10 Reasons Why You Should See A Physiotherapist
Whether you’re an elite athlete or a couch potato, you can benefit from seeing a skilled, experienced Physiotherapist. If you’ve sustained an injury at any point in your life, chances are you’ve sought help with your recovery from a Physiotherapist. However, you do not necessarily need to have an injury to get assessed and treated by a Physiotherapist. Physiotherapists can help in a variety of ways to improve your quality of life, physical function and performance, and can help manage existing conditions.
First of all – what is a Physiotherapist and what do they do? Physiotherapists belong to a regulated healthcare profession. They are university trained movement specialists. They help to get you moving and keep you doing the things you enjoy doing. Their advanced knowledge in anatomy, movement and mobility will help to optimize function and quality of life for you. Physiotherapists can have many different specializations and certifications. Do your research to ensure you see someone who has the training and expertise in the area of your specific concerns. There are many benefits from seeing a Physiotherapist; listed below are 10 reasons to visit a Physiotherapist.
1. Improve your posture
Sustained poor posture can lead to pain, muscle imbalances, poor alignment and headaches. Posture is often something we do not pay much attention to while sitting or standing at the office. However, if you spend most of your day working in an office environment, you are also spending time in the same position everyday. Your body is smart and will always take the path of least resistance. Slouching and forward head postures can lead to pain and dysfunction in your neck, mid and low back and pelvis. If poor posture is sustained over a long period of time, your body will adapt to this poor posture and have it become your norm. Physiotherapists can help identify which areas need postural correction, which muscles need stretching and strengthening and provide strategies to alleviate the load of these static positions.
2. Improve your flexibility
If you work in an office or have a sedentary job, you may not necessarily feel that flexibility is important for your job requirements. Most equate the need to be flexible with an active activity. However, sitting in the same position day after day can lead to tight, shortened muscles which can cause pain in your neck and low back. Typing and mousing can cause overuse in your forearms and forward head postures can cause neck pain. A Physiotherapist can evaluate the the musculoskeletal system to see if you have any shortened muscles, and provide specific stretches and exercises you can do at home.
3. Alleviate pain
There are many ways to categorize pain. You have most likely heard of acute pain and chronic pain. Acute pain typically has a sudden onset, can occur following a specific injury or trauma and has a relatively short duration. Chronic pain lasts longer than 6 months and may require the assistance of a healthcare professional. Physiotherapists are able to assess and identify the source of your pain.
4. Address muscle imbalances
Often we are unaware of existing muscle imbalances until the imbalances get to a point where they elicit pain and discomfort. Imbalances develop from sustained poor posture or chronic overuse of the same muscles. Repetitive movements such as mousing/keyboarding can lead to elbow pain (aka “tennis elbow”). Marathon runners perform the same repetitive movements over and over again, which can lead to an irritation in their iliotibial bands. Physiotherapists are able to assess the muscles for any imbalances and provide a plan to improve or optimize function.
5. Prevention of injuries
There are many things you can do to prevent future injury and flare ups of existing conditions. Whether you’re training for a sport, competition or starting a new activity, a Physiotherapist will be able to assess your current mobility, strength and stability. Based on your specific goals, a customized treatment plan will be provided to get you safely to your goals.
6. Improve stabilizer muscle strength
There are larger muscles called prime movers that flex and extend the joints to move your body. These muscles are the ones we tend to strength train at the gym, and we can see them get bigger with weight training. Another group of muscles that are equally important during movement are stabilizer muscles. These stabilizer muscles work to hold you steady during a movement and provide support to joints during the movement generated by the prime movers. Stabilizer muscles are often not visible as they lie close to the joints and under the prime movers. Strength in both these muscles groups are needed to produce efficient, normal movement. Physiotherapists can assess the strength of these stabilizer muscles and provide specific exercises to improve their strength and control.
7. Improve post surgical recovery outcomes
Healing after a surgery can take time. There may be a period of restricted activity which can lead to muscle atrophy, weakness and general deconditioning. Poor pain management can also limit post surgical recovery. A Physiotherapist can help you progress along your rehabilitation in a safe and effective manner.
8. Improve balance & coordination to prevent falls
Balance impairment is commonly associated with an older population. However, anyone who has sustained injury to a lower extremity can also present with a balance impairment. For example, an individual who sustains an ankle sprain starts the rehab process but doesn’t fully follow through with all the strengthening exercises. If they have not completed the proprioception and balance retraining, a balance impairment can lead to future injury. Impaired balance in the elderly population will increase their risk of falling. A Physiotherapist can prescribe specific balance and strengthening exercises to minimize the risk of future falls.
9. Improve frequency of headaches
At some point in your life, you will most likely experience a headache. There are primary headaches and secondary headaches. A primary headache is caused by overactivity of the pain sensitive structures in your head and neck. They are usually not life threatening. Migraines, tension and cluster headaches are all examples of a primary headache. Secondary headaches are caused by an underlying condition like a sinus infection or tumor, which irritates the pain sensitive structures in your head and neck – triggering a headache. These can be be harmful or more dangerous. Physiotherapists can assess your head and neck to try to find the source of your headache. If the source of your headache is from pain sensitive structures, various treatment options can help alleviate your pain.
10. Improve urinary incontinence
Men and women can experience urinary incontinence for a variety of reasons. It has been widely accepted that a little bit of incontinence is normal and nothing can be done about it. The good news is that this is a myth! Pelvic Health Physiotherapists are specifically trained to help determine the cause of your incontinence and develop a treatment plan to help you get back to running, jumping, coughing and sneezing without leakage. You don’t have to just live with it.
As you can see from the list above, you don’t only have to see a Physiotherapist when you injure yourself. There are many reasons to see one – we are happy to help you reach your goals.
Joyce Lang Registered Physiotherapist BScPT, FCAMPT, CAFCI, Gunn IMS certified