When you hear “sports physiotherapy,” do you imagine alternative medical treatments like massage, acupuncture, or chiropractic therapy? Physiotherapy is quite different. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines physiotherapy as:
Therapy to preserve, enhance, or restore movement and physical function impaired or threatened by disease, injury, or disability using exercise, manual therapy, assistive devices, and patient education and training.
Sports physiotherapy focuses on the science of movement and is often as effective as surgery and/or medication to treat problems with joints, muscles, or nerves. You can experience relief from pain and discomfort within days of starting physiotherapy. Here are 8 ways sports physiotherapy can relieve aches and pains.
Canadian researchers at the University of Western Ontario found that physiotherapy and medication are just as effective as arthroscopic surgery for treating osteoarthritis in knees. A combination of strength and flexibility can treat pain, weakness, and muscle tightness in the knee. Your knees can either move too much or too little, causing inflammation and aches and pain. Sports physiotherapy addresses the underlying issues causing your discomfort, like an imbalanced gait, and prescribes treatments including orthotics to wear in your shoes to correct misalignment.
Asthma or sleep apnea
Beyond your joints and muscles, physiotherapy can treat conditions in your autonomic nervous system that controls your organs. Cardiovascular physiotherapists can treat breathing problems like asthma or sleep apnea with breathing control exercises. The purpose of breathing techniques is to improve the mobility of your chest and neck muscles through stretching and strengthening.
Pelvic floor disorders
Some women suffer from pelvic floor disorders like painful intercourse, urinary or bowel incontinence, or chronic abdominal or groin pain, especially after pregnancy, childbirth, or abdominal surgery. To treat pain in your abdomen or groin caused by pelvic muscles tightening, shortening, or spasming, physiotherapists use a combination of core strengthening exercises and relaxation techniques like Pilates.
Obesity can affect a person’s ability to exercise. The physical impact excess weight has on your musculoskeletal system can cause sore knees and tendonitis and can overtax vulnerable joints. Sports physiotherapists create a personalized exercise program to help sedentary patients get moving while protecting vulnerable joints and making it easier to work out and lose weight.
Many people suffering chronic pain can find relief by strengthening the muscles around painful joints or muscles. A Danish study found that women suffering from osteoporosis used less pain medication in just 10 weeks after starting a physiotherapy program. Once they improved their balance and stabilized their lumbar spine, they also reported a better quality of life.
You can experience back pain from a variety of reasons like poor posture, muscle strain, or arthritis. Depending on the source of pain, a physiotherapist might treat you with weight management exercises to reduce stress on joints, muscle strengthening to improve mobility, and changing the coordination of muscles in the painful area. There are about two dozen muscles in and around the lower back, and teaching all of them to work together can cure chronic back pain.
Shins and ankles
If you experience pain in your shins and ankles, sports physiotherapy can find the areas of weakness or stiffness causing the pain. A physiotherapist will design a specific exercise and be stretching program to address the cause of the pain through a combination of low-impact aerobic training, strength training, stretching, and pain relief exercises.
Fractures and breaks
Once your fractured bone begins to heal, you may need physiotherapy to build up muscle strength and restore nerve activity. A sports physiotherapist can prescribe specific exercises and strength training to gradually help restore the affected areas to normal activity. Use physiotherapy exercises to build up strength and flexibility and increase your range of movement after a fracture or break.
Sports physiotherapy will strengthen and stretch your muscles to treat pain at its source. It’s most important to continue your exercise and stretching program at home in between your physiotherapy appointments to gain the best results. It takes time and practice to retrain muscles after injury, disease, or disability, but sticking to your physiotherapy plan can help prevent pain from recurring.