One of the things that I talk about in the clinic alot is the therapeutic dosage of exercise. So, what do I mean by that? The term “therapeutic dose” is from the pharmocology world. When a medication is administered if too little medicine will have no effect. If too much is medicine is used, then it becomes poison. The same is true of exercise if we do too little you will not change anything. If you exercise too much it can lead to soreness and possible over-use injuries. Also, if you overdo it by too much, you wont be able to exercise again soon. I see this all the time in both the rehab as well as the fitness arenas. People will try to do too much then they are incapacitated by soreness.
The other thing to think about is that there is a minimum effect dose. In other words, there is a bare minimum that you have to do in order to meet your goals. I think that we should aim for the minimum effect dose of exercise. The key then becomes continuing doing that amount of exercise for a longer time. For instance, a recent study demonstrated that walking can reduce low back pain as much as specific strengthening. The goal of the subjects in this study was to be pain-free and walking was the minimum dose. If your goal is more advanced then your minimum dosage is going to be more intensive.
The goal of physical therapy should be to find the necessary exercises and activities for you to achieve your goals. Any more exercise or treatment is unneeded at best and possibly detrimental. If the extra exercise makes you less likely to adhere in the future or burns you out then it is not a good exercise program. These principles have to be the guiding motivation for exercise prescription.
At Siskiyou Physical Therapy we do our best to prescribe exercise program that are realistic, effective and the right intensity for patients.