What is Physiotherapy?

Physiotherapy is a natural healing process that uses special training units and external stimuli to treat disturbed body functions. Even if physiotherapy has a wide range of treatments, it is largely used for diseases and injuries to the spine and joints. Physiotherapy treatment can be a supplement or alternative to medication or surgery.

Treatment by a physiotherapist always takes place as directed by a doctor. The goals are pain relief, stimulation of blood circulation and metabolism as well as improvement of strength, endurance, coordination and mobility. Muscular tension, blockages and imbalances are active (patient moves under its own power), pas-is-vet (physical therapy lead the patient’s movements) or resistive(Patient exerts counter pressure against a device or water) Exercises significantly improved. The basis of action is the adaptation mechanisms of the human body. Tendons, ligaments, muscles and fasciae “get used” to a new correct position through repeated sequences of movements. The performance of the organism can thereby be increased.

Another pillar of physiotherapy is instructions for self-help. The patient is taught special techniques that they can easily imitate at home. In addition to the treatment in a practice, it is essential to train yourself regularly in order to achieve faster therapeutic success.

Physiotherapy is carried out as an inpatient in curative medicine in hospitals or for rehabilitation in an outpatient practice. Patients who suffer from restricted mobility have the option of mobile treatment, where they can train in a relaxed manner in their home environment.

Conceptual demarcation

Physiotherapy is often confused with the term physiotherapy.

While this is not completely wrong, but: The crane-ken-gym-nas-tik and physical The-ra-pie are the two pillars of physiotherapy. Physiotherapy is therefore to be seen as a kind of umbrella term for various methods

The Manual The-ra-pie in turn is a special variant of physiotherapy. Both areas can be assigned to the term movement therapy .

Physical therapy

This sub-area of physiotherapy is a treatment with physical means or external stimuli that are intended to cause a specific body reaction. Physical therapy is mostly used as a supplement to exercise therapy and enhances the positive effects of the same. In addition to physiotherapists, pure physical therapy can also be carried out by masseurs.

The various methods include the following forms of therapy:

Massage therapy

To relieve tension and pain, physical therapists often apply additional massages to their patients. These can be divided into three areas: The classic Mas-as-ge serves primarily to loosen hardened muscles and increase blood circulation. The focus is mainly on the back and neck. The reflex-zo-NEN-mas-sa-ge based on the assumption that is connected from the outside areas stimulated by nerve strands with internal organs. Applications such as foot reflexology and connective tissue massage should also help with gastrointestinal complaints, for example. A special form of massage is that Lymphatic drainage. Fixed manual “strokes” promote the removal of excess lymph fluid. After knee surgery, for example, lymphatic drainage can reduce swelling and pain.


Balneotherapy is the beneficial effect of baths, drinking cures and inhalation. In addition to the soothing warmth of the baths, the substances dissolved in them (carbonic acid, carbon dioxide, iodine, sulfur, magnesium, iron) have a positive effect on many ailments. Especially with rheumatic diseases and skin diseases ( Neu-ro-the-mi-tis ) the bathrooms therapy may help. Baths in mud or algae are also used. In inhalation therapy, drugs or solutions (chamomile, table salt) are added to water vapor and the patient breathes in. So occurs mainly in respiratory diseases such as asthma or Muko-vis zi-do-se an improvement of symptoms.


Hydrotherapy is closely related to balneotherapy. The physiotherapist uses warm and cold water (usually alternating) as a remedy. The Kneipp baths, in which patients wade through cold water, are particularly well-known. This strengthens the cardiovascular system and the veins. Furthermore, in hydrotherapy, pourings and wraps are used.


Thermotherapy includes heat and cold therapy. In heat therapy, muscles, joints and bones are heated with the help of wraps, baths, hot air, fango packs or an ultrasound device in order to increase blood circulation and relieve tension. The K├Ąl-te-the-ra-pie in turn works with cold air, ice compresses or cold chambers. These applications are particularly suitable for sports injuries and swelling.


Physiotherapists use low-frequency stimulation currents or medium-frequency alternating currents to activate certain healing processes in the body. Current impulses cause the muscles to contract and can therefore help with paralysis or weakened muscles. Electrotherapy is also used in the treatment of tinnitus and urinary incontinence.


Heliotherapy, also known as light therapy, describes treatment with solar radiation (UVB radiation). One of the goals is to increase the vitamin D level in the blood. The treatment is carried out in the fresh air with skimpy clothing. Alternatively, artificial light is used in bad weather. Areas of application are skin diseases, osteoporosis and seasonal depression. The required light dose should be discussed with a doctor beforehand in order to avoid sunburn. A break of weeks or even months should be observed after a series of radiation treatments.


Physiotherapy is probably the best known and most prescribed form of physiotherapy, which is why the two terms are often used synonymously. In contrast to physical therapy, physiotherapy is part of exercise therapy. In most cases, the patients actively participate in the training or the physiotherapist assists. Exercises with equipment such as a ball or tape are also used. Physiotherapy can be customized for many different complaints, but is mainly used for imbalances in the spine, broken bones, sports injuries, amputations and after accidents or strokes. In combination with physical therapy, the success of the treatment can be maximized.

Manual therapy

While the patient actively participates in physiotherapy, he remains passive in manual therapy. The manual therapist feels blockages, tension and misalignments with his hands and removes them with special mobilization techniques and hand movements. This is based on pressure and stretching. The aim is to restore a perfect interaction between joints, muscles and nerves.

In the Mobi-li-sa-ti-on the therapist repeatedly performs a movement with which the freedom of movement of a joint is continuously expanded. When Mani-pu-la-ti-on a small and fast movement with the corresponding body part is performed to increase the functionality. The Fine Adjustment tie-tion describes the returning of vertebrae in their correct position. This technique is mostly used for lumbago. The boundaries from manual therapy to chiropractic or osteopathy are often blurred.

Manual therapy has nothing to do with massage and requires several years of training. A physiotherapist who is licensed as a physiotherapist has to invest around another 400 hours in additional training in order to obtain approval for manual therapy. Manual therapy should not be used for acute injuries.

Special methods of physiotherapy

Physiotherapy according to Bobath

Physiotherapy according to Bobath is primarily aimed at patients with congenital or acquired neurological damage. This includes people who have had a stroke or newborns with restricted mobility. Certain movements are constantly repeated in order to stimulate the formation of new nerves and synapses.

Physiotherapy according to Schroth

Physiotherapy according to Schroth is particularly suitable for people with scoliosis (deformation of the spine). Certain stretches and strengthening of the muscles are supposed to relieve pain and prevent further deformation. The training aims at a straight and upright posture, which should also be observed in everyday life by those affected.

Physiotherapy according to Vojta

In the Vojta method, conscious pressure on the part of the therapist plays a role. The activated pressure points trigger reflexes, which in turn strengthen the functionality of the muscles.

Physiotherapy on the device

Device-based physiotherapy aims to increase the patient’s strength, endurance and coordination. In addition to balls and ribbons, equipment like those found in the gym is used. This includes strength training equipment, exercise bikes and pulling equipment.

Physiotherapy for CMD

CMD is the abbreviation for craniomandibular dysfunction and describes a misalignment of the jaw. This leads to dysfunction in chewing, headaches, neck pain, teeth grinding and even tinnitus. Special physiotherapy can also help here.

Sports physiotherapy

This procedure is aimed at athletes and their special needs. On the one hand, it’s about minimizing the risk of injury through proper stretching and warming up. In addition to prevention, dealing with existing sports injuries and their healing is also part of this form of therapy.

Respiratory therapy

Breathing exercises are also part of physiotherapy. Patients with asthma or other lung diseases learn how to better perceive their own body and how to specifically strengthen their respiratory muscles. The training should make breathing easier in the long term. This healing method is particularly known from birth preparation courses.

Back training

Back training is suitable for both prevention and rehabilitation of back problems. With procedures that can also be used at home, the back muscles are strengthened, pain is relieved and bad posture is corrected. Back exercises or spinal exercises help maintain and improve your mobility and wellbeing.