Physiotherapists have a unique skill set. They assess dysfunction, diagnose and treat pain and injury with a variety of hands-on skills and manual techniques. There are many of these techniques in a physiotherapist’s toolbox including joint mobilisations, manipulation, massage, needling, taping, orthotic prescription and many more. But, they also promote exercise to help keep you moving. This may range from simple exercises day 1 after surgery or severe back pain, to exercises for rehabilitation to exercises for elite performance. This combination of skills is what differentiates physiotherapists from other allied health practitioners.
Firstly, WHY IS EXERCISE IMPORTANT?
Exercise is the best, cheapest, and most accessible medicine available. Everyone has it at their disposal. The majority of chronic diseases and their subsequent mortality come from the fact that Australians are not moving enough - in fact, less than half of us actually hit the recommended exercise guidelines.
If you have pain, exercise is critical for rehabilitation. The primary reason for pain comes down to a mismatch between the capacity of a structure (like muscle, tendon, ligaments or bone) and the load that is placed on it. If the load is too much, or happens too quickly, the structure fails and injuries happen.
Therefore, at the core of this philosophy, is the requirement to treat the underlying cause of the injury. If we can’t treat the underlying cause of the problem – it is likely to be a lasting and chronic condition.
Exercise is a crucial component of lifelong optimal health. The benefits of exercise are far reaching and often not appreciated. Everyone knows that exercise is excellent for weight loss, and to be stronger – but what else?
So…WHAT IS EXERCISE GOOD FOR?
The Answer – lots! There is a wealth of evidence for exercise and its benefits.
- Musculoskeletal Pain – the days of ‘resting’ an injury are over – and this advice is often wrong and can cause more issues if recommended for the wrong things.
- Bone strength – We have peak bone strength in our 20’s – and then it reduces. Weight-bearing and strength exercise can help to slow this decline dramatically and reduce the risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures.
- Falls Risk – Falls cause more hospital admissions, fractures and premature death in the elderly. Strength and balance training can help keep you on your feet and living independently and longer in your own home.
- Immunity – at times like COVID, we need to have a strong immunity. Exercise can be one part of ensuring that you are in the best health.
- Mental Health – exercise is one of the most potent anti-depressants that we have and can delay the onset and severity of dementia. It also improves memory, concentration, alertness, focus and therefore efficiency at work or school. In life right now with the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever that we keep moving.
- General wellness! A lack of exercise can play a role in the development of other chronic conditions, feel free to read the references below for more information on this and all 6 points.
So…HOW MUCH DO I NEED TO EXERCISE?
The World Health Organisation recommends 30 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise, 5 days a week and 2 resistance sessions. It is estimated that it could cut Australia’s disease burden due to insufficient physical activity by about 26%.
In terms of rehab – that is where the physiotherapist comes in. Listen to your physio and it is important to complete your exercises. If the exercises are too much – let your physio know. Exercises become bad when you don’t do them!
So…HOW DO I START?
If you have an injury or pain – it is best to get it checked out by your physiotherapist. That way, they can structure a plan specific for you.
If you are injury free and not in pain – it is often still a good idea to chat to your physiotherapist so that they can guide you on the correct way to start so that you don’t develop an injury or pain. Especially on the back of COVID, many will be starting after a period of relative inactivity. Back In Motion offers a FREE 20 minute Initial Assessment to help out in situations like this!
Contact us on 5613 3115 to book in!
- Mueller MJ, Maluf KS. Tissue Adaptation to Physical Stress: A Proposed “Physical Stress Theory” to Guide Physical Therapist Practice, Education, and Research. Physical Therapy. 2002;82(4):383-403. doi:10.1093/ptj/82.4.383.
- Bleakley CM. PRICE needs updating, should we call the POLICE? South African Journal of Sports Medicine. 2016;25(1). doi:10.17159/2413-3108/2013/v25i1a463.
- Vavken P. Evidence-based Treatment of Muscle Injuries. Swiss Sports & Exercise Medicine. 2018;66(1):16-21. doi:10.34045/ssem/2018/2.
Author: Brendan Mason, Physiotherapist, Director Back In Motion Aspendale Gardens.
Brendan was born and bred in Aspendale Gardens and graduated from the University of Melbourne. Brendan has been involved competitively in representative football, cricket and martial arts, as well as netball, swimming and most recently has ventured into ultra-trail marathons.
He enjoys incorporating his knowledge of physiotherapy and sport into treating a range of musculoskeletal and sporting injuries. He thrives on the challenge of the assessment and management process to attain the greatest outcomes and performance for each and every patient. His practice, BIM Aspendale Gardens, has an Exercise Physiologist on staff further expanding their rehabilitation, treatment, and athletic performance options.