Physical Therapy Tucson: 5 Key Components of an Exercise Program

Written for Bodycentral Physical Therapy

As an outpatient physical therapist specializing in orthopedic conditions and sports injuries, it’s very common that patients don’t follow a sequential and comprehensive exercise program.  You know what I’m talking about in Physical therapy Tucson. You go to the gym and start lifting weights right away or you go to the gym and run on the treadmill, take a shower, and then you go to work.  Or you participate in a yoga stretching class on a Friday night and then you’re off to happy hour.  Our office number is 520-325-4002 or visit

The body is an amazing yet complicated structure but with a comprehensive exercise program in Physical Therapy Tucson, you can untap your hidden potential.  As I work with patients and prepare them for discharge to their independent exercise program, I teach them the 5 key components of an exercise program to not only prevent injury but also to help them optimize their health and fitness.


The first component of an exercise program is cardio exercise.  Your cardiovascular system includes your heart, lungs, arteries, veins, and capillaries.  As the heart starts beating faster, the blood vessels dilate from the increased temperature, more blood and oxygen are sent to the muscles and less to the organs.  The muscles then become more elastic and less susceptible to injury. The choice is yours, whether it is swimming, walking, running, spinning, elliptical, ARC trainer, or a rowing machine and should be performed for at least 15-20 minutes.

Soft Tissue Prep

Now that your muscles are more elastic from your cardio, it is optimal to roll out or deform your soft tissue using a foam roller. A foam roller massages your muscles and tendons to prevent knots and trigger points from building up.  It also promotes a more efficient exchange of nutrients and waste in your muscle cells allowing you to recover from your workout.  It should be performed for 10-15 minutes to allow for promote an optimal environment for muscle flexibility.


So, you’re warmed-up and you just rolled out.  Now it’s time stretch your muscles or muscle groups.  Improving your flexibility by stretching allows for more efficient movement and prevents muscle and joint stiffness.  Recent studies have shown that stretching decreases the incidence of low back pain and can improve artery function and lower blood pressure.  I know most people don’t like to stretch, but for 10-15 minutes it can significantly improve your body movement.

CORE Stabilization

Your CORE is a complex series of muscles that extends far beyond your abdominals including everything but your arms and legs. Every movement you do will require the use of your CORE muscles.  A strong CORE enhances good posture, improves balance and stability, prevents falls and injuries, and is the basis for all your everyday activities.  Now that your body is warmed-up, the muscles are rolled out and stretched out; your CORE is now optimized to fire these muscles. There are a ton of effective CORE exercises but the most important part is to incorporate them before you do your general strengthening and an effective series should take about 15 minutes.


You’ve done the cardio, rolled, stretched, and fired up your CORE muscles. Now it’s time for your weight training.  Performing weight training for strengthening helps raise your metabolism since muscle burns more calories than fat, improves bone density, improves muscle endurance, and helps to prevent injuries.  Strengthening can be as simple as using a leg press or curling dumbbells or can be more complex movements depending on your training needs.

Following this sequence, which can be completed in less than one hour, will enable you to build a healthy body. So step back and review your exercise routine and make a change to untap your hidden potential. Robert Strachan PT, DPT is a 3x Ironman finisher and a 2014 Ironman All World Athlete. Call 520-325-4002 or visit www.Bodycentral for more information.