What is Physiotherapy?

Maybe your doctor recently recommended physiotherapy for you. However, you’ve never been to a physiotherapist before, and you’re wondering what to expect — and even what a physiotherapist does. 

You might feel nervous and anxious about your upcoming appointment. So, let’s put those worries and nerves to rest. Below, we examine exactly what a physiotherapist does and common questions about physiotherapy. So, what is a physiotherapist? What should you expect? Let’s find out.

What Does a Physiotherapist Do?

A physiotherapist is a licensed healthcare professional. They aim to restore and treat functional and mobility issues, as well as help individuals obtain overall good health and wellness. They further help individuals recover from injury, prevent injury, manage chronic pain conditions, and improve health and fitness.

In Canada, all physiotherapists must register with their regulatory body in the province or territory where they wish to practice. This ensures certain standards are upheld and also that there is a continual improvement in general physiotherapy practices. 

So, what exactly happens when you visit a physiotherapist?

If it’s your first time visiting a physiotherapist, you will fill out any new patient intake forms and undergo an initial assessment. This initial assessment involves tests that help your physiotherapist diagnose your injury or issue, as well as determine areas of improvement.

For instance, if you’ve recently experienced a knee injury, your physio may test leg, knee, and hip strength, as well as your walking gait. Since everything in the body is connected, they might find that there are certain biomechanical patterns in your walking gait that need to be addressed so that you make a full recovery and don’t face future risk of injury.

Generally, from your initial assessment, your physiotherapist can determine what treatment plan is suitable to you and your specific situation. Your treatment plan may include:

Prescribed Exercises

The human body thrives with movement. Once your pain levels allow, your physiotherapist will prescribe stretches or strengthening moves to help you recover and heal. This way you’ll come back stronger than before and be less likely to face the dreaded recurring injury cycle.

Manual Therapy

Manual therapy involves hands-on techniques performed by your therapist. This may include massage techniques, joint manipulation, joint mobilization, traction, trigger point therapy, assisted active range of motion, and more. The exact types of manual therapy used will depend on your specific injury or disorder.


Your physiotherapist is a great resource for all things injury prevention and anything health and fitness related. At your appointments, they will educate you on how to prevent injury from occurring in the future, as well as offer advice regarding how you can improve your general well-being. 

Other Modalities

Some physiotherapists also employ other techniques, such as acupuncture, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), interferential current (IFC), laser, and ultrasound. Depending on your condition, your physiotherapist may use these to further accelerate your healing and recovery.

Does Physiotherapy Hurt?

Physiotherapy should not hurt, and is considered a very safe treatment method. If at any point you feel pain during your appointment, let your physiotherapist know. They will adjust accordingly. 

Additionally, you may feel sore after your initial assessment. This is due to the testing that must take place for your physiotherapist to make a proper diagnosis and determine an appropriate treatment path. 

If your soreness or pain substantially increases or lasts longer than 48-72 hours after your appointment, consult with your doctor. They know you and your health situation the best and can determine the best course of action.

Further, if you feel pain when performing any of the prescribed exercises, ease off or stop altogether. For any exercise, you only want to go to the point before pain. It’s also very important to follow the advice your physiotherapist recommends when it comes to the number of repetitions and sets you should perform for each exercise.

Who Needs Physiotherapy?

Anyone can benefit from physiotherapy — even if you don’t have an injury or pain. 

Physiotherapy is a wonderful preventative mechanism, ensuring your overall health and well-being. They can help you correct any improper movement patterns that might lead to pain or injury, as well as help you condition your body for specific sports or activities.

Physiotherapy is also a great option for those with problems relating to injury, disease, or disability. They can help with:

  • Neck pain
  • Back pain
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Arthritis
  • Pre and post surgery rehab
  • Post amputation recovery
  • Pelvic floor issues, such as those after childbirth
  • Tendonitis
  • Muscle strains
  • Sprains
  • Neuromuscular disorders
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Rhabdomyolysis
  • And more!

You may need a physiotherapist if you experience:

  • Mobility issues
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of muscle strength
  • Pain
  • Issues (non-emergency) with breathing
  • Bladder or bowel control problems
  • Swelling
  • Stiffness
  • Disability
  • A decreased quality of life due to inactivity.

If you’re experiencing any of the above, discuss your options with your doctor and find out if physiotherapy is right for you and your life.

How is Physiotherapy Done?

Physiotherapy is usually practiced in private clinics, hospitals, long-term care facilities, sports clinics or facilities, child development facilities, recreational centres, universities, and more. It’s best performed face-to-face, since this allows manual therapy to be carried out.

Generally, when you visit a physiotherapist, they will adhere to the following sequence:

  • Asking questions about your medical history
  • Assessing and diagnosing your compliant
  • Setting a treatment plan to help you achieve your goals
  • Prescribing exercises and carrying out the treatment plan

The exact number and frequency of sessions depends upon your injury or condition (and sometimes, your health insurance plan and affordability). Typically, your physiotherapist will work within your insurance allowability and your budget. 

For example, if you do not have coverage and only can afford two appointments, your physiotherapist will aim to make the most of this time. Just make sure you communicate your potential barriers with them, so they can plan accordingly.

At Corydon Physiotherapy, our ultimate goal is to help you feel better and lead a life where pain doesn’t stand in your way. Nothing brings us more happiness than seeing our patients improve and progress towards their goals. 

If you’re in pain or feel that you may benefit from physiotherapy, book your appointment today by calling us at (204) 925-0380, emailing us at corydonp@mymts.net, or by using our self-serve online booking system.

Garret Klos, B.Sc, BMR, (PT)
Garret Klos, B.Sc, BMR, (PT)

Garret graduated with his Bachelors of Physical Therapy in 2013 from the University of Manitoba. He has also previously obtained his Bachelor of Science also from the University of Manitoba.

Garret is trained in a variety of Physiotherapy techniques and believes above all that a treatment program should be tailored to the individual.

Garret enjoys staying active through recreational sports and spending time outdoors with his wife to two dogs.

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