Physical Therapy Equipment to Try at Home

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Whether you’re setting up a home gym or just looking to rehab a specific injury, it helps to take a peek inside a physical therapist’s office to see what kind of equipment the pros are using. Depending on a physical therapist’s specialty, you might see a lot of overlap with your local gym. There might be treadmills, stationary bikes, exercise balls, dumbbells, weight machines — all the usual stuff. At-home physical therapy equipment doesn’t have to be expensive, though. Simple resistance bands and tubing, for example, are among the most common training devices you’ll find.

Budget Friendly At-Home Physical Therapy Equipment

  • Physical therapists pioneered the use of bands and tubing as inexpensive, portable strength training devices. Patients could use them in the PT’s office and then take them home to continue rehab at their own convenience. Available in a wide variety of resistance levels, and customized with handles and anchoring devices for wall attachment when necessary, resistance tubing is versatile, lightweight, and as effective as a set of dumbbells.
  • Perhaps more specific to physical therapy than to your average gym, pulley systems are used for range of motion and joint mobility. Shoulder pulleys are promoted by physical therapists as a way to let patients self-administer passive range of motion exercises, which are great for post-surgery rehab. A knee pulley can work in a similar way, with the added benefit of offering pain-relieving joint distraction.
  • Exercise balls can be a foundational piece of at-home physical therapy equipment, offering an endless array of balancing, core strengthening, and even cardio exercises. Also known as stability balls, balance balls, or Swiss balls, these can be deceptively comfortable to sit on. Once you start investigating the array of possible exercises, though, you’ll quickly come to realize how much they can hurt you — in a deliciously satisfying way, of course.
  • If you’re concerned about balance, a balance board (or rocker board) can be used for fall prevention training as well as improving posture and coordination. Physical therapists also use them for ankle rehab (strengthening and range of motion) as well as knees and hips.
  • Slide boards or sliding exercise pads are versatile devices that can be used for calisthenic exercises as well as strengthening exercises and exercises that increase range of motion. Depending on how you use them, they can work the abs and core, glutes and lower body, and even arms and upper body.
  • For post-workout recovery, consider a foam roller. This is basically a self-massage tool for your soft tissues. Use it on your major muscle groups to decrease post-exercise soreness, decrease neuromuscular exhaustion, and improve range of motion.

With just a few simple pieces of at-home physical therapy equipment, you can achieve the same levels of fitness as you’ll get at your local gym, but at a fraction of the cost.