People have received physiotherapy for over 2,000 years. But do you know what physiotherapy is? 

Physiotherapy can sound quite intimidating if you’re not sure what to expect. But there’s nothing to worry about. 

Keep reading to find out what to expect at your first physiotherapy sessions, and some of the physiotherapy exercises you might learn. 

What Is Physiotherapy? 

Physiotherapy focuses on maximizing your body’s function and movement. It aims to make it as easy and pain-free as possible for you to move. 

Physiotherapists often plan therapeutic exercises. These physiotherapy exercises can help to improve fitness, prevent damage, or recover from an injury. 

If you’re considering physiotherapy, visit to find out more about what’s available. 

Type of Physiotherapy Exercises 

How does a physiotherapist decide what exercises are best for you?

They normally begin by asking you to complete an assessment. This just helps them to understand how you’re feeling and what your body is currently capable of. Your physiotherapist will then be able to design and plan exercises that will be most helpful to you. 

There is a huge range of exercises that your physiotherapist can recommend for you. We’ve put together some examples. 

Education and Advice 

Many physiotherapists treat people by looking at their body as a whole, rather than focusing on one specific area. That’s why they’ll often share education and advice about how to improve or maintain your overall health and wellbeing

They’ll often encourage you to remain active safely and healthily. They might give you advice on moving regularly, and making sure that you carry out your daily tasks in a way that will keep you injury-free.  

Range of Motion Exercises 

Range of motion exercises is usually most helpful and necessary if you’re recovering from an injury. When you’re first injured, you usually need to rest the area. It can also feel uncomfortable and worrying to try to exercise an area that is in pain. Sometimes this can cause stiffness and weakness while the injury heals. 

That’s when a physiotherapist can introduce range of motion exercises to your daily life. These exercises maintain or improve movement in your joints, reduce stiffness, and strengthen muscles.  

These exercises shouldn’t cause too much pain. They’re designed to keep the joints moving without causing further injury. 

The precise exercises will depend on your specific needs. Some examples could include ball rolling, using a skateboard, and wall climbing. 

Stretching Exercises 

Stretching exercises help you to maintain and increase flexibility in your body. Being more flexible means that you’re able to move parts of your body further and more easily. This can help to prevent injuries and pain, improve balance, and increase strength. 

Stretching exercises can be performed on all parts of your body. Regular stretching – without straining muscles – is the best way to gradually increase your flexibility. 

Strengthening Exercises 

These exercises aim to improve your strength in particular areas of your body. It means that your muscles and joints can exert more pressure and bear more weight. 

These types of exercises usually need to be repeated regularly, and over some time, to see results. 

Aerobic Exercises

Aerobic exercises are often known as cardio. It usually increases your heart rate and breathing rate, as aerobic exercises require your heart to pump more oxygenated blood to your muscles. 

These types of exercises can help to improve your fitness, stamina, strength, and overall mobility. They are usually made up of three distinct phases. 


You’ll usually begin with a warm-up. This increases your muscle temperature and helps to prevent injury. It should usually take between 10 to 15 minutes, and slightly raise your heart rate. Examples include slow walking, cycling, or rowing. 

Aerobic Exercise 

You’ll then begin your aerobic exercise. This is the conditioning section of the program. You should challenge yourself physically, but not to a point where you are creating further injuries. 

Continuous exercise is training that is done with minimum rest or breaks. If you are healthy and able, this is a great way to increase physical endurance. 

Interval training involves periods of intense activity, followed by rest periods. This can be a very effective way to improve the power and strength of your body. 

Circuit training is a series of different exercises that are performed without resting in between. Like interval training, this can be a great way to improve your power and strength. 

Cool Down 

It’s important to cool down once you’ve finished your aerobic activity. This helps your muscles and cardiovascular system to recover. It should last a similar amount of time to your warm-up. 

Aquatic Exercises 

Aquatic exercises are done in water. This can be anything from a shallow bowl of water to swimming pools. It depends on your physical needs and what your physiotherapist recommends. 

Being in the water helps your muscles and joints to relax but feel supported. It also provides resistance which helps you to build up your strength. 

Exercise in water can focus on increasing flexibility and strength, or reducing tension. Equipment can also be used to help or challenge you, including rings, buoyancy belts, and hand paddles. 

Mobility Aids 

Your physiotherapist may also offer you mobility aids to help improve your movement and comfort. Some examples include crutches or walking sticks. 

These mobility aids are designed to help you achieve your goals. They can be used temporarily or could be a more long-term addition to your daily life. 

Read More: A Comprehensive Guide on How to Improve Joint Health

Manual Therapy 

Your physiotherapist may discuss exploring manual therapy. This is a different type of treatment that may feel a little more unfamiliar. During manual therapy, your physiotherapist uses their hands to massage, manipulate, and move specific parts of your body. 

Manual therapy can be used to treat a specific area of your body, or your mobility and physical health more generally. It can help to: 

  • Reduce pain
  • Relieve stiffness and increase flexibility
  • Improve circulation
  • Drain fluid
  • Encourage relaxation

Your First Physiotherapy Session 

Beginning physiotherapy can hugely improve your life, health, and wellbeing. Physiotherapy exercises can allow you to move freely, without pain or limitation. Click here if you would like to find out more about physical exercises that help to reduce chronic pain.