7 Recommended Physical Therapy Equipment for Home Use

Do you wish you had access to the same high-quality physical therapy at home? With this 7 at-home PT equipment, you'll see the same benefits – and results!

Using Physical Therapy at Home
As you walk out of the clinic after your last physical therapy session, you may feel a mix of emotions: joy at reaching your rehabilitation goals, but apprehension about continuing that progress on your own. After all, the majority of your physical therapy success is determined by what you do at home, and remaining on the sofa will negate your progress.

If you're looking for home workout equipment, there are tons of options available, from exercise videos to stationary bikes. It's also possible to create a PT clinic without having to invest a lot of money in huge gym equipment. All you'll need are these seven physical therapy devices.

7 Recommended Physical Therapy Equipment for Home Use
Unlike treadmills and cardio machines, PT equipment is simple to use, easy to store, and inexpensive. Most importantly, these exercises will help you achieve your fitness goals, whether that means continuing rehab post-injury, avoiding surgery altogether, or simply building muscle strength and stability.

1. Set of Resistance bands

Outside of the physical therapy facility, resistance bands are one of the most underutilized pieces of exercise equipment. However, inside the clinic, you'll notice that we PTs utilize them for almost everything. Resistance bands are useful for everyone. You can use a resistance band to complete any sort of activity, from challenging an existing stretch to completing a full workout.

Even a little resistance band set may provide a wide range of resistance, ranging from a few pounds to 100 pounds. Some bands have handles that may be inserted into a doorway to alter the angle or range of motion. With resistance bands, you can direct your workout to target specific muscles like the rotator cuff more efficiently.

2. Stretch strap

A stretch strap can help you achieve your goals in place of a physical therapist. It may improve and deepen your stretch by challenging your flexibility. Most straps come with multiple loops or knots to help you achieve the perfect pose. These stretch straps are not very expensive but increase flexibility and reduce muscle tension effectively.

A stretch strap may assist you to get the most out of your stretches, no matter how flexible you are. These stretch straps are used by athletes and yogis to simulate partner-assisted stretching. The stretch strap will help support your body, even if you don't have much flexibility. You can loop it around your hands and toes, or any other part of your body.

If you're wondering what to do with stretch straps, don't worry; many versions, like this one, come with clear instructions.

3. Foam roller

The foam roller is one of the most popular types of physical therapy equipment, and it's easy to see why. It's simple but effective at relaxing tight muscles. Though foam rollers only come in a limited amount of density and sizes, they have many different uses. If you have a kink in your back, lie down on a foam roller to relieve the tension. It's as if you have an upside-down massage therapist, rolling it under and around your knots to release the tension in your back. If your pecs are tight, using a foam roller can help by raising your spine off the ground and dropping your shoulders back towards the floor.

If you don't have a foam roller at home, get one now! A lot of the stretches and exercises on this blog use a foam roller, and we utilize them frequently in our clinic.

4. Adjustable weights (hand or ankle)

  • What it’s good for: resistance exercise
  • Specs: weights range from 1-10lbs
  • Price: ranges from $25-65
  • Product spotlights:

Nice C Women's Weights, Adjustable Dumbbells, Hand Weights Neoprene 10-in-1
Ankle Weights - Choice of 1lb, 2lb, 3lb, 4lb, and 5lb Ankle Weight Sets

After you're done with PT, you might want to do some related exercises at home. Adjustable ankle weights or hand weights provide “incremental resistance,” allowing you to increase the intensity of your workouts and continue building strength.

If you're trying to improve your fitness, put on ankle weights – even a single pound of extra resistance can make a big difference. Did you know that improving your leg muscles can also help improve your balance? One way to achieve this is by using ankle weights. Hand weights are especially useful when you're recovering from a torn rotator cuff and need to gradually increase your strength. Adjustable dumbbells have the benefit of being more versatile, so you'll get more use out of them.

5. Balance pad

  • What it’s good for: balance exercises
  • Specs: sizes range from square to beam, 10” – 64”
  • Price: ranges from $20-$80
  • Product Spotlight: AIREX Balance Pad

A lack of balance at any age can cause problems. I work with a wide range of patients to help them enhance their balance. I use strength training, dynamic stability, and the helpful device called a balance pad to do so. Whether it's standing on one leg or performing full squats, a balance pad makes every exercise more difficult. Balance pads help improve your sense of balance by challenging you to engage more muscles. As you move on the pad, it responds to your movement, making it harder to stay in one place. This can help improve overall muscle strength and coordination.

Setting up balance training in an unsteady area of your home is asking for injury, so be sure to set it up where you can grab something quickly to steady yourself. For most individuals, a standard square pad is more than sufficient. You may also utilize a long beam pad for activities like lunges or toe-to-heel walking.

6. Overhead pulley

The shoulder, a ball-and-socket joint, is more likely to experience an injury such as tendonitis, a frozen shoulder, or a torn rotator cuff. Performing the overhead pulley stretch is a requirement before you leave the PT clinic if you come in with a shoulder injury. An overhead pulley system is made out of rope, a metal pulley, and a strap that latches onto the top of a closed door. You'd sit down and use the pulley to improve your range of motion and overhead shoulder strength with your back to the door. The overhead pulley is excellent PT home equipment that you can get for as little as $12. It will help you strengthen your shoulder in all directions and replicate the results we see in the clinic.

7. Yoga ball (fitness or stability ball)

  • What it’s good for: exercise, stability, yoga
  • Specs: sizes range 45-85cm in diameter
  • Price: ranges from $20-50
  • Product Spotlight: Trideer Exercise Ball (45-85cm)

A yoga ball is a thick, inflated rubber ball that usually comes in different weights and sizes depending on the practice. It is strong enough to support your weight and sometimes has sand inside for stability or extra resistance. A yoga ball is a versatile piece of equipment that you can use for a variety of activities, not just yoga. A simple Google search turns up dozens of free fitness ball exercise routines. In general, a fitness ball is measured by height; one that is too tall or too little will be less efficient. If you're concerned the ball might roll away, look for one that comes with a stability ring.

A yoga ball can help you add dynamic stability to crunches, pushups, planks, and other exercises if there is enough room. The yoga ball isn't just for working out; you can also use it as a chair. A fitness ball will give you a run for your money whether you're seeking to build your core, enhance your balance, or improve your stability.

Special PT Equipment for Home Use

To take your home PT clinic to the next level, consider adding these pieces of equipment:

Massage gun

I've written about a few different types of massage guns on this blog because we PTs utilize massage guns frequently in both the clinic and at home.

Just like getting a professional massage, a massage gun can help you relax and work out the tension. You can also use it to aid muscle recovery or even to warm up without pain.

Many massage guns come with different heads that can be interchanged and have adjustable speed settings. The price varies greatly among manufacturers, but the standard C2 from Bob and Brad costs around $140 – a great deal for a weapon of this caliber.

Ice packs or hot packs

  • What it’s good for: pain, recovery
  • Specs: sizes range from 6-21 inches, with straps or not, heat or cold
  • Price: ranges from $10-30
  • Product Spotlights: Chattanooga and Magic Gel

Therapy isn't only about physical activity. Other therapy methods, such as heat or ice treatment, make an important contribution to your healing. A heating pad may be used to warm up your muscles before a workout or soothe stiffness the next day. An ice pack, on the other hand, will help you feel better when you have aches and pains or need to recover from a challenging exercise. Some packs are multi-purpose, retaining warmth as well as cold. If you're looking to ice a particular injury, such as plantar fasciitis or a torn rotator cuff, find a brace that comes with an ice pack, or has space for one. There are wearable heat pads that strap on like a belt or drape over like a shawl. Remember to limit ice treatment to 20 minutes at a time and use a delicate towel to protect your skin from the cold ice pack.

TENS unit

The electrical stimulation treatment you received during rehabilitation might not be available to you once you leave the clinic, but good news--you would be wrong. With numerous TENS units available on the market, both in-store and online, you can select one tailored to your individual needs.

E-stim therapy, given from a TENS unit, typically helps to ease the pain--particularly for those with recent injuries. TENS is also used by athletes to recover from a strenuous workout, but e-stim may be utilized to prevent muscular atrophy while on bed rest.

Physical Therapy Home Clinic: Final Thoughts

There's one more item missing after you've gathered all of these things and customized your home gym to your physical therapy needs: intentionality. If you go to see a physical therapist regularly, they will help ensure that you are doing your exercises correctly and keeping up with your workout routine. When you're at home, it's completely up to you.

I've offered several resources on this blog to assist you in continuing your PT progress at home. I'm confident that you'll succeed as long as you stick to your routine, persevere, and check in with your doctor when necessary.