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Exercise for Rehabilitation

Exercises are often prescribed for patients to help rehabilitate injury and dysfunction, and to prevent recurrence. Patients are, however, notoriously bad for actually performing their exercises and one of the reasons why, is that the purpose of performing the exercises is never explained. Some exercises, especially very gentle ones, often seem pointless to a patient, but have many unseen benefits. This article seeks to explain some of the reasons for performing these exercises.

Encouraging Drainage
Inflammation is the body's non specific response to any form of tissue damage, whether from actual physical injury, or from micro-organisms such as bacteria. The inflammation causes pain, to prevent the individual from further injuring the area while it heals. Exercises engage the pumping mechanisms of muscles to help return blood and lymph from the area, reducing the inflammation, and removing the debris of the injury.

Improved Repair
The improved blood supply and drainage caused by the pumping of muscles ensures new nutrients are brought to the area, improving healing. Exercises also introduce gentle stress patterns to the area. Scar tissue is laid down along these lines of stress, and helps build effective tissue. Otherwise it is laid down in a haphazard fashion, resulting in much weaker scar formation with more likelihood of re-injury.

Retraining the Nervous System
Ligaments and muscles contain nerve receptors for balance and co-ordination. If they are damaged, then so is that nervous mechanism. People who sprain an ankle frequently sprain it again and again, as the pattern of that ankle has not been retrained. Many exercises help retrain the neural patterns of the body, so that proper function is regained.

Strengthening Supporting Muscles
Many joints are protected by ligaments and muscles. If they are damaged, then the strength of the joint itself is compromised. Strengthening exercises help muscles protect a joint so that further injury is less likely.

Maintaining Joint Mobility
Exercise helps maintain the range of motion of a joint, nourishes the joint surfaces which sustains the quality of the joint. Joint surfaces have a poor blood supply and receive much of their nutrition from the fluid in the joint capsule. The pumping action of movement ensures that joint fluid and the nutrients it contains reaches all parts of the joint surface, keeping its smooth cartilage surface healthy.

Hitchin Osteopathic Clinic, Old Park Dental Surgery, 72 Old Park Road, Hitchin, Hertfordshire SG5 2JT 01462 432609