When Should You See a Physiotherapist?
Seeking the advice of an experienced physiotherapist is something that many athletes consider in their training efforts. For starters, physiotherapists play a major role in the care and performance of athletes, but how exactly can a physiotherapist support the general population?
From an athletic standpoint, the use of a physiotherapist may appear pretty obvious, but for the general adult population, is there any benefit in seeing a physiotherapist and why would you even need to see one?
Let’s take a closer look into what a physiotherapist can offer you.
What Services does a Physiotherapist provide?
In order to have a good grasp on when to see a physiotherapist, it is important to have an idea as to what services a physio can offer.
Your experience with a physio varies depending on where you go, but overall, a physiotherapist provides rehabilitation, education and support, performance training, as well as assisting with stress relief in many aspects of your life. Many physios have different certifications so it is important to search around for a physiotherapist who may best be able to assist with your problem.
The best bet is to make a selection on a physio that is well qualified and experienced and has a wide range of technical skills and advanced equipment .
Listed below are 10 reasons why you should see a physiotherapist along with what they can do to help for that specific scenario.
Prevention of Injuries.
Athletes are well in-tune with their physiotherapist, but for the common adult, a physio may be foreign. For starters here, physios specialise in injury prevention, which is the process of adjusting posture, form and movement patterns to help reduce your risk of experiencing an injury or re-injury.
Usually, adults seek the advice of a physio for rehabilitation from an injury that may have occurred after attempting the gym, trying a new fitness routine, or due to some occupational issue that arises (such as lower back pain or repetitive injuries). A physio can guide you in your rehabilitation, help you regain your strength and understand what things you can change to minimise the chances of injuring yourself again. Prevention is always preferable to cure, so getting some advice from a physio before you start at the gym or join bootcamp is a great idea. Remember, a physio understands both your exercise goals and how to get you there safely.
When you visit a physio for injury prevention, you will be thoroughly evaluated. First there will be some questions to evaluate your previous history, current situation and future goals. Then the physio will do a physical assessment to get a better understanding of how you move, and identify any weaknesses that may need addressing. Once you have a diagnosis, the physio can lay out a direct path to help you succeed in your goals and prevent injuries.
If you are prone to injuries, it may be wise to seek out a physio to reduce the risk of injury as soon as possible. This can save you a lot of pain, money and time off work.
Work on Posture.
There are many reasons as to why you could have nagging injuries popping up here or there, but your posture is perhaps one of the most critical components to avoiding nagging pains.
Your posture may not be something you pay close attention to throughout your work day but if pain or injuries to your back, neck, and legs start to appear, then your posture may be one factor.
One of the most common reasons for frequent headaches in office workers is poor posture caused by improper ergonomics. With that in mind, a physio can help you to develop better awareness of your position, advice on your work set up and improve the function of your postural muscles so that you can avoid those nagging postural pains.
Generally, a physio will develop specific exercises to strengthen the postural muscles and will guide you throughout your healing process.
Alleviate Generalised Pain.
Perhaps you do not have a specific injury causing pain. Widespread, generalised pain can be linked with conditions such as Fibromyalgia, Hypermobility and many systemic rheumatological diseases. But there is much a physio can do to help your pain.
Physios utilise ‘healing hands’ (hands-on techniques) to alleviate pain by stimulating certain nerve pathways to be less sensitive. They can also provide education on ways to cope with fatigue, how to best pace your physical activity and everyday chores and how to gradually increase your ability to do the things you need to do and most importantly, the things you love to do. A graduated exercise program can also help to reduce pain and develop more fitness, strength and stamina. A physiotherapist can make a very positive impact on your quality of life.
While physio’s serve as pain relieving healers, it is important to understand that your pain levels do not need to be excruciating. Lower level pains such as frequent nagging pains and dull headaches are a very common reason to see a physio. Don’t let these nagging problems drag on for months or years, when there is something you can do about it today – see a physio.
Stretching & Flexibility.
If you sit at a desk all day for work, you may think that stretching is not important since you were not active, but long periods of sitting can cause tightness in your lower back and hamstring muscle groups. Getting up and moving regularly and doing some regular simple stretches can make a big difference to work related aches and pains. Breaking your sitting with activity is also important for your general health.
If you spend a great amount of time typing on a computer then you should consider stretching your forearm and wrist extensor muscles throughout each day. Do you have neck aches? Consider a stretching program to loosen the muscles that move your head.
A physio is an expert in muscular health and wellness and they can create a detailed mobility/stretching routine. This can be provided via a free app with videos, reps, time and you can even set reminders to ensure you don’t forget to move your body regularly. Consider this a highly beneficial commodity in your health and wellness.
For some people however, stretching will not help a feeling of tightness or stiffness. This may be a symptom of hypermobility (too much flexibility, sometimes called being ‘double-jointed’). If you do not have enough muscle support deep around flexible joints, the brain may signal big, superficial movement muscles to help out, working way more than they would normally. In this case, stretching will not help and may worsen the problem. A physio with expertise in this area can help ensure you are given the exercises that are right for you.
Heal from a Complicated Surgical Procedure.
One of the lesser known services a physio provides is healing from complicated surgeries. After surgery, you may be unable to be active or to exercise for quite some time. This may result in a lot of muscle weakness and a loss of physical fitness, making it much harder to return to your normal activities.
A physio can help you to progress through a post-surgical rehab program, helping you to regain your muscle strength and fitness safely and effectively.
Management of your Disease.
There are many scenarios in which you could be diagnosed with a disease and your only option provided by your doctor is to manage the disease with medication.
Type II diabetes, heart disease and osteoarthritis are all conditions in which adults are to manage their condition rather than “fix” the disease.
A physiotherapist can take you through a suitable and appropriate exercise program to help you to manage your disease, based on your diagnosis and the findings of a detailed assessment.
This is quite valuable because sometimes the management process with a physio is so beneficial that some clients can cut back on medications prescribed by doctors.
If you are in a disease management process, you should always consult with your doctor about involving a qualified physio in your management plan.
Manage a Physical Limitation.
There are many conditions that people are born with that cause limitations. Sometimes, limitations are created as you age, through car accidents, injuries, as well as new onset of debilitating diseases.
Physiotherapists are highly skilled to work with these conditions so that you can better manage your limitation.
Physios can help to train certain muscle groups and improve your mobility to make your daily life easier to manage, but they are also skilled at assisting with devices, braces, and various health-related accessories you may need for your condition.
Recover from Hip or Knee Replacements.
If there is any reason to ever see a physiotherapist, then perhaps this is the best reason.
Physios work on a regular basis with clients who have been through a hip or knee replacement surgery. There are 2 important things that a physio can do in these situations.
Some physios offer pre-habilitation methods, which is exercising for a month or two before your surgery to help you recover from your surgery quicker.
In addition, post-rehabilitation is essential for getting your joints working close to how they were before the surgery, but without the pain.
You should definitely see a physiotherapist if you have a hip or knee surgery scheduled or are considering it.
Receive Real-time Feedback on Movement and Muscular Usage.
These services can help anyone from an older adult with back pain to athletes returning to sport or who want to help improve performance in some way or another.
Some physiotherapists use certain sensor technology devices, such as the ViMove device, to monitor your movement patterns and muscular activity. Real-time ultrasound is also an incredible tool that allows the physio to see the muscles beneath your skin, to ensure they are healthy and able to activate in ways that best support and move your body.
With this feedback, your physio is able to identify certain “weaker” spots throughout your body to aid your recovery or improve your recovery or athletic performance.
This is valuable for any young athlete looking to elevate their performance and for any adult looking to simply improve upon weak areas in the body.
Post-Partum Exercise Conditioning.
Having a baby is a stressful situation for the body and the female body is subjected to many bodily changes during the months of pregnancy.
For this reason, seeing a physio can help to strengthen areas that may have been stretched or weakened during pregnancy and they can help guide you on a plan to safely increase your activity level and help lose that extra baby weight as well. A Women’s Health physio can also help specifically with pelvic floor or bladder and bowel problems that may occur after childbirth.
Seeing a physiotherapist is a safer option than a personal trainer, due to a physio’s understanding of the effects of pregnancy on the muscles, ligaments and joints and what is appropriate in the early months after having a baby. Many new mums develop problems when returning to high levels of activity too quickly or performing inappropriate exercise routines. Medical issues can also arise weeks or months after having a baby, so being under the care of a physiotherapist, who are Allied Health Professionals, is a good choice.
After taking a look at some of the services a physio can provide across many different aspects of health, you should have a good idea as to why it is important to your overall wellness to see a physio.
Yes, a physio is an expert in healing injuries, but there is much more that a physio can offer.
Consider any or all of the reasons above to help guide you in your decision on when you should see a physiotherapist.