If you’ve been injured or are suffering from chronic pain, consider exploring relief through physiotherapy exercises. Physiotherapists work with people of all ages and abilities to rehabilitate after an injury, relieve pain, increase flexibility, and increase strength. While it’s not an instant fix, physiotherapy exercises can help you find relief from a number of different conditions.
What Is Physiotherapy?
Physiotherapy is the process of exercising and stretching specific muscles to restore function and movement, and relieve pain when someone is suffering from an injury, illness, or chronic pain. Physiotherapy exercises combine both static and dynamic movements, combined with education and empowerment to help improve the quality of life.
Why Consider Physiotherapy Exercises
If exercise can help improve the quality of life, why consider physiotherapy exercises? Why not just sign up for an exercise course instead? Why exercise courses and classes can be an excellent part of your recovery, and may be something that you want to undertake once you begin physiotherapy, they aren’t typically designed to rehabilitate. A physiotherapist is trained to help you recover and regain function and mobility. They can help you determine what caused the injury, how to help heal it, and how to avoid doing it again. If you’ve ever been injured in the past, and want to learn how to avoid aggravating the same spot again in the future, a physiotherapist can show you how to modify and adapt exercises to suit your needs. This will help ensure that you can safely undertake any type of exercise class from Pilates to strength training, without worrying about pain or other problems.
Physiotherapists are also trained in the science of exercise. They can not only show you how to stretch and strengthen an injured area, they can also explain why the injury happened and the mechanics behind your recovery. With this kind of motivation and encouragement, you’ll find it easier to complete the rehabilitation program, even if the process seems difficult to painful in the beginning.
What Can Physiotherapy Help With?
Physiotherapy exercises can do a lot for you, no matter what the problem it is you’re suffering from. Depending upon the type of physiotherapist you work with, you may find relief for a wide range of medical conditions that can affect your everyday life, such as:
- Neuromusculoskeletal injuries and pain, including whiplash, sports injuries, arthritis, and back pain
- Neurological conditions, including strokes, Parkinson’s, and Multiple Sclerosis
- Cardiovascular diseases, including recovery from a heart attack, or dealing with chronic heart disease
- Respiratory diseases and conditions, including asthma, Cystic Fibrosis, and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
Physiotherapy also deals with issues that are both chronic and acute. This includes all areas of the body, from frozen shoulders to foot pain. It can also be helpful with conditions that don’t have visible triggers such as migraines.
What to Expect from Physiotherapy Exercises
Physiotherapy is not a quick fix for any problem you may have. In fact, physiotherapy exercises can take weeks to months to begin to work and provide you with the relief or increased function that you’re looking for. Depending upon the nature of the injury or problem, and what your physiotherapist prescribes, the work you may have to do could be difficult, painful, or time consuming. The process is a collaboration between you and the physiotherapist. Together, you’ll work to come up with a plan that will help you meet your goals.
During your initial appointment with the physiotherapist, he or she will spend some time determining the amount of pain or function that you currently have. You may be asked to show range of motion, describe how this condition is impacting your daily life, and what it is you hope to get out of the therapy. Tests may be performed to determine your strength, flexibility, or basic function. Your physiotherapist will also spend some time explaining what the process is, what they expect from you, and they may take the time to help encourage and motivate you to want to work through the process.
The physiotherapy exercises you perform may be combined with other techniques including icing, stretching, ultrasounds, massage, and heat therapy. You will also be expected to keep up with your exercises at home. You will probably be given a set of exercises to complete on your own, along with written instructions and possibly some simple pieces of equipment, such as braces, wraps, or exercise bands. You may also be instructed in the use of foam rollers and other pieces of equipment that you can use both at home and in your appointments.
Examples of Physiotherapy Exercises
The exercises that you are given to do will vary greatly depending upon your particularly condition, and the state of your overall health. It is not uncommon for a physiotherapist to tailor exercises specific to the patient, and then help the patient work toward performing the full range of those exercises.
These examples of physiotherapy exercises are meant only to give you an idea of the kinds of things you may experience during the therapy. They are not meant to be taken as medical advice, or as a substitute for working with a physiotherapist.
Lumbar Extension Stretches
If you suffer from a disc herniation in your back, you may find lumbar extension stretches prescribed by your physiotherapist as a way to help relieve the pain. These stretches may include:
- Lying on your stomach with your elbows bent and palms flat on either side of your head before lifting your shoulders and chest up off of the mat and resting your weight on your forearms.
- Lying on your back with your knees extended and bringing first one knee into the chest, then switching and bringing the other in.
- Getting into the yoga pose Child’s Pose by getting on your knees and extending your arms out in front of you while you rest your forehead on the mat in front of you and extend your tailbone toward your feet.
- Doing the yoga poses known as Cat and Cow by resting on your hands and knees and first dropping your belly toward the floor while you curve your spine downward, then reversing and arching your back to the sky while you pull your belly button in toward your spine.
- Stretching your sciatic nerve by laying on your back with one foot flat on the floor while you pull your other leg in toward your chest by holding it behind your knee.
- Lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, then rolling your knees to one side while your shoulders remain flat on the floor.
Frozen Shoulder Exercises
If you suffer from a true frozen shoulder – a stiff joint with limited motion, but no injury or signs of arthritis – you may be asked to perform exercises such as:
- Lying on your back and extending the arm with the frozen shoulder as far as possible above your head, then taking the hand of your other arm and placing it on the triceps, gently pushing the arm over head to stretch the joint.
- Sitting on a chair next to a table that is just below shoulder height and resting your arm along the table’s edge while you lean forward and extend your other arm toward the floor.
- Lying on your back while you hold a rubber band to your chest with your good arm and hold the other end of the band with your other hand. Keeping your elbow against your chest and extending the forearm away from the body to strengthen the joint.
- Standing up straight and holding the arm with the frozen shoulder across the front of your body as far as it will go while you gently pull on the triceps with the opposite hand to encourage the arm to move.
To help strengthen and stretch the muscles and tendons in the feet, you may be asked to perform any of these exercises, such as:
- Picking up a washcloth or sock with your toes and transferring it from one area to another.
- Picking up marbles or stones with your toes and placing them in a bowl.
- Stretching your toes apart from one another while you have a rubber band stretched around them.
- Standing in front of a wall with your hands flat in front of you as you raise yourself up onto your toes and down again.
- Walking on your toes barefoot for 15 to 20 steps at a time.
- Walking on your heels barefoot for 15 to 20 steps at a time.
If you’ve sprained an ankle and need to regain strength and flexibility, these exercises may be prescribed to help:
- Sitting on a chair while you raise your foot up onto the toes and back to the floor again.
- Gently shifting your weight onto the injured ankle while holding onto a wall or table for support.
- Standing with first the outside and then the inside of your ankle against a door jamb and pressing the joint into the jamb for an isometric strengthening exercise.
- Wrapping an exercise band around the toes of both feet and rotating the injured ankle outwards, stretching the rubber band to work the muscles and strengthen them.
- Stretching the ankles by standing in front of a wall, placing your hands flat on the wall and extending one leg back behind you while keeping the heel flat on the ground.
- Doing a single calf raise by standing on the injured leg and rising up on to your toes, then lowering to the ground.
Hand and Wrist Exercises
These exercises may be prescribed for gaining strength and flexibility through your hands and wrists:
- Placing your forearm on the arm of a chair so your hand and wrist extend off the end and raising and lower your extended hand.
- Flexing your fingers and balling them into a fist repeatedly.
- Extending your fingers straight out and moving your hand from side to side at the wrist.
- Gently pulling back on the fingers of one hand to flex and stretch out your wrist.
Get Relief of Pain with Physiotherapy Exercises
If you’re willing to put in the time and effort, physiotherapy exercises can help you regain movement and function in nearly any part of your body, whether your condition is chronic or acute. Physiotherapy should always be overseen by a trained physiotherapist, so make sure you see your doctor and get a referral before you begin any exercise regimen. With just a little bit of time and effort, you’ll find that you’ll be back in shape, and getting ready to take on a new type of fitness course in no time at all.