How to exercise on an injury

Posted on 7 November 2014

Dr Linda Steyn is president of the South African Society of Physiotherapy and is based in Bedfordview, Johannesburg. She explains the role that physiotherapy can play in assisting patients in exercising with an injury and losing weight…

Physiotherapy’s not usually associated with diet and exercise. How can it aid in both weight loss and subsequent weight management, especially for the chronically obese?
Physiotherapists are definitely involved in exercise and weight loss, but not specifically where nutrition is concerned. Exercise and rehabilitation is the cornerstone to physiotherapy intervention. Keep in mind that many overweight people suffer from some lifestyle-related diseases and subsequently need to initiate an exercise programme with clearance from their doctor and exercise under medical guidance.

Physiotherapy is also extremely important for someone in pain wanting to start with an exercise programme. For example someone that wants to start a walking programme, but suffers from knee pain. The physiotherapist will assess the knee and, if the pathology falls within the scope of the practice of physiotherapy, the physio will then treat and rehabilitate the knee, as well as assist the patient in their walking programme. If the pathology requires intervention by a medical practitioner or specialists, the physio will then refer the person on to the relevant practitioner.

In terms of maintaining joint health, is there a pre-exercise, during exercise and post-exercise routine that obese exercisers should perform every time they train?
Joint health depends on joint nutrition and joint nutrition depends on the synovial fluid within the joint. Slow, controlled movements though the entire range of motion of the joint will spread the synovial fluid inside the joint to cover its cartilage. If someone has a sedentary job, they should often get up to move their joints. In terms of exercise, doing large movements in specific body areas that you’re planning exercise can be part of a warm-up session. For example, if you plan a ‘leg session’, large movements of the legs, or an ‘arm session’ should include large movements of the arms etc.

For very unfit, obese people who have never trained before, it might be worth starting with an exercise programme in the water for the first couple of months before they start training on land. The only way for your joints to become strong and healthy is to get them used to the stress of training slowly and to progress slowly, too. If you never subject your joints to a degree of stress, they will never be strong. Your body conditioning should progress in such a way that you never experience more than a 3 or 4/10 pain, where 10/10 pain is the worst pain imaginable, and that pain should never last more than three days. If you experience pain higher than a 5/10 or pain that doesn’t settle in a couple of days, see your physiotherapist.


The information provided in this article was correct at the time of publishing. At Mediclinic we endeavour to provide our patients and readers with accurate and reliable information, which is why we continually review and update our content. However, due to the dynamic nature of clinical information and medicine, some information may from time to time become outdated prior to revision.

Published in Exercise

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