Look after yourself as well as your patients

Three simple exercises a physiotherapist should do during their work day

Physiotherapy as a profession can be very demanding. Whether you work in the cardiorespiratory field, neurological or the musculoskeletal area, every physiotherapist can agree that the job can be tiring at the end of the day. After an 8 hour day or more, mostly standing on your feet, the body can feel quite tired. One must remember that we are mostly flexed forward which puts a lot of stress on the muscles and joints. Typically, the chin pokes forward, the thoracic spine shows increased kyphosis and the lower back starts to flex forward. I am a big believer of these 3 exercises and I do them daily as part of my work routine every few hours.

The shoulder squeeze.

This exercise basically involves keeping the elbow straight (or bent) and squeezing the shoulder blades gently together. This allows activation of the posterior muscles of the shoulder, thoracic extension and also activates the scapular stabilizers. All in all, it prevents thoracic kyphosis and allows good thoracic mobility. I hold the squeeze for 5 seconds and repeat it 5 times every hour.

The chin tuck

The second exercise is what physiotherapists know as chin retractions. This is in simple terms tucking your chin back as to produce a double chin. This helps to activate the deep neck flexors when done properly, small muscles in the neck that tend to shut down in neck pain. This exercise also helps to improve the extension patterns of the spine which allows better disc mobility.

Lumbar extension

Keeping with the exercise above, lumbar extension is another exercise I have incorporated daily. The constant standing and flexed postures cause increased pressure on the lumbar disks. Extension positions whether in standing or lying help to improve hydration in disks.

Our job can involve being in a prolonged bent position. Whether it involves helping a patient with a transfer, working on soft tissue release or teaching a patient how to cough, these bent positions can cause postural problems and pressure on disks. The above exercises can help with postural dysfunctions and have helped me in the past years.

I recommend them to physiotherapists but remember to consult your physiotherapist if you are in pain or any of these exercises cause you discomfort :)


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