Taking your health into your own hands

It is important for us to manage our health in order to maximise our wellness and perform our best.

With so many health providers and services helping to achieve this, how do we know who to see, and when? Should you wait until something doesn’t feel right, or is prevention the best medicine?

In this feature Michael, a Medibank member, visits a physiotherapist and exercise physiologist and describes his experience managing his health. We also asked the health professionals he visited to tell us about their roles and how they help people achieve better health.

Physiotherapist: Peter Vitale

essendonphysiogroup.com.au

The role of a Physiotherapist:

Physiotherapists use a range of treatment techniques to help people recover from injury, maintain an active lifestyle and improve quality of life. They do this by speeding up the healing process as well as restoring and maintaining normal human movement and mobility.

Common conditions treated by a physiotherapist include:

Back pain

Muscle strains

Neck pain & headaches

Knee & shoulder injuries

Tendinitis

Ankle sprains

Tennis elbow

Postural conditions

Arthritis

Sciatica

Physiotherapists also specialise in the prevention of injuries through postural assessments, pre-exercise physical screenings and education regarding activity modification.

Exercise Physiologist: Nicole French

exerciserehab.com.au

The role of an Exercise Physiologist:

Accredited Exercise Physiologists (AEPs) specialise in clinical exercise interventions for people at high risk of developing, or with existing, chronic and complex medical conditions and injuries. These interventions are provided by exercise delivery including health and physical activity education, advice and support; and lifestyle modification with a strong focus on achieving behavioural change.

Exercise Physiologists most commonly assist people that present with the following problems:

Diabetes and Pre Diabetes

Cardiovascular Disease

Musculoskeletal Injury

Arthritis

Obesity

Cancer

Depression

Osteoporosis

Dysmetabolic Syndrome

Back and Neck Pain

Occupational Injury

Chronic Respiratory Disease and Asthma

Here Michael shares his experience:

Why did you see the physiotherapist and exercise physiologist?

I experience neck and upper back problems from sitting at a desk all day and I decided to seek treatment. Headaches, neck pain and poor posture are symptoms of my desk-bound lifestyle and they had begun to inhibit my ability to exercise daily. My intention in seeing a physiotherapist and exercise physiologist was to look at some long-term strategies and techniques I could apply to improve my posture to maintain a pain-free life. Analysing and improving technique for an athlete is common, but I thought I needed someone to really pick apart the way I go about my everyday professional life to look at the cause of my issues and where changes could be made.

What treatment was involved?

The physiotherapist initially checked my posture and range of movement. He tested my ability to turn to either side and the stiffness in my neck. He then massaged my neck and upper back before providing treatment and manipulation to improve the area. Finally, he applied tape in a large X on my back to improve my posture, which was designed as a temporary measure to help me learn the correct sitting and standing position. The exercise physiologist asked questions about my job and how my desk is set up. We then went into an exercise room with gym equipment where I was shown some exercises and stretches that were specifically designed for someone with my issues. This was excellent as, in the past, the other allied health professionals did not give me what I felt were solutions unique to my situation and rather a set of generic exercises and stretches.

What did you learn?

I learnt the correct way to sit and how the slightest change in posture can result in chronic injuries. The X tape on my back was amazing as it helped improve my posture as it gripped and tightened every time I slouched to make me aware of how often I forget to maintain correct posture. Mostly I learned that seeking any kind of treatment after an injury occurs is not the best method – regular maintenance and exercises to prevent injuries is a much better approach. I also learnt that improvements can be made at work using everyday items and your desk. You can get better at your desk in your work clothes every day, fitness and a healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to be achieved at the gym.

Take a quick health check with our free online waist to hip ratio calculator.

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