11 best physical therapy exercises to improve your physical fitness

Physical therapy exercises are one of the most effective ways to recover from an injury, illness or improve physical health. However, not everyone has the time and resources necessary to go in for an entire session every day.

Luckily, there are many exercises that you can do on your own at home or anywhere else. In this post, we will discuss 11 of these exercises, how to do them correctly, and how they can improve your health and fitness.

Without further ado, let’s get started!

Best physical therapy exercises

The following exercises are great for improving your physical fitness.

1. Standing forward lunge

The standing forward lunge is an excellent exercise for strengthening your legs, burning calories, and improving balance. To do this exercise

  • Stand up straight with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Next, take a step forward and slowly lower yourself until both of your knees are bent at 90 degrees (similar to how you would address someone).
  • Ensure that your front knee is directly over the leg’s ankle on the ground; this makes it easier for you to balance.
  • Also, your front shin is perpendicular to the floor, and your back knee should be slightly off the floor.
  • For full effect (and safety), make sure you look up at all times; this helps keep proper posture throughout the exercise.

Repeat 15-20 times on each side for optimal health benefits!

2. Heel slides on a wall

The heel slide is an excellent exercise for anyone who spends lots of time sitting down. This could be because you have a desk job or because you are recovering from an injury.

To do this exercise:

  • Lay down with your back to the ground and your legs against a wall.
  • Your head should be facing the wall as well.
  • Slowly slide your heel up and down, making sure to keep it in contact with the wall.
  • When each heel comes down, use the other to push it up again.
  • Repeat this process for as long as you can.

3. Clamshells

The clamshell is a great exercise for strengthening your gluteus medius. This muscle sits on the outside of your hip and is responsible for controlling the movement of your leg.

To do this exercise:

  • Lay on your side with one knee bent to 90 degrees and your feet stacked on top of one another. Make sure that your knees are pointing towards the ceiling.
  • Next, slowly open up your knee without moving anything else; this should cause your leg to go out to the side slightly (similar motion as a clam opening). Repeat

4. Straight leg raise

The straight leg raise is an excellent exercise for strengthening your quads and improving flexibility. To do this exercise:

  • Lay on your back with your arms at your side.
  • With one leg straight, lift the other to about 45 degrees (the higher you go, the harder it is).
  • Slowly lower your leg, and then repeat.

5. Plank on hands with leg lifts

The plank is an excellent exercise for strengthening your core and improving flexibility throughout your body.

To do this exercise:

  • Lay on the ground with your elbows directly under your shoulders and feet together.
  • Next, lift yourself onto your forearms (like a push-up) and hold this position.
  • Lift one foot straight back off the floor. Lower the foot back down, switch to the other foot and repeat.

6. Single leg bridge

The single-leg bridge is an excellent exercise for strengthening your glutes and improving flexibility. To do this exercise:

  • Lay on the ground with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Make sure that your knees are pointing towards the ceiling, with some distance between them, so you have room to lift your hips.
  • Next, lift one foot off the floor and slowly raise your hips until they are in line with your knees; make sure only to raise the hips.
  • Lower back down to start position, and then repeat with your other foot.

When you are finished performing all of these exercises, make sure to stretch all the muscles you worked on.

7. Standing squat

Standing up straight, slowly lower yourself into a squat without letting your knees bend past 90 degrees. To increase difficulty, you can hold weights or place your hands behind your head. Repeat.

8. Knee to chest stretch

To do this exercise:

  • Start by lying on the floor or your bed with one leg straight and one knee bent towards you in a half-moon shape.
  • Next, bring that knee into your chest while using your hand to support it by holding it behind the knee. Then pull the knee towards your chest.
  • Ensure you’re exhaling at the same time the knee comes up to the chest area.

Hold this position for 15-30 seconds and slowly release the back to the floor. Then move on to the other leg.

9. Sleeper stretch

To do this exercise:

  • Lie on your side and keep your right or left arm on the floor.
  • Use your other arm to hold your wrist and push it towards the floor.
  • Don’t go all the way down.
  • Push it back up and continue the process. You can place a towel under the arm on the floor to prevent pain or discomfort.

10. Lawnmower

To do this exercise:

  • Slouch forward as if you are about to run.
  • Reach forward and pull a resistance band (already fastened to something) or a dumbbell.
  • Ensure you stretch your elbows as you pull.

11. Prone press-ups

To do this exercise:

  • Start by lying on the floor, face down.
  • Slowly push up your toes and hands with arms extended straight out in front of you (like a push-up).
  • Ensure your back is straight and you’re not sagging at the hips.

Why do I need physical therapy exercises? 

If you’re struggling to move your body, feel pain in your joints, suffer from a physical injury, you probably need physical therapy exercises. 

You also need a physical therapist if you have a physical disability or need to maintain or boost your physical activity. Your doctor may also recommend physical therapy, depending on your peculiar condition.

You, however, don’t only need these exercises when something is wrong. Physical therapy can help you prevent physical complications in the first place.

Some other reasons why you might need a physical therapist:

  • Recuperate after a stroke or injury
  • Manage illnesses like heart disease, arthritis, and diabetes
  • Getting used to using artificial limbs
  • Prevent physical deformity
  • Weight loss

Conclusion

By exercising regularly and doing physical therapy exercises, you can improve your physical well-being. You can do these exercises at home or anywhere else. Ensure that you follow the procedures to a tee and try to be as consistent as possible.

We always recommend consulting a doctor or a physical therapist before doing any exercise or physical therapy exercises. Please do, and follow their recommendations.