7 Physiotherapy Exercises You Can Do at Home
Many people who have neck pain turn to Chiro’s and Osteo’s but they tend to swing more towards the profession that acts in line with the evidence and that is Physiotherapy.
Physiotherapy is health care that promotes movement and physical function and maximizes an individual’s potential through exercise, education, manual therapy and lifestyle management. While there are exercises you can do on your own, nothing beats the tailored physiotherapy plans in Hervey Bay.
1. Knee-to-Chest Stretch
Whether it’s from sitting all day at work or sleeping in the same position all night, many people wake up with an achy lower back. Keeping your muscles, joints and ligaments loose and flexible with simple stretches can help ease the pain and prevent further injury in the future.
One of the best and most effective exercises you can do at home is the knees-to-chest stretch. It’s simple and safe and targets the muscles in your hips, lower back, and buttocks. This gentle movement helps to stretch and relax the erector spinae, latissimus dorsi, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus muscles, as well as the thoracolumbar fascia.
You can do this exercise by lying down on your back and gently pulling both of your knees toward (you guessed it) your chest. If your knees are too tight or have reduced range of motion to allow you to do this, then start out with stretching only one leg at a time. With continued practice, you should be able to bring both of your knees to your chest.
You can also hold this pose by putting your hand or hands below the knee area or on top of the knee (to deepen the stretch). Keep in mind, you should not force this exercise, especially if you have knee or hip pain.
2. Hamstring Stretch with a Belt
Tight hamstrings are an common source of lower back pain and can reduce the range of motion in your hips and knees, increasing the likelihood of injury. To avoid this, it is essential to include hamstring stretches in your weekly workout routine.
A hamstring stretch can be done from either a standing or lying position. If you have a low back problem, it is advisable to perform the exercise from a standing position to prevent strain on your back.
Begin by standing straight with one leg extended out in front of you. Keep the supporting leg straight and bend from the waist, extending forward until you feel a stretch in your hamstring behind your thigh. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and return to your starting position.
The one-legged standing hamstring stretch is a great exercise to do anywhere, including at home or at the gym. You can also use a chair or bench if you wish. The ultimate goal of this hamstring stretch is to reach your foot to the floor and touch your toes, but it may not be possible for everyone to get to this point. This exercise is best performed before your workout to help warm the muscles up.
3. Knee-to-Knee Stretch
The Knee-to-Knee Stretch helps to strengthen and support the knee by stretching the muscles that connect to it. These muscles include the hips, glutes, hamstrings, calves and quadriceps. “If one of those muscles is weak or tight, it can affect the other,” a physical therapist at Bespoke Treatments tells SELF. This is why it’s important to incorporate strength-training exercises like this into a fitness regimen.
The exercise starts with a person lying on their back, supporting themselves with a blanket or a chair. They then bend the knee of the opposite leg, pulling it toward their chest and grabbing it with both hands (A). Then they straighten the leg, pulling it up to their chest and exhaling as they do so (B). A person can repeat this exercise with both legs for a set of reps and increase the number of repetitions over time.
Performing this and other exercises like it can help to reduce knee pain by strengthening and improving the flexibility of the muscles and joints around the knee. But a person should consult their doctor or physical therapist before trying new exercises and if they experience knee pain while doing them, stop.
4. Ankle-to-Toe Stretch
This exercise strengthens the ankle in unusual positions and increases your foot mobility while bearing weight, which taxes the ankle in a way that’s similar to running. It also helps to relieve pain in the big toe that often occurs when wearing tight shoes.
Stand a few feet away from a wall or other support and place one leg in back with the heel flat against the floor, then gently twist the ankle on that side toward your body to feel a stretch in the bottom of the foot and the ankle. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times.
Cross your left ankle over your right knee, then move the foot and ankle slowly in circles to the left and then to the right. For a fun variation, try drawing the alphabet in the air with your foot leading with the big toe. For both directions, complete 10 circles on each foot.
Sit with a rolled towel or cylindrical object, like a soda can or water bottle, under the arch of your foot and exert light pressure to roll it back and forth, and then up and down for a minute or two. This strengthens and stretches the arch of the foot.
5. Buttock Stretch
Spending a lot of time sitting can leave your butt feeling tight and sore. And over time, shortened muscles in the front of your hips can pull your pelvis forward, causing your lower back to arch, Cameron Yuen, physical therapist at Bespoke Treatments in New York City tells SELF. To help combat this, you can do simple stretches at home that will strengthen the hip extensor muscles and keep your butt in the right position.
Sit on the floor and cross your right ankle over your left knee, keeping both legs flexed and stacking them one on top of the other (you can fold your torso to deepen this stretch). Use your arms to gently pull your knee toward your chest until you feel the stretch in your hips and buttocks. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds, then repeat on the other side.
This is a similar stretch to the Pigeon Pose, but it targets the larger glute or buttock muscle instead of the smaller hip flexor muscle. Lie on your back and cross one ankle over the other, then grab the back of the thigh area behind your opposite knee, pulling it straight toward your chest. Repeat three times per day.
6. Knee-to-Knee Stretch with a Swiss Ball
Keeping your muscles and joints flexible is key to reducing knee pain and preventing future injury. Performing gentle stretching exercises after strengthening can help to lengthen the muscle and prevent tightness, while also maintaining knee joint stability.
Lie on your back with your knees bent and place a Swiss exercise ball behind you on the floor, about a foot from your head. Drape your body over the ball to gently stretch your hip flexors and quadriceps, while also challenging your deep core muscles. This is a very relaxing exercise that can also be done while sitting or lying down in bed.
Stand facing a wall or sturdy table with your legs together. Rest a chair against the wall for support. Raise the uninjured leg about 6 to 8 inches off the floor and slowly straighten it until it feels stretched. Hold for a few seconds, then lower the leg and repeat. You can also add light ankle weights to increase resistance if you wish.
While this exercise is beneficial for everyone, it is especially useful for athletes because it helps to strengthen and balance the kneecaps and thighs. It is important to note, however, that if you have hip, shoulder or back pain, this exercise might not be suitable for you. It is also important to remember that you should never perform an exercise that causes pain.
7. Calf Stretch
Stretching the calf muscles is important to help prevent tightness and pain in the Achilles tendon. Performing stretches a few times a day is ideal, and a physical therapist can tell you how long to hold each one for maximum benefit.
Sit on the floor or a bench with both feet stretched out in front of you. Wrap a hand towel around the ball of your right foot, then grab both ends of the towel with your hands. Then, lean back with a flat back, and gently pull the towel to feel a gentle calf stretch. Repeat with the other leg.
Using a stronger resistance band can intensify this exercise and strengthen the calf muscle, which can provide better lower leg, ankle, and foot support while also reducing injury risks. However, it is important to not push past the pain barrier and if you experience new tightness or pain, talk to your physiotherapist.
Stretching is most effective when you warm up before doing it. Attempting to stretch cold can shock your body and increase the likelihood of an injury or strain. To prevent this, try a few short walks or other forms of light cardio to get your heart rate up before stretching.