Reconditioning Following Physical Therapy

Reconditioning following physical therapy at a glance

  • Reconditioning is a strength and fitness program that bridges the gap between traditional physical therapy and a patient’s safe return to full sporting, work and normal activities.
  • Reconditioning is a group program with individualized, sport- and activity-specific elements.
  • A physical therapist and a strength coach supervise the reconditioning program.
  • A typical reconditioning progression can last anywhere from 2 weeks to 5 months, depending on the requirements of returning to full activity.

What is a reconditioning program?

A reconditioning program safely gets patients back in the game, back to work and back to normal activities following an injury, surgery or debilitating illness. Reconditioning fills a void that used to exist in rehabilitation and gives patients confidence they have met all the criteria required to return to activity.

Reconditioning involves a specific progression of conditioning following normal physical therapy in order to make sure a patient is completely ready to re-engage in more advanced activities, such as the physical stress of athletics. There are five primary methods of reconditioning.

  • Strength: These exercises primarily focus on weight training.
  • Plyometric: Performing activities that include jumping and landing properly.
  • Agility: Improving the ability to move quickly and change direction with ease.
  • Speed: Exercises that improve speed while also focusing on technique.
  • Metabolic capacity: Improving endurance.

Reconditioning activities require an individual to have full range of motion, basic strength and motor control, and no pain or swelling, all of which are accomplished through traditional physical therapy. Reconditioning is not limited to athletes and is a program appropriate for any individual who would benefit from progressive strength training and conditioning in order to return to a hobby or job.

A reconditioning program group may include a variety of patients who have different goals regarding the activities they want to return to with confidence. For example, a group can include a 14-year-old soccer player following ACL surgery, a 50-year-old golfer who is 16 weeks out of a rotator cuff repair, a 20-year-old who has been deconditioned following a bout of bronchitis, and a 40-year-old firefighter who has a history of chronic ankle sprains.

Muir Orthopaedic Specialists (MOS) offers reconditioning at its Redwood Building facilities in Walnut Creek, designed specifically for group training, sports medicine and physical therapy. Reconditioning patients typically train twice a week for one hour. A typical reconditioning progression can last anywhere from 2 weeks to 5 months, depending on the requirements of returning to full activity.

Benefits of a reconditioning program

MOS patients participating in the reconditioning program work out in a group setting, with a maximum of two people per physical therapist and/or strength coach in order to provide adequate attention to each individual. The group setting serves to motivate individuals to focus on their reconditioning goals. Each person in the group has his or her own individualized strengthening program.

Reconditioning progressions are 100 percent objective and measurable, providing clarity to exactly where the patient is functionally and where he or she needs to be to reintegrate into the chosen activity. Reconditioning brings strength & conditioning into the doctor’s office, rather than leaving it up to patients to do this necessary preparation on their own without immediate supervision. This gives confidence that they are performing safe and appropriate exercises designed to help them meet their goals.