Self Help

There is much you can do to help yourself, whether or not you are currently seeing a physiotherapist.

Regular Exercise

For most people, keeping mobile and active can help reduce pain and stiffness in joints and speed up recovery. Taking regular exercise is therefore important.You may need advice before starting a new exercise programme.

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Good Posture

Maintaining good posture will help prevent aches and pains. Make sure your computer workstation and driving position are set up correctly for your height, and change positions regularly.

Healthy Weight

Keeping to a healthy weight for your height and build helps avoid placing excess pressure on your joints. This can prevent conditions such as osteoporosis developing, where the bones become thin, weak and susceptible to fracture.

Keep mobile
Keeping active helps reduce stiffness in joints. Even if you are in discomfort, the advice is generally to move the affected joints as much as possible, as this will speed up your recovery. Exercise regularly, following the advice of your GP or physiotherapist. However, after an injury or a long break, ask a physiotherapist to review your exercise programme.
Increase your muscle tone
Classes such as Tai Chi and pilates help strengthen your muscles and core stability. This improves your balance and reduces your risk of falling. If your physiotherapist has given you exercises to strengthen or stretch the muscles, build these into your daily routine, as they will make a big difference to your life. Training with weights can help build muscle strength, but take advice before embarking on a new programme.
Learn about your posture
and find out which activities cause your muscles to tense up. Make sure your workstation and driving position are set correctly for your height, and try to shift positions regularly. Ask your physiotherapist about how to approach repetitive or strenuous tasks in your daily life – for example, heavy lifting or extended hours at the computer. Classes such as yoga and pilates can help you relax and become more aware of your body.
Know your limitations
Spread repetitive or strenuous activities through the day, taking short rests when you need to. If your joints feel hot or swollen, rest them. Learn to recognise the difference between setting yourself a healthy challenge and pushing yourself too hard.
Maintain a healthy weight
Maintaining a body weight within the recommended range will help avoid putting excessive pressure on your joints, and may prevent osteoporosis, which could cause you further problems.
Be creative
Modify any activities that cause you discomfort. For example, if you have sprained your wrist you may need to use the other arm to lift heavy objects for several weeks. If you find a particular daily task difficult, talk to others for ideas, or seek help from a physiotherapist – there may be a way around it.
Use the support available
If you have a specific condition, find out about organisations providing specialist information and services such as factsheets and helplines. If you may experience long-term discomfort, ask your physiotherapist about gadgets and tools to help with specific tasks, such as a walking stick to improve your walking posture, or heat pads to soothe sore muscles.
Don’t ignore minor injuries

After a sprain, remember the rules of RICE and HARM:

Do: Rest, Ice (apply a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a teatowel to the area), Compression (for example, a tubigrip), Elevation
Avoid: Heat, Alcohol, Running (any exercise will exacerbate the swelling), Massage.

Know when to seek help

If you are in severe pain or have had a severe injury or blow to the head, go to the GP or visit your physiotherapist as soon as possible. Some conditions are best treated as soon as possible after the event. If you are using simple pain relief or prescribed medication, follow the instructions on the packet, or ask your GP or pharmacist for advice.

Maintain your overall health and well being

by eating a balanced diet, giving up smoking and drinking alcohol (if any) in moderation.

Stay positive !

Taking a positive attitude and trying to avoid stress will help you to manage any pain and be motivated to maintain a healthy lifestyle as far as possible.