Clients seeking your help in addressing their musculoskeletal imbalances are likely feeling anxious about their situation. This is because they have likely been experiencing ongoing pain and dysfunction for quite some time and had to limit their activities and adjust their lifestyle accordingly. Therefore, when you first introduce corrective exercise to a client in pain, it is important that you are aware of this underlying anxiety surrounding their physical capabilities. Do not make the mistake of overwhelming your client at the initial stages of their program by giving them too much homework or instructing them to make huge changes to their lifestyle. This will only serve to increase their anxiety surrounding their physical condition.
Instead, ask for their feedback about actions/behaviors they can confidently integrate into their day/life to help address their musculoskeletal issues. Once you have helped a client identify a positive action (i.e., getting up out of their chair at work) ask them how many reps/time (i.e., once every hour) they can pledge to that behavior/activity. Do not make the mistake of instructing them how much you think they should commit to that activity. Remember, it is in your client’s best interest for them to identify a level of commitment (and time) that does not make them feel overly anxious or frightened by the changes you are encouraging them to make.
At the initial stages of the program, don’t worry that a client is not doing enough of a particular activity. As your client repeats the desired behavior regularly, their self-confidence will increase and their comfort zone will expand accordingly. This continued repetition of desired activities will eventually produce results and the client will naturally want to invest more time in those behaviors that are helping them reach their goals. More importantly, your client will not drop-out of their program in the meantime, and as their confidence increases, so too will their long-term adherence and opportunity to be successful in reaching their pain-free movement goals.