“Physical Therapy” or “Physiotherapy” are terms thrown about in the world of medicine & health. Essentially, they are both the same thing and are defined as: "The treatment of disease, injury, or deformity by physical methods such as massage, heat treatment, and exercise rather, than by drugs or surgery" Types of physical therapy Physical Therapy has lots of different avenues and specialties that practitioners are trained in to help those with a wide variety of issues. Here are a few of the main ones: Musculoskeletal (MSK) - This system is comprised of the skeleton (bones), Joints, Muscles and other soft tissue structures such as Tendons, Ligaments, Fascia & Cartilage Neurological (Neuro) - This system involves structures that receive and send messages to the brain and spinal cord such as nerves (The nervous system) Cardio-Respiratory – This system is formed from 2 sub-systems, the cardio (Heart) & the Respiratory (lungs), including a vast network of blood vessels that manage the exchange of blood to and from our muscles & organs. As a sports therapist our main treatment specialty is toward the MSK & Neuro system, so lets take a deeper dive into the MSK system specifically. The MSK System The MSK system allows us to move in the fascinating way that humans can do and can be fine-tuned in a multitude of ways to make our movements faster, stronger and more efficient. The way in which we train our MSK system, dictates to what specific strengths we hold, this is why people train in different ways, depending on what they are trying to achieve. Even for elite athletes, those who train in different sports will have a variety of different training techniques that they can utilise to be more efficient at the movements required in that specific activity. For example, bodybuilders have large amounts of muscle and can therefore lift incredibly heavy weights, but CrossFit athletes are more functional & co-ordinated, working to lift weight with efficiency and speed. However, as the MSK system is incredibly complex, it means our weaknesses can stand out and take over our normal patterns of movement. From abnormal standing & sitting postures, muscular imbalances throughout the body or tissue/joint damage caused by an injury, our system can get out of shape at points and cause symptoms such as: limited movement, pain, tightness, instability and weakness. Different treatment methods Therefore, the aim of Physical therapy is to restore our body back to normal function & then train it efficiently to become stronger through those points of weakness. We can then aim to restore movement and develop a long-term plan to reduce the risk of re-injury. We do this through a mix of hands-on treatments and exercise-based treatments. Your physical therapist will determine which ones will be most effective for you, however they are usually used in tandem, to create an individualised plan. Here are some examples of what we do: Soft Tissue Treatments - This includes soft tissue release (STR), Instrument-assisted STR & trigger point therapy. These are useful for releasing tension in the muscle & fascia that has been overworked and become tight. Manual Therapy - This includes joint mobilisations & manipulations. We use these to improve the movement at joints, usually after injury, but they can be useful pre-exercise for those with limited movement. Exercise Therapy - Strengthening, Stability/Balance, Mobility, Yoga/Pilates & Stretching. These are the keys to building an effective rehabilitation and training plan. In most cases, we always want to keep your body moving, starting with the basics. Electrotherapy Modalities - Electrotherapy, shockwave, TENS, Laser & Interferential. Can be utilised alongside other therapies to speed-up rehab times. Medical Acupuncture - Dry Needling & Acupuncture are great for releasing chronic muscular tension & allowing muscles to relax. Short Term Accessories - Crutches, AirCast Boots & Bracing. Usually applied to allow tissue offload for a short period of time before commencing a rehabilitation plan. Physical therapy can be utilised as a stand-alone treatment, or may run concurrent with other treatments to benefit your symptoms. Referral to other practitioners such as Doctors, Chiropractors, Osteopaths and orthotists may be useful to help your condition and we will always choose options that best suit you. Sports therapists - Where do we fit in? Sports therapists have an excellent understanding of the MSK system & We are specialists not only in the assessment of these injuries, but in the application of those treatment methods toward an effective rehabilitation plan. Our extra skills and certifications in areas like Acupuncture, dry needling & manual therapy give us a strong toolbox of treatments to provide you with a quality service, tailored towards your own goals. Conclusion As much as these systems are incredibly complex, there is always a solution to the injury or pain you are feeling. Everyone's body is different, and things that work for others may not work as well for you. If you are feeling pain, or are suffering from an injury, make sure to see
a Physical therapist to assess you & help develop strategies to improve your pain & function in the long run. We hope this has helped you understand our world of physical therapy better. If you would like any more information or need to book an appointment with us please get in touch!