So you decided to head out on the trails for a hike this past weekend to take advantage of the beautiful weather on the unofficial last weekend of summer. Unfortunately, you didn’t see that root ahead, took a spill, and landed on your shoulder. Nearly a week later, it’s still bothersome so you decided you’d better go and see your Physiotherapist. Not surprisingly, they prescribed a few specific exercises and told you, “Trust me!” Why do you need to exercise to get better? Shouldn’t you just rest?
Instead, Physiotherapists use exercise as an effective treatment modality to treat common injuries and ailments. But why does this work? Won’t it make my pain and injury worse?
The coined term to explain this concept is “Mechanotherapy”. Mechanotherapy was first defined in the 1890s as “the employment of mechanical means for the cure of disease”. Unfortunately, mechanotherapy is not being taught as an important biological principle. This is a major failing of today’s education system as physical inactivity is the major public health problem of the 21st century. Some are even saying, “sitting is the new smoking”.
However, in a recent article published by the British Journal of Sports Medicine, the term “Mechanotherapy” has been used to explain how load or mechanical stress (ie. Exercise!) is used as treatment to stimulate tissue repair in tendon, muscle, cartilage, and bone.
Mechanotherapy can be explained as follows. First, the “injury” occurs, causing a small (or large!) amount of tissue damage. That damage then acts as a mechanical trigger or catalyst to initiate your body’s healing response to try repair the tissue. While this is happening, adding load (or exercising!) can help to strengthen the injured area as it heals. Your body adapts to the added load by laying down new tissue, improving the resiliency of the tissue so it can endure more and more stress until finally it is back to its normal state.
This helps to explain why we often prescribe exercise for common injuries such as tendinitis or tendinosis (tendinopathies), muscle tears, arthritis, and even healing fractures.
So what does this mean for you?
If you have any aches or pains – new or old – that just don’t seem to be getting better with basic rest, maybe your body needs some different therapy…maybe some mechanotherapy! Come see us today at Avenue Physiotherapy and we can help guide you through the appropriate mobility or strengthening exercises you need to get back on track!