Im­por­tant ques­tions to as­sist with phys­i­cal health

Great Health Guide - - CONTENTS - Kusal Goonewar­dena

More peo­ple are tak­ing in­ter­est in their health and fit­ness, ask­ing ques­tions about phys­io­ther­apy and ac­cess­ing in­for­ma­tion on­line. But it’s re­mark­able how many ques­tions and mis­con­cep­tions about phys­io­ther­apy re­main. We need to an­swer ques­tions about phys­io­ther­apy be­cause peo­ple can of­ten be lead astray by wrong ad­vice which prevents peo­ple from re­ceiv­ing the treat­ment they need to over­come their in­juries. In my 19 years as a phys­io­ther­a­pist, the fol­low­ing ques­tions are the most com­mon:

Is phys­io­ther­apy just an ex­pen­sive mas­sage?

No, phys­io­ther­a­pists use mas­sage, but this is only one tiny tool we use to treat our pa­tients. Qual­i­fied phys­io­ther­a­pists have ex­ten­sive knowl­edge of the mus­cu­loskele­tal, car­dio­tho­racic and neu­ro­log­i­cal sys­tems. This knowl­edge is in­cor­po­rated in hands-on skills for di­ag­no­sis and treat­ment.

Are phys­io­ther­a­pists and chi­ro­prac­tors the same?

Only su­per­fi­cially, since both phys­io­ther­a­pists and chi­ro­prac­tors study the hu­man body, but the knowl­edge based and prob­lem-solv­ing skills that phys­io­ther­a­pists use are vastly dif­fer­ent. Phys­io­ther­apy train­ing in­volves study­ing the heart, lungs, brain and skele­tal sys­tem which then al­lows phys­io­ther­a­pists to work in the hos­pi­tal set­ting. Chi­ro­prac­tors can only work in pri­vate prac­tice.

Can stretch­ing pre­vent in­jury dur­ing ex­er­cise?

A com­pre­hen­sive warm-up prevents in­jury. A proper warm-up in­cludes ad­dress­ing your biome­chan­ics, mo­bil­ity, strength, core and con­di­tion­ing. Stretch­ing is rec­om­mended to help loosen you up and al­low you to treat trou­ble­some ar­eas. But stretch­ing alone is not enough to pre­vent in­jury.

Will a good mat­tress pre­vent back pain?

Oh, if only it was that easy to pre­vent back pain since this is­sue im­pacts 80 per cent of us at some stage of our lives. While a com­fort­able mat­tress is a good thing, it can never be con­sid­ered a cure­all for back pain. There is lit­tle re­search link­ing good mat­tresses and back pain preven­tion. Un­for­tu­nately, back pain is far more com­pli­cated than sleep­ing on a qual­ity mat­tress. There are many con­tribut­ing fac­tors to back pain and mis­di­ag­no­sis is com­mon.

Should you wear a neck brace after a car ac­ci­dent?

Wear­ing a neck brace is among the worst things that you can do to your neck after a car ac­ci­dent. There are many joints in the neck alone – a brace stops them from mov­ing prop­erly, which means you are weak­en­ing the mus­cles hold­ing up the neck, so it takes longer for you to heal. Neck braces should only be worn if a health pro­fes­sional has ad­vised you to do so.

Can I google the ex­er­cises that I should do?

Search­ing for ex­er­cises on­line is like

try­ing to google what’s wrong with your car. You might get a broad an­swer but noth­ing spe­cific. You ei­ther risk do­ing ex­er­cises which are in­ap­pro­pri­ate and re­sult in in­jury or you just waste time do­ing un­nec­es­sary ex­er­cises. A phys­io­ther­a­pist will as­sess and eval­u­ate ex­actly what ex­er­cises you should do and for how long. They will also show you how to mon­i­tor your progress at home.

I don’t have pain so why do I need a phys­io­ther­a­pist?

Elite ath­letes are ex­cel­lent at us­ing phys­io­ther­apy as a pre­ven­ta­tive mea­sure. See­ing your phys­io­ther­a­pist at the cor­rect time will en­sure your body is primed and ready for what you want to do.

Do I need a re­fer­ral to see a phys­io­ther­a­pist?

No, you don’t. Other than in a hos­pi­tal, you can make a book­ing in any prac­tice and see a phys­io­ther­a­pist. It’s worth men­tion­ing that not all phys­io­ther­a­pists are the same; some are qual­i­fied in dif­fer­ent treat­ment method­olo­gies than oth­ers and may have dif­fer­ing philoso­phies in how they ap­proach things. There is bound to be a phys­io­ther­a­pist for your needs. Re­mem­ber to ask ques­tions about phys­io­ther­apy from your prac­ti­tioner and don’t be afraid to shop around when choos­ing a prac­ti­tioner.

Kusal Goonewar­dena is an ex­pe­ri­enced phys­io­ther­a­pist, lec­turer, con­sul­tant and men­tor to thou­sands of phys­io­ther­apy stu­dents around the world. Kusal has au­thored books in­clud­ing: Low Back Pain – 30 Days to Pain Free; 3 Minute Work­outs; and co-au­thored Nat­u­ral Heal­ing: Quiet and Calm. Kusal con­sults via his clinic, Elite Akademy.

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