020 3026 7320        
hello@theonlinephysiotherapist.com

BLOG

What does the word Physiotherapy ACTUALLY mean?

Estimated Read time: 2 minutes

Please note: Our articles are not designed to replace medical advice. If you have an injury we highly recommend seeing a qualified health professional. To book an appointment with Tim, or one of The Online Physiotherapy team, please visit our Physio clinic page. We have specialists for each major area of the body, ensuring you receive the best treatment for your injury.

💡 ‘The Executive Summary’

 

1️⃣ By definition ‘PHYSIO’- derives from the Greek term ‘PHUSIS’ meaning ‘NATURE’

-THERAPY’ comes from the Greek word ‘THERAPEIA’, meaning ‘HEALING’. 

 Nature is intrinsic (from within)- ultimately ‘natural’, and healing- well thats the essence of getting better.

2️⃣ It is not quackery or a pseudoscience but very much rooted in research

3️⃣ It is not indicative of physical movements done to you, despite popular belief, and however lovely (or, painful) it feels!

4️⃣ This understanding and paradigm of the root word is mirrored in the evidence. Passive treatments are often no different or less powerful than research-laid advice, activity loading and a precise active-based exercise programme.

5️⃣ If you want recovery, (duh) we must consider Online Physiotherapy as a big part of the future.

 

Introduction: "Physiotherapy means physical stuff done to me, right?"

Now, a lot of us think we know exactly what Physiotherapy is. It is your Physio using Physical movements on you right? Massage, acupuncture, ultrasound, jumping up and down? Right, right? Well… the answer is mostly no.

The more that we look into the root of the word, we understand that there may be some stepping back to be done, and reframing. Join me as we dive into the roots behind the word Physiotherapy.

Let us look at the Greek (the root of most of our words!)

By definition:

➡️  ‘PHYSIO’- derives from the Greek term ‘PHUSIS’ meaning ‘NATURE’

➡️ ‘-THERAPY’ comes from the Greek word ‘THERAPEIA’, meaning ‘HEALING’.

Nature is intrinsic (from within) – ultimately ‘natural’, and healing- well that’s the essence of getting better.

 

Which leads us onto…

Greek root word Physiotherapy

‘Natural Therapy?’ – Is Physiotherapy a PSUEDOSCIENCE?

Quackery or Pseudoscience

In the current context of the term “natural therapy” may be interpreted as Physiotherapy being ‘quackery’, or a pseudoscience rather than evidence based. However, let us be clear. Physiotherapy is an evidence based profession that relies on research to test and retest practices used by Physiotherapists.

 

All that to say, people think Physiotherapy means it is Physical, which means movements completed by a Physio. This is false, but understandable. With poor understanding over the last millenium, of what helps recovery the most, massage, jumping up and down on people and putting needles in people have been mainstream. We love tradition, which is why it’s so difficult to move away from these passive treatments, but if you want recovery, (duh) we must consider Online Physiotherapy as a big part of the future.

Are we ON or OFF-piste?

So Physiotherapy doesn’t mean Physical movements done to me?

 

Very simply, no. We have gone OFF piste both as a profession and as public opinion as to what the root of our profession is. It is using nature itself, i.e the body, natural treatments such as education, advice, knowledge and a deep rooted programme vs needing to do any passive techniques TO it… we have all that we need – we only need a guide to inform and teach us.

 

We are largely speaking of Musculoskeletal medicine, rather than spinal cord injury etc.. and in almost all conditions, passive treatments are not helpful. When evidence-based rehab doesn’t work for you, then ultrasound, acupuncture and others may be considered….although the research for them is pretty poor!

 

 

Evidence is pretty clear of the above truth that it is not passive treatment, and the very essence of the word points to that. Tradition has kept us in the dark ages not allowing the light of evidence to bring us into faster and longer-lasting recovery. I am not saying that some passive treatments are never useful, but they should not be relied upon for sustainable results. For almost all people with an injury, it will not suffice.

Off piste

Do I need to rewrite my mental script of what Physiotherapy is?

Rewire brains understanding of Physiotherapy

 

If you are somebody who believes that;

– you will only achieve recovery through hands-on approach

– evidence and studies should be trusted

– believe in the body being able to heal itself if directed well

….then, yes, your mental script is needing a shift.

 

Evidence is overwhelming in terms of what helps recovery the most, and the root word of Physiotherapy aligns with this, in that it’s the active based treatment, loading management and advice that gets the greatest recovery.

💡 In Conclusion

 

All that to say, people have often thought Physiotherapy means it is Physical, which therefore means movements completed by a Physio. This is false, but completely understandable. With poor understanding over the last millenium, of what helps recovery the most, massage, jumping up and down on people and putting needles in people have been mainstream. We love tradition, which is why it’s so difficult to move away from these passive treatments, but if you want recovery, (duh) we must consider Online Physiotherapy as a big part of the future.

It is important to say that although the majority of injuries are treated as effectively, or more effectively with Online Physiotherapy, there are a comparative small number of injuries and conditions that would benefit more from in-person Physiotherapy – for this we would point you towards.

If you are unsure if you need Physiotherapy, or if Online Physiotherapy can assist you, then we are currently offering a free 15-minute screening call, in which you can book in on the link.  Or, if you need urgent Physio advice and attention then book in below.

Any questions, or thoughts on this blog, we would LOVE to hear from you. Send us a message here.

If you are in pain, or have an injury book yourself in below to start your recovery today!

Share blog via

Instagram
Facebook
WhatsApp
LinkedIn
Email

Join our exclusive mailing list to gain 15% off your first appointment!

Terms and conditions: This cannot be applied with any other offer. This discount is non-transferable and solely for your appointment booking. This is a time limited offer.

Don't leave without a gift.
Join our exclusive mailing list to gain 15% off your first appointment!

Terms and conditions: This cannot be applied with any other offer. This discount is non-transferable and solely for your appointment booking. This is a time limited offer.

Sneak peak video into a slightly different question...

Related blog posts

Start your online physio journey

Whether you’re suffering from aches, sprains and pains, sciatica, a sports injury or an accident, The Online Physiotherapist is here to help. Book your online assessment today.

Follow us on
social networks

KEEP IN TOUCH

The Online Physiotherapist

FOLLOW US

@theonlinephysiotherapist

SUBSCRIBE TO

The Online Physiotherapist

Follow us on
social networks

KEEP IN TOUCH

The Online Physiotherapist

FOLLOW US

@theonlinephysiotherapist

SUBSCRIBE TO

The Online Physiotherapist

Open chat
Scan the code
Hello! 👋
Can we help you?