What is Physiotherapy?

“Hi, is that the Physio? Hi, I’m not sure if you’ll be able to help me or not…”

This is a common remark that I hear when speaking to potential clients.

Can I help them?
What does a Physiotherapist do?
Which issues CAN we help with?

Everyone knows that you can go to your GP with just about any ache and ailment but Physiotherapy is more specific and – if it’s a ‘Physio problem’ – can be more relevant. To help clarify I’m going to briefly break down what Physiotherapy is (according to me & the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) – all quotes are theirs) and how Physiotherapy can help.

What is…


Physiotherapy helps restore movement and function when someone is affected by injury, illness or disability

In other words, it’s therapy (treatment intended to relieve or heal a disorder) to help you manage or improve pain and problems relating to…


i.e. walking, standing, standing from sitting, running, doing sport, reaching a high shelf, bending and also non-movements like sitting, lying etc, as non-movement can still be a source of pain and discomfort, and…


i.e. getting out of bed, going up & down stairs, working, looking after kids, cooking the dinner, keeping up with hobbies and more. And because most peoples’ reasons for seeking medical help are pain-related, Physiotherapists can help…


where it relates to movement/function.

move6And we Physio’s can help with many things! A few examples are:

  • backache on movement/stationary positions
  • ‘done something’ to body part x and it’s painful on movement
  • managing long-term health issues e.g. arthritis, asthma, Parkinsons, chronic pain conditions
  • sore neck
  • foot/leg pain related to a particular sport
  • stroke rehabilitation
  • post-childbirth back/pelvis pain
  • a hip that hurts when lying on it
  • general mobility loss e.g. can no longer get up off the floor
  • preparing for/recovering from sports events

How do Physio’s help with Movement & Function?

Through Movement & Exercise, Manual Therapy, Education & Advice

move1We treat dysfunctional movement with correct movement. We get you to MOVE in a specific and targeted way (I’m avoiding using the word ‘exercise’ – a word that has far too many boring connotations attached) to create better, more efficient and more comfortable movement.

adviceWe also ADVISE & EDUCATE; Physiotherapists have a wealth of training and experience – and often much personal experience and experimentation – relating to how to move and function better. Improvements can often be made simply via wise words suggesting things that you can do or changes that you can make to help you move/function better.

MANUAL THERAPY means my doing treatment TO you – typically getting you to lie down whilst I wiggle a joint around, move a relaxed limb, use massage techniques etc. These can be useful and informative and can produce improvements but there’s amove2 growing body of evidence that suggests that it’s often more effective to treat using movement and exercise than via the more passive forms of treatment. So if you seem to be doing most of the work in the clinic, that’s fine! With the right guidance you’ll likely do a far better job of fixing yourself than my hands alone can.

N.B. In my role of ‘Massage Therapist’ I do use massage as a stand-alone treatment – most people gain benefit from massage and I’m convinced that the world would be a much better place if everyone had one occasionally. Similarly in the role of ‘Pilates instructor’ I teach Pilates  and I draw heavily on Physiotherapy-based knowledge for both, and vice versa.

With better Movement & Function…

Physiotherapist’s aim to

Prevent Disease

If you can stay fitter, stronger, healthier and with lower levels of pain in movement and function (and let’s face it who wouldn’t want to) you’re less likely to succumb to many other ailments and problems, thus leading to a more pleasurable life and less strain on our overburdened NHS. Everyone’s a winner!

And Physio’s are cost cutters, aiming to

Enable people to stay in work while helping them to remain independent for as long as possible

dancingFrankly I think this is an appalling mentality – are we only meant to stay moving and functioning so that we can work? I want you to stay independent so that you can work as necessary (and if you love your job then wonderful) but also so that you can enjoy to the best of your ability everything else that this wonderful, tenuous and precious life has to offer.

And as a Physiotherapist I do all this regardless of, but working with, your:

  • age
  • gender
  • fitness level
  • disability
  • mental/emotional state
  • other medical issues
  • your general lifestyle, family/friend connections
  • your motivation, thoughts and opinions

Physiotherapy is a science-based profession and takes a ‘whole person’ approach to health and wellbeing


At the core is (your) involvement in (your own) care, through education, awareness, empowerment and participation in (your) treatment

I can question, observe, poke, mobilise, explain and teach you about your issue but ultimately it will be YOU, with my guidance, who fixes your problem.

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What is Physiotherapy

Nov 28, 2017 by Jenny Dickson

I realise from reading this that I'm still in need of what you have to offer as my low back pain has persisted in spite of the therapy I've tried since August and the suggested exercises etc. I'll speak with you Julie after the next Pilates class on Mon 4th Dec. Thank you for this article.

Nov 25, 2017 by V

Hear hear. Physio is all about relieving pain and teaching ways to move that minimise deterioration and optimise freedom of movement.

Sports Massage Therapy, Remedial massage, Physiotherapy // Calder Massage, Hebden Bridge , USA 5.0 5.0 2 2 I realise from reading this that I'm still in need of what you have to offer as my low back pain has persisted in spite of the therapy I've tried since August and the suggested exe

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