Therapeutic exercise is an essential element of the rehabilitation program for anyone with problems regarding their overall fitness, ranging from a person who cannot do a single push-up at home to someone in office who cannot function or do their assigned job because of an injury. Therapeutic exercises' purpose is to improve a person's quality of life by mainly addressing physical limitations.
Physical therapist are the ones licensed to prescribe set of exercises to improve a person's physical condition, but I, on a personal note does not think that only Physical therapists are capable of doing so. Physical therapist are taught in the academe to often use these 3 golden principles in making and prescribing exercise. Knowing these things can help you prescribe your exercise on your own without blindly following the set of exercises given to you by your therapist or on just what you have found out on the Internet.
Here are the 3 Golden Principles:
1. The Specificity Principle -
In simple words.. "what you train is what you gain". Exercise should stress the specific physiologic system being trained. For example, if an athlete, let's say a basketball player lacks the ability to perform high jumps, you will not certainly make him run the whole day and expect that his jumps will be much higher than yesterday. You make him practice jumping to improve jumping. It's just common sense but some are just complicated thinkers they forget this simple fact.
2. The Overload Principle -
In simple words.. "to gain more, do more". If you can only lift a 10 lbs. dumbell at your gym and that's the maximum weight you can lift and your goal is to beat your gym mate who can lift a 100 lbs. dumbell, you must certainly progress to a much more higher weight gradually if you want to beat that guy. There is what we call the plateau stage in which the current weight you are lifting is not giving you a sweat anymore. Anytime that you feel that something you do is not giving you a hard time anymore that's the sign that you should step up to a much greater load or else it will lead to the 3rd principle.
3. The Reversibility Principle -
"Use it or you will lose it" in simple words. Let's say you are the greatest boxer in the history of boxing, and you suddenly stop training thinking you're ok since you are the greatest, let me tell you something, a day will come where you will lose to an amateur because all of the trainings and exercises we do are not permanently engraved in our system. If we stop doing it, we will lose what we gain and we will shrink from where we started.
For the final touch, let's combine the three principles. For example, my goal is to lose weight from 180 lbs. to 160 lbs. in 2 and 1/2 mos. Using the specificity principle to lose weight I need to do some running exercise and diet because it has been proven in centuries that it can certainly lose weight. Next, using the overload principle, I will start running 5x a week for 15 minutes a day then progressed to 30 minutes next week, then another + 10 mins. another week, or whatever timeframe I think will stress my limits will do. Then using the reversibility principle I just need to never give up even though I do not see results fairly quick and just applying the overload principle because applying overload principle means also applying the reversibility principle.
The principles are easy and just common sense, but some experts forget the basics. Remember, these are the principles experts need and use to prescribe someone an exercise and YOU can do the same too.