Life After a Functional Restoration Program

At our functional restoration program, completing the program is a big deal. Not everyone makes it. The program is hard and challenges you physically, mentally and emotionally. Some people stop showing up, some people drop out and some are asked to leave if they don’t show the proper commitment. If you can make it through an entire FRP, you should be very proud of yourself. Here at SPARC, we honor the progress of our patients by having a small graduation ceremony on their last day.

I’ve seen every type of emotion from patients as they leave the program. Most are hopeful for the future and have taken back their confidence. I hear almost every graduation how each patient is amazed at where they are at physically and mentally compared to when they first walked through our doors.  Naturally, most everyone has a little bit of trepidation about the future as they walk back out into the real world.

Every patient I’ve ever talked to has expressed their deepest determination to continue to perform self care through physical exercise, mindfulness and nutrition. But as time passes on it’s all too common for graduates to slip back out of their routines and back into the habits that exacerbated their injury in the first place. Perhaps you can relate.

If this has happened to you what should you do? Here are 5 things anyone can do to improve life after an FRP, especially if you’ve fallen off the wagon.

1.       Don’t self judge.

Self judgement is the cancer of the soul. It will rob you of all affection you have for yourself and make it even harder for you to have good habits. So put away that negative self-talk. Okay, you fell off the horse a bit. So what? Take it as a learning opportunity and as a warning for a road you don’t want to go down again and move on.

2.       Get moving.

At SPARC or other FRPs you moved about 6 hours a day every single day. When you return to normal life it can be hard to maintain that high of an activity level. Whatever is realistic for you, one thing should be very clear: You need to move early and often. Go for walks, swim, take the stairs instead of the elevator. Sitting too much is the demon spawn of pain and illness. So get out of your chair or car and stand, walk and enjoy the two legs that you are blessed with, regardless of if you’re in pain or not.

3.       Exercise

You learned a ton of exercises while you were in the program and chances are your training staff sent you home with activities to do regularly. Dig up that list that might be buried under a pile of papers on your kitchen table and get after it. Do cardio! Lift weights! Mobilize and stabilize! Do core work! Skip the hamburger or other processed foods and have that bodacious salad for lunch! Just get after it!

4.       Put yourself in a healthy environment

We are who we spend time with. If the majority of your social network is not positive, active, cheering you on or otherwise a positive influence, reconsider who you give your energy too. Bad mojo from our peers can rob us of the motivation to take care of ourselves. Expand your social horizons. Join a fitness class like Tai Chi or a walking group. There you can meet people that are also motivated to live healthy lives. This is one of the BIGGEST keys to your future success. No man (or woman) is an island!

5.       Practice mindfulness based activities

We all have an inner person that needs to be nourished. When was the last time you took 5 minutes just to be still, breathe and think about something peaceful? If you are back at work then you are probably readjusting to such a hectic schedule. What’s happening to your inner person? Is it starving for attention? Take time out of the day to practice mindfulness. Even quiet activities like reading a book, enjoying a refreshing breeze outside, listening to your favorite music or journaling your current thoughts and emotions can reduce anxiety and help you feel more in control. When you feel more in control, guess what? You take better care of yourself!


Keep working hard!