by Eve Pearce

Art for Physical Healing

Nearly all people will recognise how art can be a comforting presence in their lives, whether it is as moral support or just something enjoyable to go and see. However, visual art has a potential to be far more than this. It is an amazing form of therapy for people with varied conditions, with a capacity to help and heal many aspects of the human body and mind. All of these benefits, from relaxation to muscle-development, can be attained while participants are enjoying themselves; by experiencing beautiful paintings, and by creating them for themselves.

Pain Relief and Quality of Life

A study which was conducted in 2005 examined the potential for artistic creativity as a treatment for pain and distress. The study involved patients fashioning art with a choice of different creative materials while they were unwell, and when most patients were asked they expressed that they felt less pain and distress as a result of having taken part. Research like this highlights how creating art can be an effective part of a modern system of pain relief.

As the previous article in this series identifies, simply looking at art which one considers to be beautiful can provide pain relief. This could have many applications in the field of physiotherapy where pain relief is relevant.

Many people may require physiotherapy to treat their condition or for rehabilitation after they have undergone a medical procedure. Physiotherapy is used to help patients after joint operations, for example, or to help regain mobility after a stroke. The main goals of physiotherapy are to increase mobility and relieve pain for the patient, often through exercises which manipulate a joint in a way which can shift fluid and clear obstructions.

Some patients can experience discomfort while they undergo these therapies; though, of course, the therapy will improve their condition and prevent pain in the future. The pain relieving qualities of art therapy can help these individuals with the discomfort during their treatment, while working alongside physiotherapy in a dual pain relieving relationship. As a result, the calming and diverting properties of art can help them to complete their therapy in order to improve their overall quality of life.

Physical Benefits of Creating Beautiful Art

One of the amazing properties of art is that the act of painting a picture can provide the painter with physical benefits as well as the well-known mental benefits. As a result, people who use art for therapy can benefit many areas of their body while producing beautiful work. Leading an active life, exercising joints and muscles, is a really important way of staying healthy and of getting better after a procedure or health problem. In modern times it can be easy to miss out on activity, not finding the time to flex parts of the body which can have great health benefits. Alongside eating a healthy diet with plenty of protein to strengthen muscles (which can be gained through sources like pea protein or nuts) and taking the prescribed medication, creating art can be an useful part of physical recovery. Creating visual art works joints and muscles in ways which it is hard to do otherwise. In addition, many adults do not take part in activities such as this and haven't for years. This means that art therapy can have great results for people with joint problems, for example, through painting, shading and colouring and the specialised joint-movement which these activities involve. Meanwhile, these exercises will seem far less repetitive and boring for the patients because they can gain the benefits while being creative and enjoying themselves. Meanwhile, they will have designed a personal picture which they will be able to keep, sell or from which they can learn something.

Overall, art represents a really important opportunity for people to improve their physical condition and to alleviate discomfort. It enables people to do so through an enjoyable and natural activity, one which can be affordable too. Using art like this is still a relatively new form of treatment within the medical profession, and in the coming years more information should become available through research. With more facts, physicians will gain greater detail on how people can utilise art in this way, providing for a more pleasant and unified treatment system.