While there’s a huge amount to learn about the human body and as a physiotherapist we are always learning something new, many soft tissue aches and pains can be boiled down to something relatively simple: Is it weak? Let’s strengthen it. Is it tight? Let’s stretch it. Physios are problem solvers, so this is where we get to dive in and try to work out with you which of the issues (or both) it might be and decide what treatment might be best for you at that time.
What is physiotherapy?
- Physiotherapy looks at illnesses or injuries with physical treatments such as manual therapy, massage, and exercise in addition to plenty of advice and education to help you better understand what may be happening. Physiotherapy takes a holistic approach, i.e. treating a whole person, taking into account not only the issue at hand but also your background, lifestyle and a range of other external factors, which is really useful when trying to diagnose and what sort of treatment/management plan may suit you best. Some people are referred to a physiotherapist by their GP, although with services changing all the time you can also self-refer to a physiotherapist.
All of us, at any age, would likely benefit from stretching and strengthening. Physiotherapy isn’t designed only for those running around football pitches or hitting the gym.
Do you garden? Walk? Have you moved and felt a twinge? Is your job desk based and you feel a little hunched at times? Maybe you spend your days on your feet and feel your calves and lower back aching a little?
The main aim of physiotherapy is to help you enjoy your life and achieve what you want physically, as much as possible. Whether that’s being able to drive for your job without feeling your legs tighten and cramp, walking without niggles reminding you why you don’t walk as far as you used to, or getting back to your previous level of fitness after having some time off for injury or life 🙂
No matter what your age, clients come for treatment and advice when they have decided they don’t want to accept pain or reduced function any more.
Physiotherapy isn’t just about exercise, reps and sets (don’t worry about the terminology!) It’s about you, and what you would like to improve be that pain, flexibility or wanting to be strong enough that it takes less physical effort to do what you want to do.
I love that the more I learn about physiotherapy, the more I realise I have to learn. What I also like is for those that don’t want to follow a set program of sitting in a clinic room completing the usual “3 sets of 10 reps” or don’t need complicated rehabilitation videos and theory – physiotherapy is for you too 🙂
This site is going to be the place to come to for ideas of what may help from a physical perspective, whether you’d prefer to sit on your chair at home and do a few simple exercises, are looking to push yourself a little with something requiring a little more effort at home or outside, or want to push your boundaries and see what you can achieve.
As with pretty much any topic, if you search online for signs, symptoms or the name of an injury/issue you feel you might have, you’ll likely get pages and pages of conflicting advice, suggestions and recommendations. My aim is to try and make this all as simple as possible, because not everyone has the time or inclination to read research papers and compare different advice and techniques, especially when it’s not your area of expertise.
I’ve tried and researched various products myself, have seen equipment clients and colleagues have found useful (or not as the case may be at times) so I can provide some useful information and tips to help you decide what you think may suit you or how may be best to use them.
In the meantime, below is a (not exhaustive) list of just some of the issues that physiotherapy can help with.
These pages are by no means a replacement for you seeking professional help and advice. I hope it may be a good starting off point and may give you some ideas and strategies that could be useful while waiting to speak with someone. I truly hope you enjoy reading this and as long as folk do, new information will keep on being added.
Why do people need physiotherapy?
– They are in pain
Physiotherapy is a team effort. Together, you’ll work with them to find what’s causing the neuromuscular and/or musculoskeletal pain, and will create a rehabilitation program to improve and hopefully relieve it. It always amazes me (and my clients) how accustomed to niggles, aches and pains we get in our daily lives until it’s improved. Then it becomes hard to believe that we’d somehow just learned to accept it and compensate by adjusting how we move or stopping certain activities.
For those suffering with chronic pain it can be life-changing. The NHS defines chronic pain as: “Persistent pain that carries on for longer than 12 weeks despite medication or treatment”. Most people get back to normal activity after pain following an injury or operation, though sometimes the pain carries on for longer or can start without any obvious cause.
– They have an injury.
Injuries can happen to just about anybody – physiotherapy can ensure that an injury heals properly and reduce the chance of any long-term problems. You don’t need to be a professional athlete, or have a serious life-changing injury to benefit from physiotherapy.
Injuries can cause weakness in a specific area or part of the body, causing increased fatigue and stiffness in muscles and joints, altered movements as someone has learned to compensate (such as using the other side of their body more) and/or reduced proprioception of that part of the body. Proprioception is just a posh word for knowing where the bits of your body are without looking at them. When we are injured or if we sustain an illness or other issue, this may affect us by decreasing our sense of balance, have less coordinated movements, knocking our body into things we wouldn’t normally or catching our toes more frequently on flat ground when walking.
– They have mobility or balance issues
This could be due to a lack of physical activity, age, sensory and coordination issues, or a period of illness. Physiotherapy can help with these problems through flexibility and balance exercises that you can practise 2–3 times a week or more, at home. They may incorporate normal, everyday movements standing on an uneven or slightly unstable surface with support nearby, over practising activities you find difficult by breaking them down into smaller tasks, or strengthening the muscles around your hips, knees, ankles and core muscles to give you more stability when standing. Generally, a person in their 50s should be able to balance on one leg for around 40 seconds. Someone in their 60s is looking at 20 seconds, and someone in their 70s is around 10 seconds. Test how long you can manage on each side. Typically we’d hope there isn’t a significant difference between the two sides, and if there is – you may well be able to improve this.
– They have an illness
Many illnesses may need intervention from a physiotherapist, even ones you may not expect, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, COPD cystic fibrosis, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and more. While physiotherapy is not expected to cure any of these diseases, it can help clients to manage their symptoms better, feel stronger and less breathless, improve energy levels and their overall quality of life.
Common physiotherapy techniques
To go alongside the wide range of issues and situations that physiotherapy can help with, is a wide range of possible techniques depending on the issue, the therapist’s training and what you might prefer when given options.
Some of these techniques may include:
- Movement & exercise
- Manual therapy & massage
- Education and advice to facilitate recovery
- Therapeutic ultrasound
- Kinesio taping
- Cold and heat therapy
These techniques may be passive (where they are done to you) or active (where they are done with you). It’s pretty much guaranteed that with any physiotherapy you’ll have homework, so you can take active control of managing and/or improving your condition or issue. Why? Because that short session someone has with a physio is a good starting point to get things moving again, but it’s what you do between the sessions that will allow longer term improvements and for musculoskeletal issues, and will reduce the likelihood of those returning again and again in the future.
How can I get help from a physiotherapist?
You can go through your GP for a referral to a physiotherapist, or you can approach a physiotherapist or a clinic directly. You may find that there is a long waiting list for accessing physiotherapy through the NHS (if in the UK), so many people chose to self-refer to a private physiotherapist. Some employers may offer physiotherapy through their occupational health services – check with your employer to find out.
If you want to approach a physiotherapist directly, ensure they are a member of a professional body such as the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) or the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP). I am registered with both of these professional bodies – they hold all physiotherapists to account. If you feel you would benefit from physiotherapy, please get in touch!
Get in touch
You can make an appointment with Lisa at InLine Therapies by emailing email@example.com, calling 07942 368009, or filling in the contact form here.