It’s a question we get asked time and time again, and one which is unlikely to ever disappear completely. With physiotherapy services so intrinsically linked with the NHS and hospital services, it can seem as though what we do is only really applicable for those in pain and facing injury. However, while this is a large part of our job, it is by no means the only benefit of physiotherapy.
Picture, for a moment, your favourite sports team – for example football. All of them, particularly the big teams, have their own physiotherapy consultants and experts. Yes, they are there to help team members through injury, but they are also there to ensure that injury remains at a minimum; and this is achieved through both education and basic programs which strengthen particular areas of the body and safeguard the body against potential aches and pains.
In essence, one of their biggest jobs is to ensure that the emergency treatments they are trained to provide aren’t in fact needed at all.
And that is the mark of a great sports team physiotherapist – someone whose methods are so effective that an individual is able to avoid injury thanks to the education, advice, and tailored exercise program that they have received.
Physiotherapy in the real world
Back to the everyday, and our starting question – is physiotherapy only for when I am injured?
One of our biggest goals as a Physiotherapy unit is to educate and advise our clients about how they can avoid potential injury – whether it be at work, through sporting activities, or simply as they go about their daily lives. The simple truth is that we don’t want to see our clients injured or in pain – we want to help them stay active and healthy.
Yes, if you have an injury then you are likely to be prescribed a series of physiotherapy consultations which will help you to devise a tailored programme of exercises to regain your movement and strength. But that doesn’t mean you can’t learn from physiotherapy practice in order to avoid injury in the first place.
The top pieces of advice we provide to clients, injured or otherwise, include:
- Stretch before and after intense exercise or sporting activity
- If you spend most of your workday sitting down, commit to standing and moving around at least once an hour
- Make sure your employer provides you with a full DSE assessment to ensure your workspace is fit for purpose
- If you must lift something heavy, bend your knees and keep your back as straight as possible – don’t put all the weight on your back
- If you have an ache or a niggle, seek support quickly – before it becomes more complex and debilitating
Find out more about physiotherapy as a practice here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/physiotherapy/