What Everyone Should Know About Physio with Tiffaney Marlow
I recently spoke with Tiffaney Marlow, a physiotherapist who works out of Rebalance Sports Medicine.
She focuses mainly on rehabbing orthopedic injuries (i.e. problems with your muscles and bones), and also does a lot of pelvic therapy (if you pee your pants a little during running or skipping, you probably have a correctable dysfunction in your pelvic floor).
We had a great conversation and she shared her thoughts on what YOU NEED TO KNOW about physiotherapy and taking care of your body. I’ve paraphrased her below:
FIVE KEY WAYS TO EVALUATE YOUR PT
There are tons of great practitioners out there who do incredible work getting their clients back to peak performance. But, many people also have negatives experiences with rehab professionals too.
I’ve been there, and it’s incredibly frustrating and disappointing. As a patient, all you want is an answer to what's wrong and plan to solve your problem and get back to your normal life. You’re desperate. When therapy doesn't work, you lose faith in your practitioner, or the experience isn't great, you can lose faith in the entire industry. And you can lose hope in your prospects for rehab success.
Tiffaney gave me her five best tips to evaluate the care that you’re receiving.
- They should ask about and fully understand your goal. What level of function do you want to get back to? Do you want to be pain free for day-to-day activities, or do you want to get back into high performance activities? This should change their treatment plan.
- Do they clearly explain your diagnosis (what’s wrong) and prognosis (your recovery time-line and expected outcome)? You should know the time-line, the different phases of your treatment plan, and what to expect along the way.
- Are you seeing progress? The proof is in the pudding. Obviously this is big.
Everyone responds to treatments differently, and sometimes it takes time to tweak the treatment plan and zero it in for your unique needs. That’s OK, but they should talk you through this process so you know what’s going on and what to expect all the way through.
- Your treatment shouldn’t rely 100% on passive modalities like ultrasound and electric stim. This modalities have their place in treatment, but your plan should also include things like soft tissue work (massage and body work techniques), exercise (strengthening key muscle groups), and/or mobility work (improving range of motion in restricted muscles/connective tissue). For most problems, you'll need to re-pattern some movements and build up deficient areas. All the ultrasound in the world can't accomplish this.
TWO COMMON WAYS YOU COULD BE LIMITING YOUR POTENTIAL FOR REHAB
- Not doing the exercises as they’re prescribed.
Your physio should teach you how to properly perform do all the exercises you’re prescribed and make sure you fully understand. At the same time, you need to follow the plan.
- Jumping back into aggravating activities too early.
Just because your shoulder starts to feel a bit better doesn’t mean you’re ready to do a hundred hand stand push-ups or practice your tennis serve for an hour. Being pain free during your office job doesn’t indicate that you’re fully healed and prepped for high load/high speed/high repetition activities. It’s a great indicator that things are improving, but it will take more work to fully prep your muscles and joints for more aggressive activity.
Remember, if you continue to aggravate the injury in the initial phase of treatment, you’ll never solve the problem long-term.
I know it sucks to be grounded from the activities you love, but long-term it always pays to be conservative and follow the plan. Take enough time to build up gradually and make sure you’re fully prepared to resume the activities that aggravated your symptoms.
Part 2 coming soon, where we'll mainly be talking about the shoulders: signs you have a problem, common red flags, and when you should be seeking help.