Commonly-Recommended Physiotherapy Equipment
A couple items that help with the rehabilitation process and the cheapest places to find them.
Conflict of interest Disclaimer:
I don’t have any affiliation with any of these companies. If you find a better-value product/provider please let me know and I can share it with others.
Over-The-Counter (ie not custom) Foot-Orthotics/Insoles:
Of course, if you have the insurance coverage I tend to use custom foot-orthotics. Otherwise, these pre-fabricated options are a much more affordable solution (and much of the research doesn’t show a difference in efficacy, regardless).
I’ve personally found that this particular series by Dr. Scholl’s hits what I’m usually looking for. Heel gel reduces pressure for proximal plantar fascial pain and the rigid plastic arch feels more efficacious in providing input/support to the plantar (medial-longitudinal) arch for correcting lower extremity mechanics.
Double-check the bottom-left corner for size and gender.
So there’s a lot of personal preferences that come to bear here (as well as your tolerance for pressure - which will likely increase over time), but here are a couple tools of the trade:
A foam similar to what you see in black tends to be a little softer (good for newbies) versus the light blue which is typically some light foam over a hard plastic tube. These are good for large body parts where your weight will provide ample pressure (thighs, back, etc.). When it comes to textured versus smooth versions I would simply go based on preference - feels more gimmicky to me than anything else.
The stick is particularly useful for calves (so you can get enough pressure) or if someone else is doing the work on you.
The lacrosse balls are good for getting strong pressure into tight areas such as plantar fascia (foot) and the piriformis (hip). If this is too much for you a tennis ball would be a softer introduction.
You should be able to find all of these in a general sports store (Sport Expert, Canadian Tire, etc.).
Stretch (Exercise) Bands
While entirely a Physiotherapy cliché, stretch-bands are a very practical tool for doing exercises. Cheap and travel-friendly, sets like this are scaleable up to resistances that you can use for fitness/strength work as well. I recommend tubes (not the flat Thera-Band you sometimes see in clinic) as they last longer.
NB: Always inspect bands prior to use! If they become ragged or torn they may snap and come up towards your eyes.
This is the set I have at home and I’ve been quite happy with it.
Heavy Elastic Bands
Unlike they type above, these are larger, looped bands with much higher levels of resistance. The are helpful for reproduce certain joint mobilizations independently to speed our mobility work. Make sure to get the right width/resistance when ordering.
For those with golfer and tennis elbow (medial and lateral epicondylitis, respectively), an elbow brace is sometimes used to reduce irritation during loading.
I have to say I’ve tested quite a few, including the ones from the drug stores, and thus far this is by far and away the most effective in my experience. Works for either elbow and of either conditions (or both simultaneously).
Generally, when I’m recommending calf stretching, I’m recommending a lot of calf stretching. The easiest version is usually over a step, but since that’s not always convenient I tend to use a device like this. I slide this one under my couch and use it while watching TV.
Leukotape K (The stretchy one)
There’s a few brands with similar products: K-Tape, RockTape, KT Tape, etc. but I haven’t found much difference. You will find lots of colours but they are purely aesthetic and don’t represent different strengths. Pay attention to the sizing, normally I’m using the 5cm x 5M and cutting when I want smaller.
Prices can move around quite a bit, usually a clinic is paying around $13-15 after shipping. Here’s the cheapest I found at the time of writing but please let me know if you find a better supplier.
Leukotape P (the super-strong one)
You’ve seen the white athletic tape, this on the other hand has a much stronger adhesive and virtually no give. I’ve become a loyal user of the brand as I haven’t found anything that can match it yet. In clinic we can usually order it for $11-13 after shipping. For most conditions, one roll is all you would need. Here’s the cheapest I could find at the time of writing.
Because of the strength, don’t use if you’ve ever had a reaction to adhesives (e.g. Band-Aids) and take it off (slowly) if you develop any redness or itchiness. I usually have patients keep it on a maximum of two days.
If you have to read from printed material for school or work, this will be the best $20-30 you ever spend. You can also use these to lift up your laptop. Combined with a secondary keyboard you’ll be able to do computer work with much better ergonomics. Something lightweight and plastic might be helpful for travelling too/from the library. Something heavier, however, would be more sturdy for highlighting. Pretty much all my work is on screens so I haven’t tested this one, but here’s an example. Please let me know what your experience is.