Physical Activity is so important that when it is not in your lifestyle you could get chronic disease and even die from lack of movement. The World Health Organisation categorises a lack of physical activity as the forth leading cause of death. Physical activity or movement are different to exercise, which is planned, structured, repetitive and intentional (1). Rehabilitation is another word oft used to signify a return to fitness following injury.
In practicality think of movement like your diet – variety is key. There is no one activity that is best to keep you healthy. However, there may be a better rehabilitation approach if you have been obviously injured.
The BEAM trial showed at 12 months follow up the exercise group did not retain their improvements in pain relief whilst the spinal manipulative therapy (SMT) group did (2). In a more recent study, results showed SMT to be better than rehabilitation (or stabilisation) (3). Chiropractors incorporate SMT first into a Care Plan then if all of the desired changes haven’t been achieved appropriate exercise or rehabilitation can be added in. Lee Wickham incorporates fascial care before SMT.
As part of your Chiropractic Care Plan you can expect to receive physical interventions and advice before exercises are given. Where exercises are required to hold changes in body strength and range of movement they are given as a complement to the physical interventions provided by your Chiropractor as part of Chiropractic Care. Rehabilitative exercise is part of Chiropractic undergraduate training. A Chiropractor is therefore well placed to liaise with personal trainers, coaches, yoga instructors and physical therapists. The special skill of SMT is only delivered by a select few healthcare professionals, meaning the liaising is usually one way.
(1) Gunmelt D. Physical Activity vs Exercise, What is the difference? American Council on Exercise June 3rd 2015.
(2) Underwood M et al. Back Exercise And Manipulation Randomised Trial of Physical Treatments for Back Pain in Primary Care. BMJ (2004) 329 1377
(3) Hough E, Stephenson R and Swift L. A comparison of Manual Therapy and Active Rehabilitation with reference to Psychosocial Factors. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders (2007) 8 106