Exercise programs

What happens when we start training?

So you’ve seen your Vital Core physio and you need to do a specific exercise program to help get you to your goals.

Vital Core physio assessments will often include a diagnosis of a muscle issue that can be addressed with an exercise program.  There may be a problem with flexibility, endurance, coordination, strength or (more commonly) with a combination of these.

Exercise programs are an essential part of physiotherapy. They has been shown to be better than surgery or drugs for conditions such as tendon issues. These include, patellofemoral (knee) pain, low back pain, and athletic groin pain. Exercise programs are also an essential part of effective cancer treatment, prehabilitation (prehab) and rehabilitation (rehab) from surgery and for general health and wellbeing.

There are different types of exercise programs for different stages of rehab.  Exercises must be progressed regularly to continue to be of benefit to continue to provide a “stimulus” to the muscles that we then adapt to – in other words, we get stronger, faster, more efficient and finally, achieve our goals.

Control, balance and coordination is the essential first step of any program

The first stage of most exercise programs is “Neural Adaptation”.  This is where we learn how to do the movement properly, engage the right muscles at the right times in the right patterns. We see rapid changes in strength due to improved coordination rather than true strength changes in the muscle. The number of repetitions of each exercise are kept relatively low, and with a fairly light weight – often no higher than body weight.  

This happens with most forms of exercise – pilates type exercises, joint rehab sessions, strength classes, even pregnancy and post natal exercise.  Have you seen out exercise timetable?

To build muscle you must challenge it. Weights do this.

The second stage or an exercise program is called “hypertrophy” which is where the muscle actually gets bigger and stronger.  More “motor units” are created in the muscle with increasing loads or weights on the muscle. This makes the muscle more efficient and means that our usual activities and loads are not at as high a proportion of our maximum – everyday life feels easier, getting out the chair or car feels easier, sitting for longer periods or walking or running longer distances is easier.  This sort of training should be done 2-3 times per week, with 8-12 repetitions of each exercise in 2-3 sets each session. It looks more like your normal ‘gym’ program. It will then have different elements depending on your goals.

Strength training is what we are usually wanting to achieve in any exercise program. To do this well, you actually need to lift almost as heavy as you can.  This is going to mean higher loads, for fewer repetitions and we need to make sure that your technique is really good to do this safely.  The loads need to be carefully considered and this will always be very specific to the person.  

Dynamic training is specific to the goal. If it’s returning to sport like basketball, netball or football, the need to jump is essential.

Power training is needed for many sport situations – to jump, change direction quickly, and sprint we need the ability to generate a lot of force very fast. This is called ‘Power’.  Many rehab exercise programs don’t quite go far enough.

You can’t do any power training until you have little to no pain in the joint or muscle that you have been rehabbing.  

This is where the final phase of treatment is so important – returning all the way to the sports and activities you love to do.  Strength is the basis for power training, so after strength gains have been made, those same exercises are gradually done faster, with more jumping incorporated.  If you don’t have good strength, you won’t get the power that you need.

Your Vital Core physio knows how to build your program for you to get you back to the activities you love.  Trust in the process to get you back out there.