Thanks to successive lockdowns and the inevitable backlog this has created your chances of finding a physio quickly are lower than ever before. While we are not here to provide you with specific physio advice, we thought it would be a good idea to show you some simple physio exercises that you can do at home, to help soothe aches and pains and reduce the likelihood of future injury.
The Importance of Physio
The purpose of this article is to give you a few simple exercises that can help you to prehab against injury, and perhaps leave you feeling fewer aches and pains after a workout or bad night’s sleep.
It is NOT to fix injuries on your own, these exercises are not here to supplant the role of an actual professional physio. If you have a real injury, or constant pain, then seek professional advice. Use these exercises if you are in mostly good condition and want to try and avoid future pain or injury.
Ten Physio Exercises You Can Perform from Home
The following ten physio exercises can all be performed without any specialist equipment. Almost all of them are accessible to anyone (the wall squat and piriformis stretch may be a bit challenging for some), and all focus on improving flexibility or mobility (or both).
Where possible, we will attach a YouTube video link to demonstrate the movement better, as well as a written description.
Exercise #1 Piriformis Stretch
Stand in front of a bench that is above knee height (around mid-thigh). Bring your right ankle up onto the bench so that your leg forms a 90 degree angle, thigh sticking out in front of you. Try to keep your knee close to the bench.
Holding this position will create a stretch on the outside of your glutes and along your hips. Check out this YouTube video by Nick Syett, he demonstrates the technique perfectly.
Exercise #2 Seated Leg Extension
This exercise is not performed on the leg extension machine you find in most gyms, but the movement is similar. Sit on a chair with both feet flat on the ground. Keeping your left leg still, raise your right foot up in the air until your leg is straight and parallel with the floor. Pause, and then return to the ground. Swap legs and repeat.
Exercise #3 Cat Stretch
Get onto all fours and ensure that your shoulder is directly over your wrist. Get yourself a nice straight back by pulling your shoulder blades back. Next, you want to drop your hips forward and push your chest forward.
Then you are going to push your upper back backwards and bring your head down until it is in between your arms. Check out the video for a visual demonstration of this fantastic back exercise.
Exercise #4 Wall Squat
Stand up against a wall bring your feet forward so that you are at an angle. Slide your back down the wall until your glutes and thighs are parallel with the floor. You may need to bring your feet further forward. Hold this position for 30 seconds and then return to the starting position.
Exercise #5 Prone Hip Extension
Lie flat on your front with legs together, rest your head on your arms. Keeping your leg straight, squeeze your glutes and raise your leg up in the air. It won’t travel too far, so don’t force it. Hold that position for two seconds, and then return to the ground. Repeat with other leg.
Exercise #6 Single Knee to Chest
Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Grab one leg, placing your hands behind the knee, and pull the leg towards the chest. Hold it still and straighten the other leg. Hold for a few seconds and then return both legs to starting position. Repeat with other leg.
Exercise #7 Double Knee to Chest
Performed exactly the same as the single knee to chest stretch, but with both legs at the same time.
Exercise #8 Alternating Superman
Lie on your front with your arms straight out in front of you and legs straight behind you. It should look a little bit like Superman flying through the sky. Simultaneously raise your right leg off the ground and your left arm. Hold this position for 2-5 seconds, and then return to the starting position. Swap legs and arms and repeat.
Exercise #9 Glute Bridge
Lie on your back with feet flat on the floor and knees bent. You want a small arch in your lower back. Squeeze your glutes and your abs. Push your heels into the floor. Now you want to drive your hips forward and squeeze your glutes tight, until there is a nice straight line from your knees to your torso. Hold that position, then lower your hips back down again.
Exercise #10 Calf Raises
Find a step, ideally with a wall or rail to hold onto beside it. Stand on the step so that your heels are hanging off it, have enough of your heels hanging off so that you need to hold onto a wall or railing for balance.
Slowly lower your heels down towards the ground. Pause for 2-5 seconds, and then rise back up again. Keep raising your heels up until you are on your tiptoes. Pause at the top of the movement for 2-5 seconds and then return to the starting position.
This exercise can also be performed while holding a dumbbell in one hand, as this video demonstrates.