These are common questions I get as a physical therapist all the time. “I have insert body part pain what exercise should I do to fix it?” or “I am a runner/cyclist/tennis player/dancer/body builder or insert other activity what is the best exercise for me to do?” or “My friend/trainer/fitness magazine/therapist told me insert exercise is the best exercise and everyone should do it.”
Well the answer is always the same…It depends…Exercise can be a lot like taking a multiple choice test in school. You may not know the right answer but think long and hard before you answer A. never or E. always. Those are strong responses. I think there are truly very few “bad” exercises that you should never do and very few “good” exercises that will benefit everyone all the time. I think the truth lies in the middle, there are lots of exercises that help lots of people a lot of the time, but if applied incorrectly or at the wrong time they may not helpful or at worst harmful.
In fitness this means knowing what your goals are. Are you trying to lose weight? Run a marathon? Stay in shape for ski season? Look buff? Are you starting healthy? Do you have pain with some activity? What are your past issues you don’t want to wake up? Once you know your goals, then you need to know what you need to meet them. A fitness evaluation by a qualified trainer or health professional can let you know where you stand and what you need to do.
In rehabilitation this means looking at the problem and determining where you are and what is safe. Sometimes the best exercise is rest. Sometimes very gentle movements are safe. Sometimes we can focus on vigorous activity, but away from the damaged area. When things are ready you can push into the area that was a problem. All of this requires thorough evaluation by a trained health professional, with regular assessment to update your program as your injury progresses.
So the next time you wonder what exercises to do ask yourself what are my goals? what exercises can get me there? If you are not sure ask for some help.