Easy Physiotherapy Exercises
For Common Aches and Pains



Physiotherapy Exercises - Ask The Professionals:

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For some common sports injuries, there are easy physiotherapy exercises that you can do at home.

Sometimes it may take a while to get seen by a physiotherapist, depending on where you live.

During that time you could be helping yourself by doing simple exercises.

We'll take a look at exercises for your:

These exercises are designed to reduce and prevent stiffness, usually as a result of muscle (soft tissue) injury. The idea is to keep the muscle moving through its range of motion, so that it doesn't become stiff or lose strength.

The natural reaction to shoulder pain, for example, is to not move it at all, so it won't hurt. But this will lead to weaker shoulder muscles which may increase the chance of further injury, and stiffness of the joint which may lead to more pain when you eventually do try and move it.

So I guess you can see how some simple movement exercises can help greatly.

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Avoid Injury SideNote

The guides provided on this website are for information purposes only, and should only be followed at your own discretion.

You should seek medical advice immediately if:

  • you are unsure of what to do.
  • your pain is unbearable or stopping you from doing everyday activities.
  • your injury gets rapidly worse.

The physiotherapy exercises on this page are safe to do as long as you follow the guidelines strictly.
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Types Of Pain

Pain is your main guide with an injury. You will have to monitor your own pain during each exercise. In very simple terms, there are 2 types of pain:

  • Pain due to stiffness.. this pain is bearable for the duration of your exercises. It will ease soon after you finish. This pain is basically telling you that your muscle is a bit out of practice and needs to be eased back in to working order. So it's OK to experience this pain. It will range from little or no pain to quite severe.
  • Pain due to damage.. this pain is definitely NOT OK. It will range from unbearable to the point where you're screaming in agony (try to stop before you get to that stage!). It will carry on long after your exercises and may not ease for a few days. This pain is telling you that your muscle is still highly damaged and isn't ready to be exercised yet. If you experience this pain then stop your exercise immediately.

The amount of exercise you do depends on your monitoring of your pain. As with any other exercise, listen to your body.

If the pain is bearable and eases off soon after, then you've done the correct amount. So next time you could do the same amount and gradually increase it according to your pain.

If the pain is nearing severe and takes much longer to ease after, then you've probably pushed yourself too hard. Next time reduce the amount of repetitions you do and reassess your pain.

The best way to do these physiotherapy exercises is to set yourself a plan. For example, if your pain allows you to exercise 3 times a day, then write down the times and your pain response after each time. Stick to this plan everyday, and adjust it according to your pain and improvements in stiffness.

Your focus during each exercise should be on the quality of movement. Don't try and get through the repetitions as quickly as possible. You'll lose focus of the proper movement and it won't do you any good. Slow, smooth movements, with your focus strictly on the muscle/joint you're working, are best.



Foot Physiotherapy Exercises

You should do all these exercises with bare feet. Please read about the types of pain before doing these exercises.

  • Write the digits 1-10 with your toes in the air.
  • Sitting on a chair, raise and curl your toes. Progress by picking up a towel off the floor with your toes.
  • Stand on your tip-toes for 5 seconds.
  • Loop a rubber band around both big toes and pull them away from each other for 10 seconds.
  • Roll a golf ball (or rolling pin) with the sole of your foot for about 2 minutes. Make sure the whole of the bottom of your foot has a chance to roll.
  • With your toes pointed, circle your ankles slowly clockwise and anti-clockwise.



Knee Physiotherapy Exercises

Please read about the types of pain before doing these exercises.

  • Quadriceps Contraction - Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. Place your right hand under your right knee. Contract your quads and push your knee down on to your hand and lift your right heel into the air. Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat with left leg.
  • If the above exercise is too hard then start off with a folded pillow under your knee, so the starting position has your knee slightly bent. Then lift your heel up as before, keeping your knee on the pillow.
  • Lying flat on your front with both legs straight. Slowly bend your right knee as much as possible and hold for 5 seconds. Slowly straighten your knee back to the starting position and repeat with your left knee.
  • Lying on your back with one knee bent up (foot on floor) and the other straight. Lift the straight leg up (about a foot) and hold for 5 seconds. Repeat with the opposite leg.



Back Physiotherapy Exercises

Please read about the types of pain before doing these exercises.

  • Lying on your back with both legs straight. Bring your right knee up towards your chest, holding either your thigh or top of the knee. Hold the stretch for 10 seconds and relax slowly. Repeat with your left leg.
  • Lying on your back with both legs straight. Slide your hip so that the left side goes towards your feet and the right side comes up towards your head. Keep your legs straight and feet relaxed. Repeat with the left side coming up and right side going down.
  • Lying on your back with both knees bent up (feet on floor). Tilt your hip slightly backwards and arch your back. The first movement should lead to the second so don't force the arching. Relax and then tilt your hip forwards, keeping your bottom on the floor. Your lower back should be pushing into the ground.
  • Lying on your front, with your chin resting on the floor, bend your arms so that your hands are resting beside your head with palms on the floor and elbows tucked in next to your body. Slowly lift your head up looking straight ahead, keeping your hips on the floor so that your back arches. Let your arms take all the weight. Slowly relax back down.
  • Standing up tall, keep your legs straight as you bend down, as far as you can towards your feet. Slowly come back up.
  • Standing up with your arms by your side, bend to the right side, sliding your right hand down your leg. Slowly come back up and relax. Then bend to the left side, sliding your left hand down. Slowly come back up and relax.



Shoulder Physiotherapy Exercises

Please read about the types of pain before doing these exercises.

  • Standing or sitting, lift your arm up (as if you wanted to ask a question in a class) keeping it straight in front of you. Take it as far as you can. Repeat with your other arm.
  • Standing with your arms by your side, slide the back of your hand up your back, and reach for the opposite shoulder blade. Hold for 10 seconds and slowly relax. Repeat with the other arm.
  • Standing up with both your elbows bent at a right angle. Turn each arm out to your side, making sure your elbows stay tucked against your body the whole time. Hold for 10 seconds and slowly relax.



Neck Physiotherapy Exercises

You should do all these exercises sitting up (i.e. don't slouch) on a hardback chair. Please read about the types of pain before doing these exercises.

  • Keeping your eyes centred, slowly move your head back so you end up looking at the roof. Keep the rest of your body still. Hold for 5 seconds and slowly relax back down.
  • Keeping your eyes centred, slowly move your head down so you end up looking at the floor. Keep the rest of your body still. Hold for 5 seconds and slowly relax back up.
  • Turn your head to the left so you are looking in line with your left shoulder. Go as far as you can and hold for 5 seconds and relax.
  • Turn your head to the right so you are looking in line with your right shoulder. Go as far as you can and hold for 5 seconds and relax.



Final Word

These physiotherapy exercises are intended to be used along with professional care or as preventative measures.

So if you are in pain and have not been treated for it before, then please go and see your medical professional.

If you are not in pain or injured, and just want to do the exercises as part of your everyday routine, then good on you.

If so, I would recommend doing these physiotherapy exercises at least once a week, to stay ahead of the game!

Prevention is always best.


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