The effect of physiotherapy on mental health

Physiotherapy and mental health

You know what they say: ‘healthy body, healthy mind’. As with most age old proverbs, there is of course some great wisdom behind this particular nugget. Modern healthcare professionals acknowledge the need to treat patients holistically, taking care of their physical and emotional needs, and how their lifestyle also impacts on their mental health. But what is the role of physiotherapy in mental health? As the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists say on their website: ‘Physiotherapists use a person centred approach, taking account of physical, emotional and social needs’.

It is foolish to think of the body and mind as distinct, with physical problems being entirely separate from a patients’ mental health. What helps us feel better in our bodies can also have a knock on effect on boosting our mood, either because we’ve overcome a negative thought pattern about our bodies, or because movement and exercise can boost levels of feel-good hormones. For many people, the symptoms of mental health problems are physical as well as thought-centred, so physiotherapy can help bring about relief for these too.


Two birds, one stone

Physiotherapists aren’t just for knees and backs, they can work wonders for people struggling with lung conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Professionals will recommend a range of techniques to help people with COPD control their breathing and reduce breathlessness. Some examples include:

  • relaxed slow deep breathing: breathe in gently through your nose and breathe out through your nose and mouth. Try to feel relaxed and calm each time you breathe out.
  • pursed-lips breathing: breathe in gently through your nose and breathe out with your lips pursed as if you are whistling.

Some of these same techniques to help improve breathing in sufferers of COPD, are also increasingly part of mindfulness-based therapies used to help improve mental health conditions like anxiety and depression. Focusing the mind on the body and breathing, away from negative and spiralling thoughts, has been shown to help improve mental health and boost mood.   


Getting better boosts confidence


Being stuck on the sofa or in bed can be a pretty massive mood killer, because our physical capabilities can affect how we feel about ourselves, and we can become depressed. Our confidence and self-esteem can take a big hit if we get injured or sick and can’t do the things we’re used to doing. It’s well known that something as simple as getting outside for some fresh air can help improve how you feel in yourself. The role of physiotherapy in mental health could be as simple in enabling you to have the confidence to get moving again.

A case study of an elderly woman who saw a physiotherapist to help her get used to tracheostomy care at home reported that, ‘by the end of her period of reablement her confidence had grown and she was managing enjoyable walks in the park’. By helping patients to overcome physical challenges and restore movement, physiotherapists can help boost their self-esteem and confidence. We all know how empowering it can be to run another mile or do ten more sit-ups, but when injured or ill, this empowerment can come from simply being able to get out of bed.


Movement boosts mood

‘We all know that being physically active is good for our bodies. But our physical health and mental health are closely linked – so physical activity can be very beneficial for our mental health and wellbeing too.’

Mind’s website has an entire section dedicated to how movement and exercise can be beneficial for helping with mental health problems. It makes sense that the role of physiotherapy in mental health in this sense is in boosting movement. It’s no surprise then that more people are embarking upon exercise regimes to help boost their mood. But going too fast too soon and overdoing it, can often lead to injuries which can be all the more disheartening when you’re trying to overcome feeling depressed.

Physiotherapists specialising in musculoskeletal therapies can help to rehabilitate problems with muscles and joints, and recommend a course of exercises that will help with recovery. They can get you back out on the track and also advise on the best ways to feel the benefit of exercise without pushing your body too far.  


Prioritising self-care

These days, a lot of us are burning the candle at both ends, working long hours at a desk and not resting enough in our free time, which can lead to stress. On top of that a lot of people are developing back problems from being sat in one position all day. A busy schedule might mean you don’t feel like you have time to seek treatment if you develop backache, and you might soldier on with sore muscles. All of this can lead to increased levels of stress and low mood at work and beyond. Physiotherapists can help address the soreness and relieve some stress. 

The good news is that you can get help with your aches and pains without even having to leave the office and rearrange your schedule. Book an at-work appointment with a Qured physiotherapist and the positive effects of physiotherapy on your mental health could be felt within hours, all from the workplace. Physiotherapists will look at your whole situation and can help suggest solutions that will get you feeling better, from your muscles to your mind.          

For help cultivating a healthy body and healthy mind, the role of physiotherapy in mental health cannot be overstated. Our team of qualified physiotherapists cover a wide range of specialisms and can be with you in a couple of hours, wherever you are in Greater London.