ACTIVE PHYSICAL THERAPY
In our last blog post, How Physical Therapy Can Help If You Suffer From Chronic Pain, we discussed how passive physical therapy techniques can help. Passive therapies, such as deep tissue massage, manual therapy, hot and cold therapy, transcutaneous Nerve Stimulation (TENS), ultrasound, dry needling and strapping or bracing, are generally done in conjunction with active therapies.
In the active part of physical therapy, your therapist will teach you various exercises to improve your flexibility, strength, core stability, and range of motion (the range your joints can move through). Your therapist will also work with you to find which activities will suit you best and help keep you motivated.
Your physical therapist will also help you to correct any postural issues that may be contributing to your pain, and advise you on how to set up your desk and computer optimally, or how to lift or carry things without harming yourself. This is all part of the “self-care” or “self-treatment” aspect of physical therapy. Through physical therapy, you learn good habits and principles that enable you to take better care of your body.
Why is exercise and being active so important if you suffer from chronic pain?
Chronic pain patients are often caught in a cycle where they avoid activity because it causes pain which in turn leads to inactivity. This creates an unhealthy lifestyle, which in turn reduces strength, endurance, range of motion of your joints and muscles and affects your overall sense of wellbeing and confidence. As you get weaker, you become more susceptible to injury and unable to work through the healing process. And so the cycle continues.
There are many benefits to exercise, which essentially help to break that cycle of disuse:
1 – It keeps your joints moving well: This is especially important if your chronic pain is caused by a form of arthritis.
2 – It helps to keep your muscles strong: Strong muscles support your body and bones better, which is particularly important for patients with chronic pain. The stronger your muscles, the less likely you are to tire as easily when doing an activity. Strong muscles are also less likely to fatigue and go into a spasm which results in pain.
3 – Staying active is good for your mental health: It is common for chronic pain patients to struggle with depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues because it becomes difficult to live your life in the same way that you have always done. Staying active can help boost self-esteem and make you feel like you’re doing something to fight your pain and its effect on your life. Exercising with friends or joining a gym is a good way to both motivate yourself and reap the social benefits of exercise.
4 – It helps you maintain a healthy weight, lose weight and avoid obesity: Extra weight can add to your pain, particularly if you have chronic back and joint pain. By making healthy nutritional choices and staying physically fit, you can avoid adding this additional strain to your body.
5 – Fitness level: Doing exercise will make you fitter – that is your cardiovascular fitness. Your heart rate won’t race so much when you do something and nor will you be so breathless. The fitter you are the less tired you feel, which makes it easier to go about your daily chores or work.
Your physical therapist can help in planning your exercise and activities as well as explaining the principles of pacing. Once you realise that freedom from pain is possible, and that a healthy lifestyle, routine exercise, and proper nutrition leading to overall fitness will help maintain that freedom, you will become more confident and better able to manage your pain, both physically as well as psychologically.
At the Putney Clinic, we run regular yoga, Pilates and Tai Chi classes which are a great way to start exercising gently and building strength. No membership is required and anyone can drop in to these classes. Any first class is just £5. Click on the class timetable link to view the class schedule and to book online.
To find out more, do check out the Putney Clinic’s Osteopathy Services, Physiotherapy Services and Massage Services, contact us on 020 8789 3881 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your needs and find out how we can be of help.