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I know what you’re thinking - I want this surgery, I want to feel better, but I do not have the time to do all these exercises from my surgeon and physical therapist everyday! You live a busy life and whether it be work, family, or other commitments, it feels like you don’t have a second for yourself, nevermind time for the weeks or months of recovery and long list of exercises you were given. So today I am going to tell you about some small changes you can make to your daily routine that will not only help you make time for your daily activities, but also allow you to complete all your rehab exercises!

1. Turn exercise time into self-care time!

While rehab exercises may seem like another chore you are adding onto your list, they can give you the opportunity to take a few minutes for yourself that otherwise you may miss out on! While doing your exercises, you can do something you love that will help you to relax, feel good, and decompress from the stress that we all have in our lives. Self-care has been shown to improve mental health and overall wellbeing, so while doing your exercises, take this opportunity to take care of yourself.[1] Put on a hydrating face mask, listen to your favourite podcast, watch a good tv show in the background, or practice some mindful breathing - just a few examples of the endless list of self-care options that you can do while completing your exercises!

Self-care

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Read another blog post about self-care and the mental side of injury by clicking here!

2. Break your exercises up throughout the day - schedule them in!

Who said that your rehab exercises need to take hours at the end of your day when you’re already exhausted from everything you have done that day? I am here to tell you that breaking your exercises into smaller chunks throughout the day and making a routine is the key to maintaining your rehab schedule and not becoming overwhelmed![2] For example, if your exercises take a total of 30 minutes, it might be much easier to split them up into 3 chunks of 10 minutes each. You can do one right when you wake up, another during your lunch break, and one before you go to bed! Splitting up the exercises makes them less intimidating and will allow you to be more consistent to keep you on the best track to healing.

3. Wake up a bit earlier.

I know it is tempting to hit the snooze button and get those extra precious moments of sleep before your busy day - we all do it! Similarly, it may also feel like there isn’t enough time in the day to get through everything you need to do, and the truth is, sometimes there isn’t! Waking up just 10-15 minutes earlier may give you a few extra moments to complete some exercises before your family wakes up or before you need to get ready for work. While sleep is also a very important part of your health and recovery, as long as you are getting 7 hours of sleep, going to bed and waking up earlier may help you to best match your biological clock.[3] This means that an earlier sleep schedule may help you to improve your sleep quality and also improve your productivity throughout your day.[3] Taking this small amount of time in the morning to kickstart your rehab and take care of yourself can make all the difference in your recovery process - this small change can have a big impact!

4. Ask for help from a friend or family.

Your recovery after surgery will require some patience as your body adjusts and heals after surgery. Asking for help with some of your daily house chores, may free up a bit of time for you to get your exercises done each day! It may be frustrating to be less independent than you are used to, but carving out the time in your day for your rehab program will allow you to heal faster and get back to living your best life as soon as possible.[4]

Family

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5. Make yourself a rehab checklist!

Leaving your physical therapist’s office with a long list of exercises may be completely overwhelming. They likely have given you a list of exercises with diagrams of the exercises you are supposed to do and how many sets and repetitions to do. However, making your own checklist, whether it be an excel sheet with cells for each day and exercise or a notebook you use to keep track of your exercises, having a place to track your exercises is extremely helpful! Checklists are such common parts of everyday life, for complex tasks (e.g. an instruction manual) or simple ones, like a grocery list; they help you stay organized and remember what you have to do.[5] A notebook or electronic file dedicated to your rehab would also be a good place to write any concerns or questions that come up, which you may want to ask your physical therapist at your next appointment.

The Curovate app is also a great resource with information on ACL, knee replacement, or hip replacement recovery. The app features daily rehab reminders, progress tracking, and more, to help keep track of your exercises and allow for the best recovery experience possible. Click on the links below to see the Curovate app in the Apple App Store or Google Play Store!

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References

1. Anxiety Canada. Tool 1: The Importance of Self-Care.

2. Arlinghaus, K. R., & Johnston, C. A. (2018). The Importance of Creating Habits and Routine. American journal of lifestyle medicine, 13(2), 142–144.

3. Healthline. Best Time to Sleep and Wake Up.

4. Roos, E. (2003). Effectiveness and practice variation of rehabilitation after joint replacement. Current Opinion in Rheumatology, 15(2), 160–162.

5. Winters, B. D., Gurses, A. P., Lehmann, H., Sexton, J. B., Rampersad, C. J., & Pronovost, P. J. (2009). Clinical review: checklists - translating evidence into practice. Critical care (London, England), 13(6), 210.