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Specific Exercises

"Specific exercises are an essential part of any successful treatment approach"

Some of you may not know anything about specific exercises.  Some of you may have been given exercises in the past by a doctor or physio but didn't find them helpful.  The fact of the matter is that specific exercises are exactly that....Specific. 


They must be the right exercises for your problem and done at the right time in order for them to be a successful part of treatment.

To be successful, treatment must achieve the objectives that you want.

For most people the first goal is to get out of pain and get back to doing what they want to do as quickly as possible.  This is really Stage 1 of the process however.  Once you achieve this, the next goal becomes how do you try to stop symptoms coming back again.

To achieve this second goal we often have to change something,  whether it be strengthening muscles, controlling movement or reducing stiffness.  Unless we change something it is very likely that the same problems will keep happening and one of the best ways that we can do this is with specific exercises.

"If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got!"

Henry Ford 

'Hands on' treatment can be brilliant at helping reduce pain, reduce 'stiffness' and make you feel so much better.  But its effects are usually only short term.

Specific exercises allow you to make the changes that your body needs to work better and

help prevent your symptoms coming back.  They allow you to be PROACTIVE when dealing with your symptoms rather than just REACTIVE.

So what makes exercises specific and why is it so important?

Exercises are specific if they are prescribed just for you to achieve a specific objective.


When we are in pain, we all know someone who will helpfully suggest an exercise that worked for them.  We often look on YouTube for exercises that may help us.  The truth is however that what works for one person may not work for another and in some cases can make things much worse.

Consider this example...

A problem that we see a lot of is someone complaining of recurrent hamstring muscle strains and 'tight' hamstrings. While this may be a shortened muscle problem, it may also be an 'overactive' muscle or even a muscle guarding an irritated sciatic nerve.  


The best exercise in the first scenario for the short muscle is probably

going to be a hamstring stretch.  

This exercise however will be ineffective in the second scenario if the

hamstring is 'overactive' because the muscle is working too hard to

compensate or underactive gluteal(buttock) muscles.  The correct

approach here may be to do exercises designed to fire up the 

underachieve gluteals so that the hamstrings have to work less hard. 


                        The correct exercise would look something like this....                                             

In the third scenario of a nerve irritation, the hamstring stretch can actually makes things WORSE, as it can irritate the sciatic nerve even more!

This is why getting a complete assessment so that your exercises are designed for you is essential if you are going to get the most out of them.

The Best advice....?

1.  Get a really good assessment of your problem BEFORE you start trying lots of different exercises to help your symptoms so that you are not going to be ineffective or in the worse case scenario, makes things a lot more painful.

2.  Make sure in any treatment approach, whether it is from a Physiotherapist, a Chiropractor or an Osteopath, that you have specific exercises in your treatment programme and you know exactly why you are doing them and what you are trying to achieve.

"I just wanted to say a massive thank you to Justin for helping my recovery and enabling me to achieve my goals! When I saw you last year after having an operation to repair my broken shoulder I didn't think I would ever be able to row to the same standard.  


This weekend we competed in the '30th Great River Race' along the River Thames. We completed the 21.6 mile course in a great time and the shoulder held out well with no pain. Every month it's getting stronger.  Thank you so much. "

Kim G
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