Get the most from your exercises
If you've been given exercises to help improve a current problem here's how to get the most out of them. These tips also apply to any kind of exercise.
1. "Quality quantity"
Notice that I didn't say "quality rather than quantity". It's very important to get the required volume done so that the body has the correct stimulus to adapt.
Think of smoothness of movement. Are you controlling the arm or leg smoothly on the way down? Are you "throwing" the leg up instead of moving under good control? Is the alignment as it should be? Are you moving as far as needed? Often people stop slightly short of the full range they may need. Are you relaxing areas which don't need to tense? Are you breathing correctly? Be conscious of your exercise and you will get more from it.
At first there may be a lot to think about so don't think about it all at once. With quality practise things will improve.
Why not even video yourself to check your technique? You may be surprised to see that what you think you're doing is not quite what you're actually doing. Or you may find that on one side you do the exercise differently to the other.
2. Progress exercises and be aware of "FITT".
Therapeutic exercises need progressing as soon as safe otherwise you won't progress either. Progressing exercises is somewhat of an art and science and so is ideally discussed with a physio. It is useful however, to be aware of how exercises can be progressed and for that there is a helpful acronym: 'FITT' - which stands for frequency, intensity, time (duration) and type.
That is to say, how often do you do the exercises? How intensively? How long do you do them for each time? And which exercises, or which version of the exercises are you doing?
It is best to never progress more than one of these at a time if you are anywhere near your limit already.
3. Understand why you are doing each exercise. In what way will it help? Knowing this helps to motivate.
4. Understand how each exercise fits in with the big picture. This can help motivate you towards the next exercise in the progression and means you're less likely to get discouraged if you don't see the final target result right away.
5. Apply what the exercise teaches! For example, there is not much point doing daily core exercises if you never recruit those core muscles when you need them. The same goes for posture and muscle balance exercises.
6. Make time for them, rather than squeeze them in. Making time for exercises means you are treating them as important. If you only ever squeeze them into a spare minute you probably are not focusing on them as well as you could be. There is always a way to make time if, and only if, you make them important enough to you. Making time for exercises also demonstrates and strengthens your commitment to helping yourself.