Physio’s are kind and caring people who really help patients getting better. Physiotherapy we have put together a list of our top 10 things we would really love you to know that will help you get better much quicker or prevent injuries occurring in the first place.
1. Home Exercise Program or practice
Physiotherapy is not all about the hands on treatment you receive while you are in the clinic with us. 99% of the time we will prescribe you a home exercise program which should be performed at home each day. Most of patient’s progress will come from doing homework and taking advice from physiotherapist. People may spend 1-2 hrs with us in the clinic but it’s what they do for the rest of the day that makes the most difference.
2. Don’t live with your pain before it gets late
As a general rule the longer you are in pain, the harder it is to get rid of. So, “pain that lasts more than 2-3 days requires to be seen by a physiotherapist as soon as possible”. The problem with leaving pain to go for many weeks or months is that you will likely start to move differently and use non-optimal strategies. This can change the motor pattern in the brain making you more set in your dysfunctional ways and may also lead to injuries in other areas.
3. Film or photograph your exercises
A common reason for poor compliance to a home exercise program is “I forgot how to do them”. OK, fair call, we all have a lot on our plate and trying to remember new exercises and the correct technique can be a bit difficult. With today’s technology all phones have a video or camera,that means no excuses. Ask your physiotherapist to film you doing the exercises so you can re-watch this when you get home and need to do your program.
4. Keep your body active
Participating in exercise and physical activity is important for your overall health and well being. In today’s society, where a lot of time is spent sitting, you need to break up this sedentary time to avoid injury associated with prolonged postures and lack of weight bearing. The benefits of exercise are well known, yet many people still neglect to fit 30 minutes of activity into their day. Exercise is a great preventative measure that you can take to protect against disease and should not be ignored no matter your age.
5. Do be very aware of your posture
With the rise in the number of desk workers we tend to see an increasing amount of postural related back and neck pain. This is mostly related to poor desk setup, prolonged sitting (8 hours/day), poor awareness of body position or gradual postural changes over time. Many postural disorders are avoidable through adopting good postural practices, using a standing desk where available, checking your work station setup and breaking up your sedentary time with exercise.
This isn’t all about desk workers though! People in manual jobs also need to watch how they lift and move throughout the day to avoid injury. We frequently see tradies with bad backs which is usually due to poor habits and technique at work over a prolonged time.
6. Control your weight
Being overweight or obese places greater stress on the joints of the body. This can result in increased osteoarthritis, cartilage wear, reduced aerobic capacity and many other health concerns. For many people in this population group their back or knee pain would be significantly reduced through a modest weight loss of 10-15Kg, although in some cases the end goal may be a 20-30Kg loss. Some people find it really difficult to lose weight be that due to poor motivation, lack of time, lack of knowledge etc. You are more likely to stick to a weight loss goal if you seek the support of family and friends and ask qualified health professionals for advice.
7. Avoid searching your cause of pain on internet
It can be tempting to Google your pain or injury in an attempt to diagnose what is going on.. However, after asking a few questions this was self-diagnosed because it fit the bill from Google. In some cases people have been right however in other cases they have not been, resulting in heighten anxiety and fear associated with pain. The best idea is to see your physiotherapist and have it diagnosed. You can then and ask for advice on where you can read more about your injury.
8. Stretch it out/ exercise
Balancing your physical activity, exercise and prolonged postures with stretching is really important for maintaining the correct length relationships between the muscles. Muscles can become tight and shortened which may reduce the efficiency of movement and contribute to injury. For example tight hamstrings or hip flex or muscles can lead to low back pain. We would recommend taking 10-15 minutes every couple of days to undertake some stretching of the main muscle groups.
9. Invest in good quality sports equipment and shoes
If you are going to participate in sport and physical activity you need to buy good quality protective equipment specific to your sport and needs. You only have one body and most parts are irreplaceable. Footwear is another important consideration.
10. Keep moving if you have lower back pain
If you have low back pain please walk.This is an old school way of thinking but much more evidence these days shows keeping mobile will provide better outcomes. If you are in severe pain (unable to move, extreme back spasms) then a trip to the hospital may be needed. However, if you are still able to get around but are in moderate amounts of pain then you should see your physiotherapist ASAP. It is recommended back pain patients should not sit more than 20-30 minutes at one time, keep mobile, use a heat pack for pain relief as needed.