stretches your glutes and back.
Get on the floor and position yourself on all fours. Put your hands on the floor directly beneath your shoulders. Then, position your knees directly beneath your hips. Keep your back straight. Then, use your abdominal muscles to push your back towards the ceiling, arching your back like a cat. Your head will naturally point down to the floor. Next, drop your back towards the floor and extend your lower back, causing your head to rise up. Keep your elbows straight throughout the process. The only movement should be in your spine. Repeat this therapeutic exercise 12 to 15 times.
Lie on your back with your arms stretched out to either side of your body. Bend your knees, then lift your feet off the ground. You will rotate your hips to the side, causing your legs to become parallel with the floor. Rotate from side to side 5 to 10 times. This is a core exercise that will strengthen your abdominal muscles.
Low Back Extension
Lie flat on your stomach with your hands stretched to either side of your body. Activate the muscles in your lower back to lift your head and upper body off the ground. Hold the position for 4 to 5 seconds, then lower yourself back down. Repeat the exercise 10 to 15 times to strengthen your lower back muscles.
Lie with your stomach on a stability ball. Hold your hands behind your head and tighten your abdominal muscles. Activate your lower back muscles by contracting your glutes until your shoulders and chest lift off the ball.
Lie face down with your arms raised above your head. Tighten your abs, then lift your arms and legs off the ground – kind of like Superman when he’s flying around. Hold the pose for 30 seconds, then release. Avoid holding your breath when clenching your abs. Many people instinctively hold their breath when clenching their abs, but it’s more important to maintain steady, controlled breathing.
Sit normally in a chair. Reach one arm across your stomach to grab the opposite side of the chair. Look over your shoulder while rotating your lower and middle back. Hold the position for 15 to 30 seconds.
Double Leg Lifts
Lay face down on a stability ball, positioning your stomach on the ball and your hands on the floor in front of the ball. Raise your legs off the floor until your body is horizonal. Hold the position for 10 seconds, then lower your legs back down to the floor. Repeat the exercise 5 to 10 times.
External Shoulder Rotation
Lie on your right side, folding your right arm underneath your head. Hold your upper left arm parallel to your torso, bending the arm at the elbow so your forearm is lying across your stomach and your hand is on the floor. Rotate your left shoulder and raise your forearm until it’s perpendicular to the side of your body. Roll over to your other side and repeat. Use dumbbells for added resistance
Front Deltoid Raise
Place your arms in front of your body with your palms facing your thighs. Tighten your abdominal muscles, bend your knees slightly, then position your feet about shoulder-width apart. Raise your arms straight in front of your body until they’re level with your shoulders. Hold the position for 3 to 5 seconds, then lower your arms.
Lateral Deltoid Raise
Unlike the front deltoid raise, the lateral deltoid raise involves activating your muscles as you raise your arms to the side. Start with your arms to the side of your body with your palms facing your thighs. Tighten your abs, bend your knees slightly, and position your feet shoulder-width apart. Raise your arms to the side until they’re level with your shoulders. Hold the position for 3 to 5 seconds, then slowly drop your arms back to your sides.
Single Arm Lat Pulldown
You’ll need an elastic resistance band for this therapeutic exercise. Start with both hands over your head holding an elastic resistance band. Engage your abdominal muscles, bend your knees slightly, and position your feet shoulder-width apart. Pull downward to the side with one arm while holding the other arm in place. Continue pulling downward until the upper arm is level with your torso. Hold the position briefly, then slowly return the arm to its starting position above your head. Keep your arms in front of your face to protect your back and shoulders.
Side Lumbar Bridge
Lie on your side with your legs straight. Support your upper body by keeping your elbow directly beneath your shoulder. Activate your abs and use your torso to lift your hips away from the ground. Hold the position for 10 to 15 seconds while maintaining neutral neck and spine positioning.
Stability Ball Pushups
Lie on a stability ball, positioning the ball under your stomach and placing your hands on the floor in front of you. Roll forward slowly off of the ball until your shins are balancing on the stability ball. Perform push-ups as you normally would, bending at the elbow before returning to your original position.
Single Leg Reverse Curl
Lie on your back. Place both feet flat on the floor, flexing one knee while letting your other leg lie straight, raised slightly off the ground. Extend your arms flat along your body while maintaining neutral alignment in your cervical spine. Lift your flexed knee and leg in an upward diagonal direction over the belly button, then hold briefly. Slowly lower the leg to the starting position and then repeat with the other leg.
Crunches with a Stability Ball
Lie down on a stability ball, placing your lower-mid back on the stability ball. Keep your hands behind your head. Or, fold them across your chest. Tilt your pelvis backwards throughout the exercise. Raise your shoulder blades off the ball, return to the starting position, and repeat.
Stand sideways to the wall. Hold your stability ball over your shoulder at the side of your head. Push the side of your head laterally into the ball.
Stand facing away from the wall, holding your stability ball behind your head. Push the back of your head into the ball.
Face a wall while holding a stability ball at the height of your forehead. Use your neck muscles to push your forehead into the stability ball. Relax and repeat.
Side-to-Side Neck Stretch
This therapeutic exercise can be performed while standing or sitting down. Bring your ear to your shoulder. Let your neck sit in that position for 5 to 7 seconds. Move your ear towards your shoulder until you feel the stretch of your neck muscles on the opposite side.
Front Neck Stretch
Bring your head back and look towards the ceiling. Hold the position. You should feel a stretch in the muscles located on the front part of your neck.
Rotation Neck Stretch
While standing or sitting, rotate your head towards your right or left shoulder. Nod your head down towards your chest. You should feel a stretch on the back of your neck. Hold this position for a few seconds and repeat.
Neck Exercises for Strength
Place your hand on your forehead, then push your forehead against your hand. Repeat 6, 8, or 10 times. To strengthen your neck muscles in the opposite direction, place your hands on the back of your neck, then force your head back while providing resistance with your hands. By performing these exercises 6 or 8 times per day, you can add dramatic strength to your neck over time.
If you experience dizziness, fainting, or loss of balance while performing any of the therapeutic exercises above, then stop the exercise immediately and contact your physician.
The team at Renew Chiropractic will help you decide on the best therapeutic exercises for your unique treatment plan. Therapeutic exercises can put patients on the path towards pain-free movement and better long-term health. Schedule a free consultation today by phone at 720-493-5885.