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Why is relaxation part of my physiotherapy treatment?

Even before the pandemic happened, many of us led pretty stressful lives. Research has shown that stress, anxiety and depression and other mental health challenges can contribute to delayed recovery from illness or injury.

This is why when you come for a physiotherapy assessment at ProActive Rehab we will ask you to complete some questionnaires relating to your mental health along with those specific to your injury.  If we can identify that stress, anxiety or depression, along with other mental health factors, are concurrent to your injury then we know that we also need to bear those concerns in mind when creating your treatment plan.

Mental health factors can contribute to delayed physical recovery in many ways.  Healing of the injury itself can actually be delayed by the hormones that stress and anxiety produce in the body.  Even when the injury has completely healed our brain can remember the pain and continue to create pain signals to try and protect the area, even if this isn’t actually needed anymore.  Research has shown that those people that have higher levels of stress, anxiety and depression are more at risk of developing chronic pain or decreased physical abilities.  So, it is important that in addition to your injury, we take some time to look at the effects of your mental health on recovery.

When you are in pain or have worries about an injury, it is common to feel tense and stressed.  It could be that you aren’t sleeping as much, either due to pain from the injury or concerns about how the injury may affect what you are able to do.  Tension can be held throughout our bodies, especially in the region of an injury, and lack of sleep is another factor that may delay recovery from an injury.  Physiotherapy is traditionally thought of as an active form of treatment – stretching, strengthening, exercising etc – but research is showing that teaching our bodies to relax and let go of tension is just as important.  

Relaxation can take many forms, it can be as informal as taking a walk out in nature, or sitting in a comfortable position listening to some favourite music.  If you are someone that struggles to relax or gets easily distracted, you may benefit from some guided relaxation such as listening to a meditation, performing a mindfulness programme, or doing a yoga session focusing on breathing and relaxation.

At ProActive Rehab your mental health is just as important to us as your physical health.  We will work with you to ensure that you make the best possible recovery from your injury, and it is very possible that part of your rehabilitation programme will be relaxation.