Physical Therapy at Home: Seven Tips to Keep You Motivated

Progress toward pain relief takes time but it’s not always easy to keep up with a daily routine. Here are seven tips to help you stay motivated as you work toward chronic pain relief.

4 min read
A man stretches back deeply onto a pillow.

If you’ve been living with chronic pain, then you already know the impact it can have on pretty much every aspect of your day-to-day life. Simple things like picking up around the house can trigger flare-ups, relegating you to weekends on the couch, vulnerable to unwelcome side effects like anxiety and depression that make it feel downright impossible to keep up with your physical therapy routine.

We get it. We really do.

If you are having a hard time staying motivated and sticking to your physical therapy program, know that you are not alone. Results take time. Some days will be harder than others, frustration sometimes wins, and that’s okay. But before you throw in the towel, read on for seven tips that will help you stay on track toward pain relief, and help you achieve your goals.

Set clear, realistic goals and plan for setbacks

Long-term goals are why you started physical therapy in the first place, but remember that the path to chronic pain relief is a marathon, not a sprint. Progress takes time, and setbacks happen so don’t let them discourage or demotivate you.

Setting clear, realistic, and measurable goals will help you stay inspired with your at-home physical therapy exercises and encourage you to stay focused on how far you’ve come, instead of how far you have to go. Try setting short-term goals like 10-minutes of at-home exercise sessions three times a week, and gradually increase the duration and intensity of your exercises. Every time you complete a session, you can pat yourself on the back for a job well done. And if you’re having an off day, that’s OKAY. Breathe, reset, and come back fresh tomorrow.

Make an appointment with yourself to complete physical therapy exercises

Work, family, and other obligations can make it tough to squeeze in time to exercise. That’s why it’s important to block out a specific time on your schedule, just like you would with any other important appointment. Whether it’s in the morning before work, during a lunch break, or in the evening before bed, committing to this appointment with yourself will keep you accountable and on track toward achieving your short and long-term goals.

Set rewards and incentives

Did you follow through with your planned exercise days? Great job! Do something to reward yourself like enjoying a warm bath, watching a movie, or reading a funny book (with good sitting posture 👀). Missed an exercise session? Don’t be too hard on yourself. Just pick up where you left off and start again. You got this.

Monitor your progress

Tracking your progress is essential for maintaining motivation throughout your home physical-therapy program. It can help you identify wins and celebrate your achievements, stay accountable to yourself, and even adjust your strategies to reach your goals more effectively. Whether through a dedicated journal, or specialized app like the one offered by Kaia Health, documenting your milestones and setbacks will help you set long-term goals, break up those goals into manageable milestones, and stay inspired with at-home physical therapy exercises.

Tie your exercise to a daily habit

Incorporating new habits into your daily routine can be tricky, as it often requires overcoming ingrained behaviors and resisting the comfort of familiar routines. Simply integrating your new exercise routine with a daily habit like brushing your teeth or preparing for bed, can help you stay consistent and reduce the likelihood of forgetting (it happens to the best of us). Once you establish the habit, it will start to feel like a natural part of your day-to-day routine. You may even start to look forward to it.

Find your “why”

What inspired you to begin at-home physical therapy in the first place? Maybe you’re working toward getting back into an old exercise routine, enjoying your favorite recreational activities, playing with your kids or grandkids again, or regaining your independence around the house. No matter what it is, discovering your “why” will help you maintain motivation and stay committed to your exercise therapy routine.

Create a safe and comfortable space

Create a safe and comfortable space where you can focus on your at-home exercise therapy routine without tripping over yesterday’s laundry or getting distracted by the sink full of dishes. Clear the space of clutter and minimize distractions by letting your family know that this is your sacred time, they will understand. Personalize the space by hanging a motivational poster or welcoming a new plant – anything that takes your mind off the stresses of daily life, and helps you push yourself just a little bit harder. Creating a space that is uniquely yours will help you stay motivated, focused, and on track to reaching your goals.

Learn more about how Kaia Health’s team of certified health coaches can help keep you motivated here.

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