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Everything You Need to Know About Exercise Therapy

exercise therapy

As of 2016, a staggering 50 million US adults suffered from some form of chronic pain, that’s about 20.4% of all US adults at the time. Chronic pain isn’t life-threatening, but it can make life very unpleasant and uncomfortable. Medication aside, one treatment option that has proven beneficial in mitigating chronic pain is exercise therapy.

Exercise therapy is a treatment regimen that employs specific sets of body movements to improve the body’s functions. Everyone understands the benefits of being physically active for general wellbeing. Exercise therapy is especially beneficial for people recovering from injuries or chronic diseases

At the center of this exercise therapy is the exercise therapist. Exercise therapists are experts who condition your body through regular body movements. Exercise therapy only focuses on physical experience and rarely delves into the psychological aspects of recovery.

In this post, we’ll be discussing everything you need to know about exercise therapy and how you can benefit from it. Without further ado, let’s jump straight into it.

What Is Exercise Therapy?

As mentioned earlier, exercise therapy is a tried and tested treatment that assists in the recovery of both common and complex injuries and certain conditions. At its core is specific stylized movements meant to improve specific parts of the musculoskeletal system. The whole exercise is based on principles of exercise science and neuroplasticity.

When you injure yourself or damage a neural pathway, function to that specific part decreases. Fortunately, the brain can recreate neural pathways to make up for the loss and restore function.  The brain does so through repetitive body movements that target that specific area.

The main goal of exercise therapy is to stimulate the brain to begin the development of novel neural pathways. This means that this therapy must be repetitive, intensive, and consistent to be effective. It also assists patients to build on their strength and stamina in the course of the treatment.

In some places, exercise therapy can also be known as restorative therapy or activity-based therapy. Only a licensed exercise therapist can conduct proper exercise therapy as part of your physiotherapy. One exercise therapy session can take between thirty to sixty minutes, depending on your condition.

You shouldn’t confuse exercise therapy with physical therapy even though they are somewhat related. Physical therapy focuses more on restoring movement to a particular area of the body, usually after an injury like an accident or gym injury. Exercise therapy, on the other hand, aims at restoring function and movement of a particular part, but only by creating neuro pathways.

That means that exercise therapy is treatment on a neurological level, while physical therapy is on a musculoskeletal level. To better your understanding, let’s look at how exercise therapy works.

How Does It Work?

Chronic conditions come with age or are sometimes because of bad lifestyle choices. Other times we get body injuries because of accidents or vigorous sports or other reasons. Regardless of the case, specific body movements help alleviate these chronic conditions or body injuries. 

Research points to particular exercise programs as effective in stimulating the brain to address such injuries and chronic conditions. Think of it as rewiring the brain to facilitate normal bodily functions of specific parts of the body.

A comprehensive exercise therapy program aims to

  • Improve physical fitness
  • Accelerate recovery 
  • Promote optimum physical abilities
  • Promote general wellbeing

Exercise therapy works with other treatment methods and supplementation to achieve its intended purpose. An exercise therapist tailors a particular program to address the needs of individual patients.

What Does and Exercise Therapist Do?

An exercise therapist is more than a personal trainer but isn’t also a physiotherapist. The American Society of Exercise Physiologists is the oversight body of all exercise therapists in the country. Some roles of exercise therapists include.


An exercise therapist will come up with a comprehensive training program based on the health status and body demands of the individual. There’s no one-size-fits-all training regimen that applies across the board. The therapist must exhaustively diagnose the patients after performing a couple of tests to determine the best training program.

Before any physical training, the therapist may also train the patient on the use of protective equipment. He/she may also guide the patient on the correct use of injury prevention items like braces, tape, and the likes.


One very vital aspect of exercise therapy is the rehabilitation of the patient. Rehabilitation in the physical sense and not the drug dependency one we are so accustomed to. Rehabilitation sessions are common with athletes who require extensive therapy to recover from injuries.

The therapist should diagnose and establish the severity and location of the client’s injury. What follows is a systematic process to help the patients regain the full range of motion and function of the injured part. This is what we refer to as rehabilitation.

Sports Nutrition

The phrase “you are what you eat” takes a very profound meaning when it comes to sports. A good exercise therapist understands biomechanical systems and their relation to movement and recovery. Together with nutritionists, they can create personalized meal plans for patients to accelerate their recovery and better their health.

First Aid

Exercise therapists may, in some instances, provide first-aid and emergency aid for some patients. This means that the therapist doesn’t need to enter a long-term therapist-patient relationship with the patient. They can be called upon to provide first aid advice or perform administrative tasks that center on caring for an injured patient.

At times the therapist may maintain medical records and write reports that explain the injury, treatment, and recovery process of the patient. These records and reports can later supplement other treatment methods.

An exercise therapist begins the therapy sessions by first evaluating a patient’s medical history. That way, the therapist can determine the best-suited training and fitness programs for the patient. Follow up tests may come after the medical history evaluation to better understand the patient.

What Does a Typical Exercise Therapy Session Look Like?

An ordinary ET session takes no more than an hour but takes at least thirty minutes. You should have about two to three appointments every week. Here’s what you should expect with and ordinary exercise therapy session.

Checking in

Before you begin your therapy session, you first have to check-in. You’ll have made appointments with your exercise therapist at a time you deem most convenient. You’ll exchange the usual pleasantries with the receptionists (we assume), then you’ll see the therapist.

Straight to the Gym

Without many dalliances, the therapists will show you straight to the gym. You’ll change into your gym clothes before you two can get to work. 

The therapist will put you on a hot or cold pack before some gentle electrical stimulation. Doing so helps promote blood flow and also strengthens the muscles.

Stretches and Exercises

Next, you’ll perform a few stretches to get your body in “exercise” mode. These stretches are nothing out of the ordinary and are very simple. Some therapists may throw in some band exercises into the mix to better your range of motion and alleviate pain.

Gentle Massage

In case you still have areas that are a bit tight or painful, then the therapist will gently massage them. The massage will take a couple of minutes, and you shouldn’t be painful.

Progress Report

After the massage, you can shower and change into your normal clothes as the therapist prepare your progress report. This report details your progress throughout the treatment. It also gives you recommendations on how to accelerate your recovery.

Your muscles might feel a bit sore during your first two weeks of exercise therapy, but it’s perfectly normal. Remember, the therapy is like overworking or stretching part of your body that isn’t accustomed to such activity. However, it’s the only way you can attain optimum physical fitness.

Also, the exercise therapists might ask you a few questions to determine the severity of your injury and cause of the pain. They might also inquire about any underlying conditions that may affect the treatment. Remember to answer as accurately as you can so the therapist can tailor the best treatment plan for you.

Does Exercise Therapy Include HEP?

HEP abbreviates home exercise therapy, and yes, it is a crucial part of exercise therapy. A typical HEP session only takes between 10 and 15 minutes. The therapist will lay down what your HEP sessions will entail, and when you should perform them.

HEP involves a few stretches and exercises that you’ll do at home to supplement your program. It’s essential for rapid recovery and optimum physical wellbeing.

Exercise Therapy Is Good for You

Exercise therapy is just what the doctor ordered for treating chronic conditions and injuries. This therapy works in concert with other treatment options to speed up recovery. Apart from general health, exercise therapy is also beneficial for your mental wellbeing too.

With the right supplements, exercise therapy can do wonders for your body. To buy supplements for your therapy and workouts, contact us today, and we’ll sort you out.

Exercise, Mental Health, Therapy

These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. All information presented here is not meant as a substitute for or alternative to information from health care practitioners. Please consult your health care professional about potential interactions or other possible complications before using any product.

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