Practice What You Preach!

Should you always be able to practice what you preach? Being in a profession within the healthcare system many people have asked me am I capable of doing everything that I normally ask of my clients, be in strength, mobility or balance related. The simple answer is no, I cannot do everything that I often expect and seek from others. This can present some what like an irony that I would not consider myself to me injured or currently harboring a condition but I cannot do some of the things I ask from those that do. The honest answer is that regardless of what you may try and teach someone and expect them to be able to replicate each person has different body structures and capabilities. Each person has also developed differently including their health history regarding the injuries they have sustained and they way in which thy have recovered from these injuries. So very rarely do you find someone who is perfectly functional by the standards we test people. To the extent that when I access someone who is perfectly functional I’m almost shocked.

I have gone through my fair share of injuries so If I was to be tested for things such as ankle or shoulder stability someone may think that I may currently be carrying an injury but as of right this second I’m good. We are not always capable of doing the tests and assessments that we use to grade individuals musculoskeletal health. At times we can hold the testing methods we use a little to strongly. As those who are testing these people and trying to push them forward it can at times create goals that can be excessively difficult for people to cross. People are sometimes not capable of reaching what is perceived to be perfect functionality but most are still capable of doing the sports or events that they wish to undertake. There are always ways around certain functional shortcomings. This may mean doing things in an unconventional manner or simply by breaking activities down to their base elements.

At the same time most people involved in health and sports related activities need to be able to do the basic requirements of that activity. Be it simple skills or some of the functional movements that are heavily demanded in the sport, it is essential purely because to understand the sport and what is demanded of those involved, the best way to help them and make their plan applicable to them and their sports is to be able to understand the sport at a basic level and recreate it. Not to be able to understand every fine nuance of a game but to see the way an individual moves and the way this interacts with surrounding players or athletes can at times be one of the most valuable assets you can have. To understand how an athlete should move in their position and how they normally move themselves can lead you down a path where you realise that they may be carrying an injury or weakness. Seeing a player act differently or out of character can lead you to help them to overcome what may be effecting their game. Behind games, and this is especially true for athletes, lies the core of an individual. So if you cant put yourself in their shoes you may miss the signs behind certain problems. You are not a mind reader although many expect us to be. But at the same time make sure you can practice what you preach, to a certain degree, even to understand where your clients and athletes are coming from to better help them and to allow yourself to keep up with the hectic demands of a physical and demanding job.

Physio v ATT

The Difference Betweeen a Physiotherapist & an Athletic Therapist

My qualification is a B.Sc in Athletic Therapy and Training, meaning I am an Athletic Rehabilitation Therapist. There is often confusion as to what I do when I describe this to people. I often get called a physio, physiotherapist, sports physio, sports therapist, physical therapist or a massage therapist. I am in fact none of these things and an accumulation of skills from all of these things. Athletic Therapists or (AT’s) are not widely known even within athletic and sports circles in a country such as Ireland. This is very different in countries where Athletic therapists are better known and more widely implemented especially in America, Canada and Australia. It is a mixture of people perceiving what I do and making a connection to something like physiotherapy, which is widely known and spoken of.  Yet, when people hear I’m not a physio the uncertainty sets it. It’s concerning when people ask which course I did “was it the 6-week course or the 12-week course you did to become a stretch therapist?” I actually spent 5 years in university and thousands of hours in clinics and pitchside being overviewed and assessed on practising my skills and knowledge.

This is not always a bad thing, more a frustrating thing. Many people ask me “does it really matter?”, and I normally ask them “would you like to be called your title or something close to your title”. Many therapists and qualifications share similar skills, client bases and even places of work. The difference is normally found in our backgrounds, where we learned our skills and they were intended for. Physiotherapists learn in a clinical or hospital setting often attending people who are post-op, suffer from age, disease or extreme injury-related conditions which has affected their physical capability to properly function. Physios normally have to attend individuals who start at a point where slow and steady state rehab is needed. Many physios then go on and learn in greater detail either through placement or further education to deal in more fast based scenarios such as acute injuries incurred by athletes or active members of the population.

Athletic Rehabilitation Therapists are the reverse. We learn in a fast based environment where there is often a shortage of time and excess of individuals such as teams or athletes attending clinics where their aim is to return to activity with the framework to complete most everyday tasks still being intact. AT’s then often learn the slower based and one on one skills later on in their training and in further clinic work when they can better dictate their hours. Both of our aims are the same but it is often controlled by the patients we care for and the environment in which we practice. We learn almost in reverse of each other and we often take differing approaches to the way in which we attempt to rehab our patients. I find that we often show our differences in the way in which we push our clients, this can either be slow with low activity or controlled with a more intensive form of rehab.

It is understandable as to why so many people misunderstand, all the varying therapists and qualifications that are out there. We share the same body of knowledge for most common complaints from patients, we share patients and a competitive environment. What really differentiates us is individual therapists and how they implement their care and knowledge and to whom. I have worked on competitive athletes and people who would, with pride, describe themselves as weekend warriors. I’ve helped people post-op, chronic and acute injuries, musculoskeletal, neural and articular, and the only real difference I think anyone should ever worry about is whether they are going to someone they think can handle the issues you have and that they have the confidence to either take it on with the best of their abilities or has the same amount of confidence to say its beyond their ability to help. As such there are very few differences other than the general public’s knowledge of one profession over the other. This is then something that AT’s themselves must change.

As perfectly stated by the Canadian Athletic Therapists Association; “The treatment varies but the objective doesn’t: an Athletic Therapist’s goal is to help clients return to their usual activities, whether that means playing competitive sports or walking to the mailbox and back”.

Increasing Mobility using Voodoo Bands

A somewhat controversial topic at times to due many peoples views on the use of voodoo bands in relation to improving mobility. This is often due to certain ways in which they are used or to what extent. Mobility bands or Voodoo bands originally came into practice through body building.

They were originally used to provide  an increase in pressure, to the active joint, to allow for a greater degree of movement, especially while their tissues are loaded. Within the body building world they are often also used to provide a hypertrophic effect to grow on the surrounding tissue. 

They became popular in their use amongst athletes and therapists a like. Similar to the application of pressure by an external individual in PNF the bands allow for a greater degree of movement through compression, tension and movement.  These often increase joint mobility, decrease pain, and speed up recovery through myofascial release, occlusion and reactive hyperemia, and joint centralisation.

Certain athletes can at times use the bands to increase their mobility to an unsafe degree in relation to their sport but as a whole it is often an incredibly useful way in which people can increase their mobility and reduce pain due to a reduction of tension in tissues and an ease of movement. The video shows the use of bands for ankle mobility and draining of excess fluid.

At the same time all aspects to Voodoo bands are not necessarily viable. Many use them for neural flossing but the compression itself can act more as a placebo effect reducing a persons ability to fully experience the pain. However as a whole for the benefits they can provide especially to those who are very immobile they are an essential tool.

Pigeon Stretch

Hey guys,

My first blog post on my brand new website, which was kindly brought to me by www.michellemcinerney.com. Work is still ongoing, but there’s no time like the present to recycle the past. Below might look familiar if you follow my Facebook Page. And if you don’t, click here and give us a like 🙂

Around this time of year, the holiday season, maybe peoples bodies don’t feel as good as the mood of the season itself. A lot of us are running around, driving for hours, standing and then sitting for hours on end without getting a chance to take care of ourselves. The New Year has rolled ’round and all the promises are being made.

This video (shared from @fitnessguydublin) is just a way to stretch out your glutes and piriformis, taking a little stress away from your upper legs and lower back. A solid block like the bench used can help those who don’t have the balance of range to do it in standing or on a mat. It’s quick and easy and will help those who are stuck in one position for extended periods of time, be it at a desk or sat watching Netflix.

More to follow!