Therapeutic exercises refer to a wide range of physical activities that focuses on restoring and maintaining strength, endurance, flexibility, stability and balance. The goal of therapeutic exercises is to return an injured patient to a fully functioning, pain-free state.
A physical therapist begins by conducting a thorough evaluation of an individual's physical capabilities through both a medical history and physical assessment. The physical therapist then uses his/her knowledge to shape a treatment care plan containing a slowly-progressing exercise program that is appropriate to each individual's needs. The physical therapist monitors progress, assists with some physical movements and continuously modifies the plan as the client recovers.
The first objective of therapeutic exercise is to help the body reduce pain and inflammation. Once this is achieved, the exercise program focuses on regaining range of motion and rebuilding muscle strength and endurance. Exercises that may be included in a therapeutic program include:
- Strengthening exercises usually performed with heavy resistance and fewer repetitions
- Endurance exercises that engage large muscle groups over a longer period
- Flexibility exercises achieved through stretching and movement
- Balance and coordination exercises that focus on maintaining an individual's center of gravity