Five things we can learn from athletes about physiotherapy

I’ve always preferred to do physiotherapy at a clinic targeted at athletes. These days in Guelph I’m going to Defy: Sports performance and physiotherapy. In London it was the Fowler Kennedy Sports Medicine Centre. Both clinics also see non-athletes but have sports rehab as their main focus.

Since I’ve been spending do much time at physio lately I’ve been thinking about why I like having athletes around me and I like all that I can learn from them. Part of it, of course, is that I also identify as an athlete, if an older less serious one than many of the people around me at these places. But I also I like their company and think there are things we can learn from them about physio.

Here’s five things:

Schedule: Athletes already have a fitness routine and when they can’t do the sports they love, they have time at hand ready for physio. If you train in the morning before you work or go to school and you can’t train, then that’s when you do physio. They’re good at scheduling physio in because that’s how they live. Everyday athletes can do that too.

Motivation: Athletes are motivated to get better. They can’t do the sport they love until they are well again and that provides plenty of motivation to do the physio. I hear them at the clinic talking about benchmarks for return to various activities. They’re keen. When I’m feeling glum (will I ever ride far and fast again?) I try to ride on their enthusiasm.

Know that it works: One of the thing that keeps me going at physio is that I’ve done it before. I’ve had shoulder injuries, knee injuries, even finger injuries and in each case physio has helped. There are a lot of kids in physio, starting young, and learning to take care of their active bodies. Physio is part of heading an active life. It’s not failure. It’s just part of how it goes.

Making it a priority: Athletes make physio a priority. They’ve spent a lot of time practising and playing a particular sport and so they’re motivated to get back at it. That’s what I try to focus on when I’ve got a long stretch of physio ahead of me. I’m planning long bike trips in my mind while I stretch and work muscles.

Pain is okay: Athletes have a tolerance for pain and know the difference often between good pain and bad pain. Physio often hurts. Physio after knee surgery isn’t fun. But it’s restorative pain as opposed to destructive pain.


Other posts about physiotherapy:

Thinking about what makes physio easy

Why is physio so hard?

Why is physio so boring?

Let us know what you think....