Client: “My knee’s been hurting for months”
Me: “Have you tried anything for it yet?”
Client: “Well I saw someone, and they gave me some exercises to do”
Me: “Did you do your exercises?”
I’ve had this conversation countless times, but I can’t judge. I’ve been there and done it countless times myself. Whether it’s trying to rehab yourself from an injury, working on your mobility or just trying to fit in a home exercise routine, sticking to a plan is a difficult thing to do. Here are five foolproof tips to ensure you will persevere with your exercises:
1. Commit – Make a commitment and put it down on paper. Just making a mental agreement with yourself is not enough. The physical act of writing down a goal makes it real and tangible. Even better, make a public commitment to your goals. Tell your friends and family, post it on Facebook, whatever you feel will make you feel most accountable. Those that write down their goals and make a public commitment are more likely to achieve their goals.
2: Personalise – Feel free to personalise the routine to fit around you and your lifestyle. You may find that the exercises are too difficult or there are too many of them. Maybe they take too much time, or you simply haven’t got the required range of motion. Just because exercises have been prescribed to you by a sports therapist or physio doesn’t mean that the routine has to be set in stone. It’s not going to make that much difference if you do 6 reps instead of 10, or 12 instead of 8. If you don’t have the time to do it all at once, it won’t matter much if you spread the exercises out throughout the day.
Remember that doing something is better than nothing and the ultimate key to success is compliance. If the alternative to doing half the routine is doing nothing at all, then clearly the former is the better option. Doing something some of the time is better than doing nothing all the time!
3: Routine – We are creatures of habit so it makes sense to make a habit out of doing the things we need to do to achieve our goals. Having a structured routine makes it more likely that you will stick to your plan. Set aside the time, eliminate distractions and concentrate on just doing the work. It helps if you can plan out in advance when you are going to do your exercises and this can be as simple as “before I jump in the shower in the morning”, “as soon as I get back in from work”, “before I get into bed at night” etc.
4: Track – Seeing your progress is a great motivator. Make yourself a chart to stick on the fridge, or use one of the countless tracking apps for your phone (I prefer paper because you can place it somewhere you will see every day). It’s easy to view each individual effort as insignificant. Tracking your progress allows you to look back over a longer period and see how much work you’ve put in. You can notice how that work is paying off (eg through increased strength/mobility), and that is going to work as a great motivator.
5: Persist – It’s very common for people to allow their whole routine to unravel following one small failure. Don’t let this happen! If you miss a day, then so be it. Revisit your goals, check if there is a way you can alter things to fit around you better, and recommit to a schedule. You can actually make plans for this before you even have that first hiccup. It’s fine to expect to miss a day at some point. Plan accordingly and don’t be taken by surprise when this happens and you’ll be in a much better place to pick up where you left off.