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Raising the Bar in Rehab

Household Items

Published June 14, 2012 10:47 AM by Lisa Mueller

A friend of mine recently developed some low-back pain, so I sent him a page full of exercises and gave some suggestions for sitting and sleeping posture. We talked a few weeks later and my friend mentioned that the most comfortable position he found to relieve his back pain was lying on the floor (supine) with a towel folded under his back. As we chatted we realized how amazing it is that such a simple item, a basic shower towel, could make such an impact on his symptoms. Which, of course, got me to thinking -- what other basic household items can be used as therapy tools? Here's what I've come up with so far:

● Dog leash or rolled-up towel: Place over first rib for self-mobilization or wrap around foot for a dorsiflexion stretch

● Pillow: Balance pad

● Folded washcloth or towel

- SI joint PA self-mobilization while lying on towel on floor

- Toe crunches for foot strengthening

● Broom handle: Stretch shoulder joint

● Tennis or golf ball: Trigger-point release

● Clothespins: Fine manipulation skills

● Stair: Use for a midfoot stretch or for heel-raise exercises (or use a phone book as a step if your house doesn't have stairs)

● Kitchen tongs: Reacher

● Bed sheet: Leg lifter

● Belt: Gait belt

● Wooden spoon: Psoas muscle release

I guess those are the ones I use most frequently with my patients, but I'm sure there are hundreds more. Occasionally patients will come to their appointments with stories of how they have adjusted something at home to create custom exercise routines -- very inspiring! It's amazing how such simple things can make such an impact on a patient's recovery. Leave a comment below and tell me what home items you have incorporated into your patient's care, and how well they worked.


What you have discovered is how many home care PTs practice. The ability to use common items is a necessity in home care and very valuable for people with limited incomes as well.

Good observations.


Dean Metz June 17, 2012 6:42 AM

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