As most of us are well aware of by now, Mindfulness seems to be the new thing. It’s branches seem to extend to all areas of life; stress reduction, workplace productivity, parenting and health-care. I understand a lot of you might be wondering: what has physiotherapy got to do with Mindfulness? Physiotherapists are beginning to explore mindfulness because of it’s amazing potential for healing!

 

It sounds strange, intangible and dubious. In fact, from some people, I get the same reaction about Mindfulness as I get from my husband when I talk about my baby’s magical amber beads that cure her teething pain (the jury is still out on that one :P). But here’s the thing…

“Mindfulness has a grounding in science, and there is research to back it up.”

 

I wanted to share with you one really cool research article that I have read that really shows what the power of the mind is capable of.

 

In 1998 (a fairly early one), Mr Kabat-Zinn and his friends wanted to test the effects of Mindfulness techniques on the healing rate of patients with psoriasis who are undergoing photo-therapy. Photo-therapy is basically a treatment where patients stand in a light box and have their body exposed to therapeutic doses of ultraviolet light in the hope of healing the inflamed layers of skin, and normalising the appearance of the skin. Often the disease and the required treatment will be a recurring event. (BTW- that is a super basic explanation and in no way intended for educational purposes on the treatment for dermatitis). Anyway, the trial tested 37 patients; some received a mindfulness techniques audio tape during treatment, while others received just the photo-therapy treatment. The researchers found that the meditator’s skin cleared on average, much quicker, in fact 4 x quicker than the non meditators.

 

Even though this is a very small study and has it’s limitations… gosh it’s promising! This study was an example of what we in health call, “integrative medicine”: a fusing of the mind-body connection into more conventional medical practices. And it seems to be the way of the future for many areas of healthcare.

 

Now, I am not in the business of treating skin conditions, nor am I preaching that mindfulness is the cure and ultimate alternative to modern medicine. But what if mindfulness (establishing the mind-body connection) has the power to amplify modern medical treatments, to amplify conventional therapeutic practices, like physiotherapy, personal training, pain management and even incontinence therapies. Pelvic floor physiotherapists around the world are being exposed to mindfulness as a way to manage pelvic pain and to assist in taking the suffering out of chronic pain conditions. They are also using it help reduce excessive urgency to urinate and establish healthy bladder patterns.

 

I am so excited about the future for pelvic floor, continence and pain management physiotherapy. Mindfulness is another tool in the tool box for physiotherapists to combine with conservative treatments, and to help clients be empowered to manage their own pain or dysfunction, and ultimately begin the pathway to a healthier, more fulfilled and more present lifestyle.

 

Coming up…

We will get real and talk about menopause and all things lovely. What you need to know to protect yourself in the years to come! Until then…

 

Be kind to yourself,

Julia Berger
Physiotherapist