During the COVID-19 pandemic, work from home and stay-at-home strategies were adopted worldwide as a precaution to alleviate the spread of the virus. Though the isolation helped curb the spread, it also resulted in a sedentary lifestyle which affected the physical and mental well-being of individuals. Poor ergonomics, lack of physical activities, and high prevalence of poor posture while sitting for hours have resulted in more musculoskeletal disorders during the pandemic.
Musculoskeletal disorders impose a considerable burden on individuals, restricting their activities and causing persistent pain which leads them to rely solely on prescription medications. Such medications for pain are only a temporary relief that masks your symptoms rather than helping you get better. Moreover, frequent use of pain relievers will have adverse effects on your health and may have other harmful side effects as well.
Physiotherapy in Caledonia is a more widely adopted and recognized treatment for a wide range of musculoskeletal conditions and injuries. Physical therapists can help reduce the pain and strengthen your bones, muscles, and soft tissues with efficient treatment, physiotherapy exercises, and more.
But before learning more in-depth about the benefits of physiotherapy, let’s first understand how the COVID-19 pandemic increased musculoskeletal disorders.
How COVID-19 Pandemic Enhanced Musculoskeletal Disorders?
Lockdowns and travel restrictions during the pandemic resulted in reduced physical activities and focused more on activities inside confined spaces. These restrictions augmented sedentary habits among people and both healthy as well as unhealthy individuals suddenly became inactive which led to the development of several kinds of disease. Long-term detraining also reduces the maximal oxygen consumption among people, decreases endurance, and leads to loss of muscle mass and strength, which all results in increased musculoskeletal pain and injuries.
Physical therapy and health outcomes were associated with each other, as noticeable improvements in health were observed when physiotherapy treatments were introduced into the daily routine of patients suffering from musculoskeletal disorders or pain. Physical therapy exercises and treatments under the guidance of professional physiotherapists helped in preserving function, decreasing pain and fatigue among patients, as well as increasing the overall joint flexibility and muscle strength.
Musculoskeletal Physical Therapy
Part of a physiotherapist’s technique to improve musculoskeletal endurance is by initially identifying the weaknesses in patients’ movements that cause them to overcompensate. There are specific physical therapy exercises that will be instructed by specialists to balance the strain on joints and muscles, oftentimes, this is done with the help of special machines or resistance bands.
Physiotherapy exercises that include lunges and squats are also significant in musculoskeletal health as they can play a pivotal role in strengthening the core and lower back. Other low-impact and aerobic exercises are recommended by physiotherapists and will be performed in parallel to physical therapy-based exercises. These exercises will especially adhere to those patients who may not be able to endure high-intensity workouts due to intense musculoskeletal pain. Physiotherapy can not only help overcome musculoskeletal pain but can also produce psychological well-being, enhanced nerve receptors, increased blood circulation, better hormonal response, and several other benefits for the body.
Here are the different physiotherapy exercises and treatments that play an effective role in overcoming musculoskeletal pain.
1. Strength training
Physiotherapy exercises for increasing strength may be the most essential treatment strategies for some disorders such as patellofemoral pain syndrome, tennis elbow, and golf elbow. Based on the intensity of pain or the causes, a physiotherapist will develop a plan that includes everything from basic physiotherapy exercises and aerobic exercises to resistance training, flexibility, and balance exercises. These combinations of exercises can be extremely effective in providing relief from several musculoskeletal conditions such as:
- Shoulder impingement syndrome
- Spinal stenosis
- Herniated nucleus pulposus
- Patellofemoral pain syndrome
- Lumbar sprain
- Adhesive capsulitis
- Golf elbow and tennis elbow
2. Stretching and strengthening exercises
Work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) have become increasingly prevalent worldwide during the last couple of years. Chronic lower back, neck, and shoulder pain, which affects the lumbar spine, were among the most commonly reported MSDs and were caused by prolonged postures as well as overexertion. To overcome such musculoskeletal disorders, physiotherapy-based stretching and strengthening exercises are recommended.
Here are a few benefits of integrating stretching and strengthening physiotherapy exercises.
- The range of movement (ROM) physiotherapy exercises helps maintain or improve the flexibility of your joints and nearby muscles. Exercises can help keep your joints moving properly and ease joint stiffness.
- The strengthening exercises provide stability to your joints, improve your bone health and enhance your overall ability to perform daily tasks.
- Stretching physiotherapy exercises are good for central neuropathic pain and musculoskeletal disorders as well.
- It increases your heart rate and improves the overall health of your cardiovascular system
- Core strengthening exercises are recommended for chronic lower back pain and joint pains
3. Electrical stimulation
Physiotherapists not only focus on exercises but also include other modalities of treatment along with the physical therapy exercises. Neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) is one such treatment that is commonly used in therapy. It helps in evoking contractions in an effort to enhance the rehabilitation of human skeletal muscles. These electrical stimulations can also help in increasing blood circulation to the problem area and physiotherapists will use electrical devices such as TENS (transcutaneous electrical neuromuscular stimulation) machines to relieve the pain.
4. Therapeutic Massage
Therapeutic massage performed by physiotherapists has also been widely adopted to relieve chronic pain caused by musculoskeletal disorders. Moderate to deep massage techniques are performed in this therapy by expert specialists. The application of proper therapeutic massage can help patients reduce their muscle tension, fascia tension, and scar tissue all of which can assist in improved muscle flexibility and injury prevention.
5. Neuromuscular therapy
While performing neuromuscular therapy, physiotherapists often target the root cause of chronic pain by addressing trigger points, and postural, and biochemical issues. A certified physiotherapist applies various degrees of pressure accurately to muscles, tendons, and connective tissue to rebalance the nervous system and release these trigger points. Consistent neuromuscular therapy sessions as instructed by a physiotherapist will allow muscles that are misfiring to relax and help in strengthening the weak muscles.
Physical therapists use electromyographic biofeedback as a therapeutic modality in the treatment of musculoskeletal pain. Biofeedback is capable of providing pain relief for chronic musculoskeletal pain that is caused by cumulative trauma, and it is often proposed as an additional intervention to physical therapy exercise in patellofemoral pain or acute sciatic pain.
In this treatment process, physiotherapists monitor the skeletal muscle contractions using electromyography (EMG) sensors. The feedback result is then assessed by the therapist and based on this information, the physical therapist will advise patients on adjustments in the movement and suggest new exercise routines that can be effective in relaxing the muscles.
Though several countries have overcome the COVID-19 pandemic and returned life to normal, the aftermath of the pandemic, however, continues to leave its mark on the world. Physiotherapy has played a pivotal role in helping patients overcome several health-based issues that restricted their normal day-to-day activities. The ultimate goal of physical therapy treatment is not only to help overcome physical complications, pain, and injuries but also to educate the patient on how healthy living and active exercises can improve health and well-being.