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  • Writer's picturemaxine cooch

6 things you may not know about Physio

Updated: Jan 6, 2023

There are many myths and misconceptions out there about what physio is and what physio isn't, so today I would like to clear up any confusion that there may be. I hope you enjoy.

1. Its not just about the muscles.

I often see vague, sweeping statements about how physio is just for muscles, well for me Physiotherapy is all encompassing. You cannot effect one thing without affecting another. Muscles insert onto bones, they are there to move joints, imagine if the muscle is contracting (because it is tight, overactive protective or in spasm), but the joint isn't moving, this is going to put a lot of pressure on that bony insertion. I rarely work on muscle without then getting deeper to work on joints, particularly when it comes to equine back pain.

In actual fact physios cannot be better placed to deal with all aspects of the body, this includes the muscular system (including tendon and muscle strains), the skeletal system (including joint abnormalities, fractures, breaks etc), the nervous system (such as sciatica).

2. As a Chartered Physiotherapist I can ASSESS, DIAGNOSES and TREAT people.

As a chartered physiotherapist, in human practice I have the autonomy and expertise to assess most musculoskeletal aliments and furthermore actually diagnose the problem, often far more effectively than most GP's. This could be

anything from a 'runner's knee' AKA Anterior knee pain, 'tennis elbow' AKA lateral epicondylitis, Migraines and even dizziness. Not too mention back pain, neck pain, wrist, arm, jaw, ankle, foot, finger, wrist, hand etc etc (you get the picture).

3. As a veterinary physiotherapist I can ASSESS and TREAT animals.

We can advise, assess and treat the condition, however as a profession we are not legally allowed to make a diagnosis, only a veterinary surgeon has that right. This is why it is so important to work closely with your vet when there is a problem, and all therapists should obtain permission to treat your horse prior to treating them (other than for maintenance treatments)

4. Physiotherapy is EVIDENCE BASED

This means that where possible everything that we do, and everything that we advise, has been proven to be effective through comprehensive and scientific research. Currently this is much easier to do within human physiotherapy due to the sheer amount of research coming out. As a result Physiotherapy is the ONLY musculoskeletal therapist t(i.e. no chiro, sports therapist / massage therapist or osteopath) that you can receive on the NHS, this is because it is PROVEN to work. Within the veterinary world this is still a developing area, but gradually more and more research is supporting our practice.

5. Clinical Reasoning is essential

Clinical reasoning is the reasoning behind why you do something. The whole process that we as physios go through, asking questions about you and your horse, looking carefully at muscle development, watching your horse move, not only on the straight but also on a circle and sometimes ridden, is all building up a picture of what could be going on. From that we decipher what we do in order to improve what we are seeing. So for example if you have a long weak muscle, what can we do to strengthen that muscle? If we have a tight 'overactive' muscle, what can we do to calm it down and stretch it. If we have a stiff joint, what can we do to ease that stiffness, and possible most importantly, WHY has this happened in the first place, WHAT is the primary cause, and can we target that and not just the secondary problems??

6. A massage from a physio is not the same as a massage at a spa

At times it may be painful, however you WILL feel the benefit afterwards. When we massage it is for therapeutic benefits, not just to relax, our aim is to reduce muscle tightness, relive referred pain and eventually relax the muscle. This will improve joint mobility and help to restore function, a relaxed muscle is a happy muscle :)

That said, you can massage until the cows come home, but unless you get to the cause of the problem i.e. why is that muscle getting tight in the first place, you are never going to solve the problem. Likewise, whilst new products such as massage pads, are an effective modality for between sessions, I don't believe that they could ever replace the human touch. If you have ever sat in a massage chair I'm sure you will agree, that whilst it is nice and relaxing, it is completely different to have a person really work on your problem areas, no matter what the manufacturers may tell you!

If you or your horse are suffering then don't suffer in silence. Book yourself a physiotherapy appointment to get to the bottom of your grievances.

Call Maxine on 07779003359 for an appointment or to discuss your requirements

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