Why is it important ?
You may have noticed that physiotherapists often give you exercises to do.
One of the main reasons they prescribe exercises is that a lot of changes can take place in your body following injury and pain, and the exercises they prescribe help to address these changes.
Pain has an interesting impact on the body, not only on the way it makes you feel (grumpy, anxious, tired, irritable and sometimes depressed) but also on your soft tissues (muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia) and joints. Pain is your body’s way of telling you something is wrong and we should pay attention to this. The body is a little like a computer with programmes running constantly and signals being sent from tissues and joints to the brain and vice versa. Pain has a way of interrupting these pathways in particular to muscles and joints. The signals can be a bit fuzzy or they can be diverted elsewhere. This can result in the muscles not receiving the right message and therefore not being able to function in the required way. Sometimes these muscles stop working effectively and become weaker over time, or can become sore, while other muscles try to compensate and become tight, tense and overworked. This combination can lead to our body learning to move in a different pattern, generally taking the path of least resistance.
A common example of this disruption caused by pain is in knee injuries such as an anterior cruciate ligament injury where the quadriceps muscles (in particular the Vastus Medialis, VMO) visibly decreases in size and strength. The receptors of the joint are muddled and don’t respond as well to load and lose the sense of where they are in space, called proprioception, which affects balance.
The benefits of exercise prescription
This is where physio exercise prescription comes into play and helps people to switch on, activate and strengthen and lengthen the muscles which have been affected by injury and pain. Exercises to improve strength, endurance, function and flexibility are often the focus in the rehabilitation process. Improving overall fitness in terms of cardiovascular (CV) fitness is equally important for a multitude of health benefits. CV exercise has a profound effect on improving mood and wellbeing as well reducing the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, blood pressure and anxiety.
Usually the final phase of rehabilitation and exercise prescription is the specificity of skills and movement required for a certain sport or goal that you’ve decided upon. For example, people may wish to get back to playing tennis pain-free and others may want to run a half marathon. These goals are quite different and therefore require an individual approach to the fine tuning of their rehabilitation and exercise prescription.
Tennis is a dynamic and skills-specific sport. Running on the other hand requires muscles, tendons and joints to handle repetitive load and have an endurance component and progressive load input. Exercise prescription in a physio setting is very individual and is driven by what a person wants to achieve.
At Ponsonby Physiotherapy we have an on-site gym which is open for our patients to use during their rehabilitation process. We also have the ability to set and send exercise programmes via email which provides both written and visual descriptions of exercises. We have a good background in general exercise progressions and training tips for various sports, with a special interest in cycling, running, boxing, kick boxing, tennis and swimming.