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What is Physical Therapy: Physio 101

Updated: Jan 26, 2021

What is Physiotherapy?

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear Physical Therapy (or Physiotherapy)?

Maybe you think of the Physical Therapist you worked with in high school after tearing your ACL?

Perhaps you recall the PT who helped your grandmother learn to walk again after her stroke?

Maybe you’ve never been to a Physio and think it’s just for the serious athletes and not for the ‘weekend warrior” like you?

If you aren’t quite sure what physical therapy is, you are not alone! While there are different and diverse patient groups that a Physical Therapist may help, each patient has one thing in common: they want to experience movement free of pain and enjoy activities and a lifestyle that gives their life meaning! A Doctor of Physical Therapy can be your primary provider for all things musculoskeletal! To put it simply, Physio’s are pain and movement doctors. Our education is grounded in detailed studies of anatomy, kinesiology (study of movement), manual (hands-on) therapy and nutrition, positioning us to be an expert member of your healthcare team and empower you to experience an active, flourishing lifestyle!

What treatment is used in Physiotherapy?

While it is often assumed that Physiotherapy is simply doing exercises, we have a multitude of tools we can use to decrease painful movement and support your goal to lead an active lifestyle. These may include:

1) Manual Therapy: Manual therapy is a hands on therapy which helps to calm the body and nervous system that is often in ‘high alert’ due to pain. At Gate City Physio we use a combination of direct soft tissue techniques, joint mobilization and spinal manipulation to help decrease pain and improve your mobility. These techniques are gentle in their delivery and specific in their application, targeting the area where you are experiencing pain as well as taking into consideration whole body movement.

2) Therapeutic Movement: Exercise is often one of the first things people picture with physical therapy and for good reason! We believe movement is medicine: it has the power to heal, give us confidence and awareness in our body, and decrease pain. But exercise is far from just being told to “do 3 sets of 10” and be left alone in a crowded gym. At Gate City Physio we tailor specific exercises to each patient's needs. Exercise can include body weight movements such as yoga and pilates poses in addition to strengthening exercises focused on improving tissue reliance and keeping pain from returning. Our goal from day one is to provide you with the tools to care for yourself.

​3) Lifestyle Modification- Health is much more than the time you spend in the clinic. Your daily lifestyle has a profound effect on your pain levels, how you move and how you feel. By taking a holistic approach, we will explore all areas of your lifestyle including: movement, nutrition, stress, and sleep patterns and help you employ actionable strategies to improve your overall health.

In summary, Doctors of Physical Therapy are trained to think holistically and personally on the needs and goals of the individual patient and determine which combination of treatments best empower you to healthy movement. In our next blog post, we will discuss in detail some of the most common conditions we see in practice and the specialties of Gate City Physio!

Corey Hillman is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and owner of Gate City Physio -- a boutique physical therapy clinic inside Sonder Mind and Body. You can contact him at

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