Complement your fitness regime with professional treatment.
In a city where relaxing luxury spa treatments take precedence over medicine-based massages and physiotherapy, active Dubaians can often overlook the need to get their limbs expertly attended to following a sport or gym-related injury.
Dubai-based Greek doctor and physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist Dr Bill Mitsis says, ‘I still meet a lot of people here in Dubai who oversimplify things by thinking physiotherapy is the same as massage or who don’t really know what rehabilitation is.’
Here, he explains what physiotherapy is, why it’s important, and provides three exercise tips you can do yourself at home.
What is it?
Physiotherapy is the method of treating disease, injury or disability using physical means such as heat, electricity, tissue manipulation or exercise. It is commonly and widely used to treat conditions affecting the musculoskeletal or nervous system, and in recent years it has increasingly been used on hospital patients with serious cardiac and pulmonary problems as a supplementary treatment.
Who needs it?
In sport, there are two main reasons for the use of physiotherapy. One is that participants need someone to help them prepare for their sport of choice, for example by providing muscle stretches before participation or for relaxation after it. This helps with performance and prevention of injury. In the unfortunate event of a sports-related injury, a physiotherapist can help with relieving pain, speeding up recovery and helping an athlete achieve a return to form. Generally, a doctor with the appropriate speciality should diagnose the condition and provide a physiotherapy referral. If you are suffering from any condition affecting the muscular, skeletal or nervous system, then physiotherapy is likely to be an effective treatment option.
How does it work?
A physiotherapist generally uses a combination of machines delivering some form of natural energy, techniques using their hands and assisted or supervised exercise. Some examples for each category are laser and electrotherapy, massage and muscle stretches and targeted strengthening or range of motion exercise. Modern therapists are also frequently able to do acupuncture and kinesio taping techniques. The overall aim is always to achieve or speed up recovery and improve quality of life.
What is sports physiotherapy?
This mostly involves dealing with healthy, young individuals who are seeking support for safer and improved participation – you’re likely to have seen top athletes compete with kinesio taping applied to their bodies, for example. The second significant aspect is that athletes sustain very specific injuries and you have to deal with these to get them back to their sport as fast and as safely as possible.
How are goals used in physiotherapy?
Goals always depend on diagnosis and are set for each specific phase of recovery, since requirements change during treatment. At first, the goal is mainly to reduce pain, inflammation and swelling. The focus gradually shifts to regaining flexibility, range of motion and strengthening the injured area. This will be marked by a gradual return to activity with some restrictions before a full return to competitive level.
Which are the main muscles targeted with physiotherapy?
The spine, especially the neck and lower back, all major joints and muscles of the arms and legs, and shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees and ankles. Each has its own range of problems and physiotherapy can offer solutions. A good physiotherapist will know techniques for virtually every muscle and body area.
From Dhs600 per session. Excellency Centers, Al Saaha, Block D, Office W406, Old Town Island, Downtown Dubai (04 453 3377).
Physiotherapy at home
Dr Mitsis suggests neck stretches to relieve daily tension and exercises for under-utilised muscles of the legs. Doing an exercise incorrectly, however, can cause problems. ‘I tell my patients to exercise under the supervision of a qualified physiotherapist or trainer.’
1 Neck stretches
Bend the head to the side, ear towards the shoulder, without attempting to get too close or without raising the shoulder. Put your palm on the opposite ear and apply gentle pressure to amplify the move slightly. Stop when you feel a pull at the side of the neck. Keep the stance for ten seconds and then return slowly to neutral. Repeat on the other side.
2 Abductors strengthening
Put a pillow bent in half or a ball of a similar diameter between your thighs. Attempt to crush it by closing your legs. Do this for ten seconds, release, count another ten resting and repeat 20 times.
3 Hamstrings stretch
Put your leg straight on a table so that it is extended to about 90 degrees or slightly less. Lean forwards over the leg until you feel a pull at the rear of the leg. Avoid excessive bending of your back; usually a little bow is enough. Hold for ten seconds, return your body to neutral, count another ten and repeat 20 times.