What is a Group Physiotherapy Class?

A group physiotherapy class is an exercise class led by a physiotherapist. These classes are small group classes with each person doing their own individualised exercise program. These classes are claimable on most private health funds extras cover under group consultations.

Who is group physiotherapy for?

Group physiotherapy is suitable for anyone from someone with chronic low back pain to a worker wanting to prevent further injuries to an office worker wanting a more permanent solution to back and neck pains.

Group physiotherapy is often seen as the missing link for a patient who is recovering from an injury. Once their acute symptoms have settled and they have mastered basic movement patterns and strength exercises a group class is a great way to ensure they continue to do the right exercises with the right form and the right intensity. This can either be done on an ongoing basis to ensure continued improvements or in order to get you fit and strong enough to join your friends in the gym, pilates class or on the sporting field.

When can I start a group physiotherapy class?

The timing for starting strengthening exercises post-injury depends on the type and severity of the injury, as well as the recommendations of your healthcare provider or physiotherapist. It is essential the physiotherapist has a good understanding of your condition and your stage of healing so that they can adjust the exercises specifically for you. Here are some general guidelines for starting strengthening exercises after an injury:

  1. Acute phase: During the acute phase immediately after injury, the focus should be on rest, pain management, and reducing inflammation. Gentle range of motion exercises may be prescribed to prevent stiffness, but vigorous strengthening exercises are usually avoided in this phase. This stage is best for traditional Physiotherapy with bracing/taping, manual therapy, massage, mobilisations, dry needling or acupuncture. Simple stretching or movement based type exercises are more suitable at this point of the treatment cycle or you may even be prescribed rest to allow your symptoms to settle.
  2. Subacute Phase: As the injury starts healing, you may progress to more active rehabilitation exercises. Your physiotherapist will guide you through specific exercises designed to promote healing and regain mobility without putting excessive stress on the injured area.
  3. Gradual progression: Strengthening exercises such as core stability type exercises or movement pattern retraining are typically introduced at this point. These can start very easily exerting little pressure on the injured areas but can be progressed quickly as you improve. Around this time is when your physiotherapist will suggest a group based exercise class to help you to continue to improve.

What is the benefit of a physiotherapist led exercise class?

The main benefit of a physiotherapist lead exercise class is that the Physiotherapist is able to diagnose. Because they are able to diagnose injuries, conditions and disorder they are able to go to the root cause of your injury, peel back the layers of the onion so to speak to identify what factors may be contributing to your previous injuries or irritations. Traditional Physiotherapy has focused on the acute phase of healing, where you would have received passive hands on type treatments and given realatively easy exercises to do. Because the physiotherapist has gone through this process with you they are in the ideal position to progress you by increasing your load. If on the occasion that you happen to over do it and you aggravate your injury your physiotherapist will be able to address this immediately and catch a niggle before it flares up instead of the “wait and see approach”.

Are the exercise classes clinical pilates?

While we don’t like to limit ourselves to only Pilates based exercises during your classes we recognise the important role these exercises can play in your recovery. Our physiotherapists are all trained in clinical Pilates and as our gymnasium includes a Reformer, a Caddilac and Wunda Chair as well as numerous other pieces of Pilates equipment we are able to utilise the benefits of Pilates in your treatments.

Clinical Pilates is fantastic for;

  • Improving core strength and stability
  • Enhancing flexibility and range of motion
  • Correcting muscular imbalances
  • Improving your posture
  • Low level exercise with minimal risk of injury
  • Able to customise the exercises to suit you

Other that Pilates what exercises to you incorporate into your classes?

What exercises get incorporated into your program are dependent on your condition. If you are particularly stiff, sore or restricted you may find you get prescribed more mobility type exercises such as foam rolling, trigger pointing or stretching. If you are struggling with stability or you are hypermobile then you will be given more stability type exercises. If you are struggling with pain then you may be given lower level exercises. Before you progress to strength based exercises we will ensure your technique is safe for you to do so. If it’s not quite there yet you will be given exercises to ensure you are able to safely handle the heavier weights when you may progress to them. If you have progressed beyond these exercises then you may want to progress to more strength based movements to continue your improvements.

How can strength based exercises help me?

The basis of strength training is tissue overload and recovery. Lifting weights above what you would in your day to day life stimulates your muscles to adapt and become stronger. This adaptation occurs during rest days and overtime results in you getting stronger. Once you have gained good core control and you have a decent technique it becomes safer to overload your body with weights. As the weights are increased the risk of injury becomes higher, however with careful programming of overload and recovery combined with good form it can be very beneficial. The physiotherapist will adjust your program to either strengthen the affected area or strengthen other muscles to take the pressure off certain areas such as your lower back. Part of strength training is also learning how to move correctly so that when you do have to lift something heavy then movement is more natural with improved leverage, which will reduce the force on the affected area and results in making the task much easier to do.

Uses for strength training include;

  • Recovery from a muscular strain or tear
  • Improved stability when doing higher risk activities such as moving heavy furniture or pot plants
  • Improved joint stability
  • Improving strength and muscular endurance
  • Improving muscular imbalances
  • Preventing future injury
  • Return to sport, work or hobbies

Can I go straight to an exercise class without an assessment?

Unfortunately not, because these classes are healthfund rebatable we are required to do an initial assessment to ensure the class is right for you. This also allows us to understand your conditions, your history and your goals to tailor a program specifically for you. We find this give you much better outcomes compared to giving everyone the same generic exercise program.

Group exercises classes will benefit:

  • People with poor core stability

  • Those who experience repeated injuries

  • Wanting to return to sports

  • Wanting to return to work

  • Correcting your form

  • Making you accountable

  • Modifying your technique

  • Adjusting your exercises to suit your injuries

  • Tight muscles
  • Ankle pain
  • Knee pain

Every treatment comes with the risk and during a group exercise class there can be a risk of aggravating your injury or condition. It is important to speak to your physiotherapist while exercising if something doesn’t feel right and they can modify your exercise accordingly. You may also experience DOMS or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness after your workout, typically 24-48hrs post workout. While you may feel DOMS after a workout it is not essential or necessary to make progress. If you become quite sore after your group exercise class, speak to your physiotherapist and they will adjust your program accordingly.

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