We all know the benefits of being physically active and fit, not only for our physical wellbeing – heart health, lung capacity, weight management and a whole host of other benefits – but for our mental wellbeing too. But what happens if you have an injury or chronic pain – should you exercise at all? When you are in pain, whether it’s caused by an injury or chronic condition, it sometimes feels like you can’t – or shouldn’t – move at all.
Being physically fit doesn’t necessarily mean we have to be able to run a marathon, and many people now realise that exercise can also be therapeutic. Sometimes the best therapy is to keep your body moving.
Exercise therapy uses specific stylised movements to improve the way the body functions. It focuses on moving the body and its different parts to relieve symptoms and improve mobility – and of course levels of fitness. You can use exercise therapy for the prevention and management of pain and along the way, get to know your body and the way it works better.
How Exercise Therapy Works
Injuries happen and chronic conditions slowly emerge, and sometimes we just move our bodies in ways that they aren’t quite meant for, and doing this over a lifetime can cause injury and pain. A range of therapeutic exercise options are often recommended for injury prevention and rehabilitation, and can also be used to address faulty movement patterns that may have been the cause of an injury.
A lot of research has also been done that supports the use of therapeutically prescribed exercise programs for conditions such as back pain, arthritis, diabetes, osteoporosis and heart disease.
An exercise therapy program may include exercises to:
- Maximise physical abilities
- Optimise muscular functioning
- Improve physical fitness
- Improve general health and wellbeing.
An exercise therapist will usually be trained in the principles of rehabilitation, how pain works and the role of exercise in body repair. They can tailor a program for your specific needs.
It’s Not All About the Body
Exercise therapy can also help relieve stress, get a better night’s sleep, combat depression and generally improve our sense of wellbeing. Physical activity and exercise can help deal with depression as they cause the body to release endorphins, naturally occurring chemicals in the body known to elevate moods. It literally makes youfeel good!
It’s always important to consult your doctor before starting any exercise program if you have any health issues. He or she can recommend the right type of exercise therapy or therapist for you. A therapist can recommend the appropriate program for you based on frequency, intensity, type of exercise and time.