When it comes to rehabilitation and therapeutic exercise, the focus is often on strengthening specific muscles and improving range of motion. However, there is an equally important aspect that often goes unnoticed: compensations during exercise execution. Knowing if and what these are is essential to ensure effective recovery and reduce the risk of further injury.
What are compensations in therapeutic exercise?
Compensations occur when the body adopts incorrect movement patterns to complete an exercise due to weaknesses, limitations or pain in a certain area. Essentially, the body finds an “easier route” to perform the movement, which can place an excessive load on other structures and muscles.
For example, in a quadriceps strengthening exercise, a patient with weakness in this area may unintentionally compensate by using more of the lower back muscles or hip flexors to complete the movement. This compensation not only decreases the effectiveness of the exercise, but can also lead to secondary injuries and delay rehabilitation progress.
Why is it important to pay attention to compensations?
✅ Exercise effectiveness: Compensation can decrease the load on the muscles we need to strengthen, reducing the effectiveness of therapeutic exercise. By correcting and avoiding compensation, we ensure that the target muscles work optimally and rehabilitation goals are achieved more efficiently.
✅ Prevention of additional injuries: Compensations can cause additional load on structures and muscles that they are not designed to support. In the long term, this can lead to secondary injuries, which aggravates the initial problem and prolongs recovery.
Faster progress: By paying attention to compensations and correcting movement patterns, the patient can experience faster improvement in strength, range of motion and function.
✅ Increased body awareness: Attention to compensations during therapeutic exercises promotes greater body awareness in the patient. This helps to identify areas of weakness and improve movement technique, which in turn contributes to a more successful and lasting recovery.
✅ Personalisation of therapy: Sometimes the presence of compensations indicates that the exercise load or type of exercise is inappropriate for the patient at that stage of rehabilitation. With this information, it is possible to determine how to modify the therapy so that the patient gets the most benefit from it.
How to avoid compensations in therapeutic exercise?
Paying attention to compensations during therapeutic exercise is essential to ensure effective and safe rehabilitation. By addressing a trade-off, we can maximise the benefits of exercise and facilitate a more complete and successful recovery.
✔️ Professional supervision: It is essential to work with a qualified healthcare professional, such as a physiotherapist or occupational therapist, who can properly assess movement patterns and provide individualised guidance.
✔️ Proper instruction: Patients should receive clear and detailed instructions on how to perform each exercise correctly. Ensuring that proper technique is understood is key to avoiding compensation.
✔️ Gradual progression: Advancing the difficulty of exercises in a progressive manner allows the body to adapt and strengthen properly, reducing the need to compensate.
✔️ Self-assessment: Encourage patients to be aware of their own body during exercises and to report any discomfort or difficulties they may experience.
✔️ Technology: Thanks to our innovative ReHub camera detection system based on computer vision, it is possible to give real feedback to the patient about compensations. The ReHub platform visually and audibly corrects the patient, helping them to perform their therapy correctly and reducing possible compensations. Simultaneously, the practitioner receives all the information collected during exercise execution so that the practitioner is aware of when and how the patient is compensating, and can decide whether to continue allowing these compensations, to emphasise their corrections or to change the exercise.
How are compensations measured remotely?
ReHub exercises are designed to take into account the most common compensations that patients are likely to make. Thanks to advanced computer vision-based camera detection technology, the patient is visually guided to the correct movement and receives both visual and auditory feedback when movements are not accurate in real time. Diana, our virtual coach, will guide the patient to correct their technique.
This same technology also brings benefits to the healthcare professionals supervising the therapy. The platform generates detailed reports that record each instance of compensation and other exercise quality parameters during your sessions. These reports allow the therapist to closely monitor progress and make informed decisions on how to adjust therapy for the best results.
At ReHub, we are committed to success at every step of rehabilitation. Our compensation-focused care provides you with the security and confidence the patient needs to achieve an effective and long-lasting recovery.