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The Crucial Role of Physiotherapy in Mental Health

As our awareness of mental health and its importance grows and becomes more vital to improving our quality of care and overall wellness, physiotherapy has become an extremely valuable complementary treatment option.

It adds value and understanding that may be beyond more traditional approaches like medication and counselling. Through physical therapy and tactical exercises, individuals can improve their physical and mental deficiencies or conditions holistically, rather than separately.

Understanding the Link Between Physical and Mental Health

It seems like such an obvious thing to say that physical activity and mental well-being are linked, and yet it’s still worth discussion. The link isn’t always extreme or completely covered in medical journals or professional diagnoses.

An avid runner with an injury may suffer a blow to their general mood and mental well-being when they can’t exercise safely. Reducing your back pain with Pilates exercises doesn’t just make you feel better physically — it takes the stress and anguish out of your daily movements and routines. These periods of mental ‘lows’ as a result of physical pain and actions don’t always need to be diagnosed — they are felt, and they are real.

But thanks to an increasing amount of evidence from the medical industry, the role that physical activity plays to promote and enhance mental well-being is becoming much more widely acknowledged. Professional guidelines for mental health treatment (from institutions like the European Psychiatric Association, for one) state that exercise is a highly suitable treatment for alleviating mental health struggles.

By consulting the aid of an accredited physiotherapist, patients can manage their physical symptoms with evidence-based treatment that also helps with mental health issues. Some examples of common exercises in physiotherapy include:

  • Pacing techniques
  • Controlled breathing
  • Balance exercises
  • Body Weight exercises such as push ups, sits ups or squats

Commonly prescribed by professional physiotherapists, these exercises improve cardiovascular and metabolic systems by increasing energy and endurance. It’s well known that during physical activity and exertion, the body releases endorphins, more generally known as "feel-good" hormones, which, like a good night's sleep, can enhance mood and reduce anxiety and depression.

Physiotherapy Approaches for Mental Health Enhancement

Physiotherapy offers a range of solutions that are undeniably linked to improving mental health issues. As we’ve already covered — and you’re probably well aware by now — exercise is crucial to improving your overall health.

Accredited physiotherapists can tailor physical treatment plans to the patient's condition, abilities, and personal goals. These include exercises designed to enhance movement and strength to improve overall mobility and function whilst reducing the symptoms of severity and frequency. Specific exercises like Pilates, aerobic, stretching, and strength-based workouts won’t just improve your physical health and capabilities — they’ll make you feel good and can reduce anxiety, depression, and other common mental health issues.

Physiotherapy-based exercises are a great place to start in pursuing mental health healing as these informed exercises and plans provide an initial step in improving the overall quality of life that is safe, effective and can be enjoyed by all ages and fitness levels.

Improving the Integration of Mental Health in Physiotherapy

All of this means nothing if people don’t have access to professional mental health physiotherapy services. Bringing awareness by educating individuals and healthcare professionals about the effectiveness of physiotherapy interventions can help foster a greater understanding of the value of this approach.

There are so many positive outcomes and success stories that link mental health with physiotherapy — not to mention academic and scientific studies — that should be talked about, so more people may feel encouraged to seek helpful therapeutic services as part of their journey to mental and physical wellness.

What’s Next for Physiotherapy and Mental Health?

By understanding the link between physiotherapy and its potential benefits toward improving mental health deficiencies, we take a great step in improving the benefits of addressing physical and mental well-being through physiotherapeutic treatment. Although it may be traditionally considered unconventional, its effectiveness in treating mental health conditions is growing more understood and accepted.

At NQ Physio, we pride ourselves on not just providing physical therapy, but personalised care with planned and proven approaches that can improve our patients’ mental health alongside the physical. If you’re looking for a comprehensive and holistic approach to mental and physical health treatments, why not get in touch? From general physiotherapy exercises to hydrotherapy, Pilates, and dry needling, we’re sure we can find the right treatment for you — and your mental health.

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