Rehabilitation can seem to be a long journey for some people. Doing rehabilitative exercises is extremely important for healing and preventing re-injury. When you first start doing the exercises, many of you might feel slight pain in the injured area and might wonder if this is doing harm or if you should continue.
Today I will discuss the three major indicators of rehabilitation for you to understand your rehabilitation progress.
1. Pain level
Ask yourself: Can I tolerate the pain during the rehabilitative exercises?
The level of pain you can tolerate is very personal. Everyone can tolerate different levels of pain. The pain scale is graded from 0 to 10, with 0 being no pain and 10 being the most painful. During your recovery, you can recognize the pain level you can tolerate, but remember that more pain does not mean better recovery. You should find a pain level that can be tolerated and that is comfortable for you to exercise (usually 5-6/10). If the pain is more than what you can tolerate, you might not be able to complete the exercises. If the pain is tolerable, the rehabilitation exercise can be continued.
2. Set a rest day
It is not uncommon to experience pain during a rehabilitation exercise. In order to know if the exercise can be continued, it is necessary to see the response you have the day after the exercise.
Ask yourself: Does the pain level in my injured area increase, decrease, or stay the same the day after exercise?
Having a rest day is important for the injured tissue to heal. You might set a rest day after the rehabilitation exercise is completed. For example, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday are exercise days, and Tuesday and Thursday can be rest days. If the day after exercise does not exacerbate existing pain levels, the current rehabilitation exercises can be continued.
Something to keep in mind: If you do not exercise regularly, unaccustomed exercises will cause muscle soreness. This muscle soreness is a natural phenomenon, which means that you have successfully trained your muscles and it is not harmful. You can continue to exercise, as long as you know the soreness is not coming from the exacerbation of the current symptoms.
3. Load Management
If the symptom exacerbates on the rest day, does that mean you should stop doing the rehabilitative exercises? Not really. Exacerbation of symptoms on rest days means that you should adjust the exercise load. Load management includes three major categories: intensity, frequency, and volume. Exercise intensity is the weight/ load that you are using, such as dumbbell weights or resistance band tension, etc. Exercise frequency is how often you exercise per week. Exercise volume is the number of repetitions. The indicators that are often adjusted first to manage load are the volume (repetitions), then intensity (weights/ load), and finally frequency.
The above three indicators can be used for your reference when doing rehabilitative exercises and monitoring your progress. It is not uncommon to have a small amount of pain during rehabilitation. As long as you discuss with the therapist, make appropriate adjustments based on where you are at, and follow your treatment plan, you will achieve your goal.