About Exercise Therapy

Exercise Therapy is a branch of manual medicine, which focuses on the treatment and management of pain and dysfunction of the musculoskeletal system. It is designed to treat the muscles and skeletal system using various soft tissue and mobilization (not manipulation) techniques, gradually bringing the body back into alignment and effectively treating the source of pain and dysfunction. 

Pain can not only be an unpleasant experience it can also significantly impact on your daily life. Statistics show that 8 out of 10 Americans are suffering from back and shoulder pain. This pain can cause them lack of sleep, require time off work and restrict their participation in recreational and sporting activities. Furthermore statistics show that one in every five people in American will suffer from chronic pain at some point during their lives. Chronic pain can lead to feelings of frustration, irritability and can also be a source of depression. 

 45% of the long term pain suffered by Americans is due to a musculoskeletal or connective tissue cause. Exercise therapists are experts in assessing, treating and managing pain and dysfunction that is caused by the soft tissues and joints of the body, therefore this makes them the number one choice for treating this type of injury. 

Some of the main causes for back and shoulder pain are:

·         Stress / Tension 

·         Computer work 

·         Poor posture

·         Injury 

·         Spinal dysfunction

·         Manual labor

·         History of repetitive movements 

·         Sedentary lifestyle 

What is an Exercise Therapist (ET)?

This is probably not a profession that you may recognize, but do not worry – you are not alone! It is a relatively new profession that has been growing over the past 10 years. Exercise Therapy's integrated approach and specialist knowledge within the manual therapy industry are changing the way pain and injuries are treated and managed for the better!

As this is relatively new profession there can be some confusion as to what type of therapist an Exercise therapist is. They are not physical therapists, nor are they massage therapists. We are primary health care practitioners, with advanced training in Health Sciences. An exercise therapist possess a high level of skill and knowledge in the diagnosis of dysfunction and disorders of a musculoskeletal nature and have an extensive range of treatment options to effectively treat and prevent injuries. 

Exercise therapists posses a wide array of techniques which they may use to treat your condition. These techniques can include:

·  Soft tissue therapy – therapeutic massage of the tissues of the body to relax the muscles, decrease tension, break down scar tissue and adhesions and for relief from pain.

·  Stretching – used to lengthen muscles or soft tissues and/or increase joint range of motion 

·  Heat – this can be used to facilitate muscle and soft tissue relaxation and relief from pain 

·  Cold – this is used for the treatment of acute injuries, to decrease swelling and inflammation and also for relief from pain 

·  Joint Mobilization – this is a technique designed to increase the range of motion and mobility of joints and the surrounding soft tissues. This is distinctly different from the high velocity manipulations that are used by other therapists such as chiropractors.

·  Myofascial release – fascia is a connective tissue that surrounds every muscle, groups of muscles, bones and organs. Fascia can shorten and cause restrictions in movement and impair posture, a number of techniques may be used to release these restrictions. 

·  Cupping Therapy – this is a technique that originates in Ancient Chinese medicine where a cup is used to create a vacuum on the skin, Western medicine has now advanced the technique and it is now used to treat a range of different conditions in a number of ways 

·  Trigger Point Therapy – this technique uses finger pressure to deactivate trigger points within the soft tissues of the body. It can be used for a wide range of conditions to reduce muscle tightness, bring pain relief and promote healing of the area. This technique is distinctly different from acupuncture which is a Chinese medicine technique designed to affect the energy channels (meridians) of the body, dry needling uses points that are defined by western based anatomy and physiology. 

·  Manual lymphatic drainage – this technique uses a slow and repetitive stroke to encourage the flow and movement of lymphatic fluid. It is commonly used to help reduce inflammation and swelling following an acute injury, or following surgery and may also be used for people with disorders causing fluid retention. 

·  Muscle Energy Techniques (MET) – this technique uses static muscle contractions against resistance to improve the motion of a joint, it may also be used to help with neurological retraining

·  Positional Release Technique (PRT) – this is a technique used to help reduce pain and muscle spasm by placing the body in a position of ease and allowing the surrounding tissues to relax

Exercise Therapists are experts in movement, function and posture, as such relief from pain; or recovery from an injury are often the most thought of and sought after benefits of Exercise therapy. However, ET's can also provide a number of other health benefits. These can include improvements in posture, strengthening of core musculature, increased range of movement and flexibility and improved overall well-being. Furthermore ET’s are skilled in providing advice regarding injury prevention, managing the natural process of aging, and even rehabilitation following surgery. 

ET's work closely with performers, athletes or just everyday people to not only treat injuries but to also prevent them from occurring by correcting and optimizing the functioning of the body, and reducing the risk of the development of overuse and repetitive strain injuries. 

The ET may prescribe a number of different exercises, stretches and nutritional advice that are specifically tailored to your condition to help repair and strengthen your body to prevent the re-occurrence of injury, these can include:

·         Core strength exercises 

·         Postural retraining 

·         Self stretches 

·         Balance retraining 

·         Gait or walking retraining

·         Isometric exercises – these are muscle contractions designed to strengthen a muscle or joint without placing the joint under stress, they are usually prescribed early in the rehabilitation phase 

·         Isotonic exercises – basic strengthening exercises for a muscle or muscle groups usually with resistance