It’s that time of the year again; winter looms, the weather turns cold and we all feel a bit under the weather. What better time is there for NHS Self Care Week?

Running this year from 14 to 20 November, the aim of the annual campaign is to make us all think more about our health and arm ourselves with more knowledge to take care of ourselves.

Petersfield Physio always supports the event, and especially this year, because the theme is health literacy. I’m a firm believer in helping people to take care of their wellbeing through better education and understanding.

Take the Pressure off the NHS

The NHS has good reason to promote this idea. The whole organisation is under huge pressure to provide a service for an expanding and ageing population. Recently, doctors warned about over-diagnosis of every ailment leading to unnecessary and expensive over-treatment.

Yet there’s such a lot we can do to look after ourselves. The next time you’re under the weather or you’ve hurt your back, don’t rush to your GP or A&E department; try asking a chemist or google your nearest physio.

How Physiotherapy can help Before you have a Problem

Physiotherapy plays an important role in helping a community stay more healthy and active and we’re not just for sportspeople wanting to improve performance or get over an injury. We can also help an elderly person get on with their life after a fall or give you advice about a long-term, niggling back pain.

The aims of physiotherapy are to identify the cause of a pain or injury as well as to stimulate the natural healing response and to improve function.

However, once the healing process is underway and you start to feel better, it’s easy to revert to your old routine: driving, work, sitting in front of the TV and your exercise routine, which may have been causing the problem in the first place.

Ideally, once you’ve completed your treatment with a therapist you should take the time to improve your overall wellbeing to better than before it started to decline.

This is where education comes in; an ongoing conversation with your physio, coupled with regular maintenance ‘checks’ can ensure that symptoms don’t return and identify potential new problems before they start to cause pain.

Take Ownership of Your Own Care: 5 Tips

So, in the spirit of education, I’d like to contribute to Self Care Week with some tips from a physio/musculo-skeletal point of view to help you look after your own health a little better:

  • Understand the problem. Find out why you have a problem with your back, knee, shoulder etc and how you can avoid it in the future.
  • Learn from pain. My philosophy is that pain is vital to helping you to help yourself; put it right and prevent problems recurring.
  • Educate yourself. An important part of my treatments because prevention is better than cure; posture correction or minor lifestyle changes can make a huge difference.
  • Take ownership. Be actively involved in your own recovery. That’s why our motto at Petersfield Physio is: “It’s a Joint Process”.
  • Repeat and reinforce. It’s necessary to keep going with your exercises or lifestyle change if you want to maintain healthy muscles and joints. It takes time to break old bad habits and learn good ones.

We all need to take a little more responsibility for our own good health and the first thing that’s needed is knowledge. We should all take advantage of Self Care Week, lift some of the strain off the NHS and find out how we can care for ourselves a bit more.