By Andrew Hoare, Director of PhysioTrain
Working in a multidisciplinary clinic, I am often asked about what I do and how my approach differs from the other practitioners in our group. “What’s the difference between a Physiotherapist and an Osteopath or Chiropractor?” This must be the most common question we are all asked and the truth is it’s hard enough to compress my own life into one sentence, let alone reduce my colleagues to a soundbite. Therefore, it’s much better for me to tell you about my own approach and how a Physiotherapy might be able to help you.
Physiotherapists (Physios) working in private practice are experts in movement dysfunction. Pain is often the result of excessive pressure being placed on certain structures as a result of a lack of movement or weakness somewhere in the body. The skill of the Physio is in performing a detailed and thorough assessment of the body, to identify which of these deficiencies may be present, and the degree to which they are affecting the individual’s performance or producing their pain.
Imagine an office worker who suffers neck pain while sitting at their computer. Having a massage will most likely feel great and offer temporary relief, but is unlikely to address the underlying cause of the problem. Perhaps their workstation is set up incorrectly, perhaps their upper back has become too stiff to allow them to sit up straight, or they lacks the muscular endurance to maintain a good sitting posture for the amount of time required. Or perhaps they simply lack awareness of the importance of good posture, the impact it is having on their spine, and the steps they could be taking to reduce the damaging effects of prolonged sitting. Physiotherapists are trained to look at all of these factors in order to relieve the pain as quickly as possible, and implement a strategy to prevent the pain from coming back.
Once the condition has been assessed the next step is – what to do about it? Here the Physio may use a range of hands-on, manual techniques such as massage, joint mobilisation, manipulation or stretching to help restore the full range of movement to the affected area. In the case of muscle weakness, specific strengthening exercises would be prescribed, with time taken to ensure that the correct muscles are working. Home exercises are often prescribed, with the intention of building on the work done in the session, and continuing to correct the imbalances found in the assessment.
Many Physios, myself included, have undertaken additional training in Pilates, as it ties in well with our belief in the value of focused, specific exercise in the correction of postural problems and painful conditions. Professionally supervised exercise can be very effective, as it allows someone who knows your condition to correct your technique, and progress your exercises at an appropriate rate. Of course, speaking as a Physio, we would really like it if you would do those home exercises too!
The Physiotherapists at PhysioTrain have taken this approach to another level with the introduction of Redcord Suspension Exercise to our services. Redcord uses the principles of weight-bearing exercise, instability and three dimensional movement to develop a better understanding of where your strengths and weaknesses lie, and therefore a more targeted treatment or exercise regime. So come and see the Physios at our Brighton and Middle Park clinics today.