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8 Ways to Stick to Your Physical Therapy 'Homework'

Physical therapy is an important step in overcoming many injuries, especially after surgery. No matter the reason for your visit, your therapist will create a personalized plan to help you overcome your injury or pain.

The work you do with your physical therapist can only take you so far – it’s not like you can see them every day! – so your plan will often include a number of at-home exercises that you must do each day. This “homework” will help you continue to progress in-between your sessions, so it's very important for patients to commit themselves to the treatment plan.

We know most patients fully intend to carry out their homework, but then life gets in their way. Whatever the reason is, it’s very important to prioritize your health and your recovery to ensure the best results. This means following through with your at-home exercises.

Are you finding it hard to stick to your plan? Well, we’re here to help. Continue reading to discover 8 tips to help you stick to your plan.


1. Identify Your Goals (Big and Small).

Just like in life, it's important to set goals for your therapy – settings goals gives you a long-term vision and short-term motivation. Your goal can be something specific, like getting back to your sport, or something more general, like being able to play with your grandkids or just getting “back to normal”. What’s important is that you also have small, attainable goals that help you achieve this bigger goal. Having a clear and compelling purpose for your therapy can help you stay motivated for the long haul.

Pro Tip: Set a small goal each week, like climbing a few more stairs or getting a few more reps in, to help you feel accomplished throughout your recovery.


2. Make Your PT Exercises A Priority.

When it comes to your body and exercise, consistency is key in seeing improvements. While physical therapy may seem low on your hierarchy of needs, it’s a vital component in helping you become the best version of yourself. Prioritize your daily exercises and you’ll notice improvements each day.


3. Get In a Routine.

Time is the #1 reason our patients say they haven’t been doing their homework. However, most exercises take less than 10 minutes to complete each day, so it’s more often a matter of not finding time than not having time. If you’re having problems fitting your exercises in each day, look through your calendar and identify spots when you can complete your exercises. Once you get in the groove of doing your exercises each day at the same time, you’ll find it easier to remember to do them.

Pro Tip: You can do your exercises while you’re watching television or while sitting at your desk working – just remember to keep good form.


4. Be Honest.

Just like when your dentist knows you haven’t been flossing, your physical therapist knows when you’re not doing your homework. There’s no reason to lie to them about it – they won’t judge you! If you’re honest with your therapist (and yourself), they can help you figure out what’s holding you back from completing your at-home exercises and modify your treatment plan so that you can get moving again.


5. Find a Partner.

Routines are always easier when you get someone else involved. Finding a friend or family member to practices your exercises with you can help you stay focused and consistent with your at-home exercises. Plus, it makes it harder to “forget” about doing your daily exercises!


6. Adapt Your Exercises.

Every little bit counts, especially when it comes to exercising. Ask your therapist which of your exercises can be modified so that you can do them while on the go. This can mean doing heel raises while in line at the grocery store, practicing your balancing while waiting on the microwave, or stretching your shoulders while reading your emails at work. You will find that little bouts of exercise will add up in the end, so find ways to incorporate your exercises throughout the day.


7. Get The Right Equipment.

Our physical therapy clinic may be home to fancy machines and equipment that really help you progress, but that doesn’t mean you need to outfit a new home gym to complete your at-home exercises. From resistance bands to stretching tools, there are often several cheap alternatives to help make your exercises more effective.


8. Track Your Progress.

It can be hard to remember all that we have achieved unless it’s right in front of us. Logging details about your home exercises not only helps you stay consistent, but also helps you keep tabs on your progress. With this in hand, you can see how far you have come!

home exercise program
Download PDF • 191KB

Download our free printable home exercise program sheet to start tracking today!


Motivating yourself to do your physical therapy exercises may seem hard at first, but it becomes easier when you have a goal and a plan. Whether you’re recovering from an injury or trying to improve your well-being, our team is here to help you succeed! Give our team a call at 703.433.2500 to schedule your first appointment with our award-winning team, or request an appointment online. To stay up-to-date on the latest news and tips from us, be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram, and sign up for our monthly newsletter!



Arthritis & Sports is the premier orthopaedics practice in Northern Virginia. Our team of specialty-trained physicians offers the latest treatment options for the full spectrum of orthopaedic sub-specialties - all under one roof.


From nonsurgical treatments like orthobiologics and physical therapy, to massage therapy and  nutrition counseling, we are dedicated to providing you with exceptional care from injury through rehabilitation.

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