“Everybody needs a coach. Every famous athlete, every famous performer has somebody who is a coach — somebody who can say, ‘Is that what you really meant?’ and give them perspective. The one thing people are not really good at is seeing themselves as others see them. A coach really, really helps.” - Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google
Although this quote is mainly referring to sports and business coaches, it can be translated to physical therapists also. Physical therapists are essentially health and wellness coaches. Most famous athletes have their own personal physical therapist to keep them healthy and active for as long as possible.
Not all physical therapists are created equally, just as not all coaches are equal in skill and outcomes. Physical therapists that have fine-tuned movement evaluation skills, spend the time to understand the true nature of each individual’s issues, and create unparalleled programs specific to their clients are like coaches. Not all physical therapists have continued their education to be the best they can be, but I don’t want to get off topic here.
In order to pick the right physical therapist, you want to look for one that has experience and training with your specific sport/lifestyle. For example, if you are a CrossFit athlete then you may want to find a physical therapist that actively participates in CrossFit and has taken courses to fully understand the requirements for each lift. If you are a runner, you may want to work with a PT that participates in races and consistently treats runners. You should also look for a PT that works in private practice. This does not mean you cannot find a good physical therapist in a corporate clinic, but that PT will likely not have the time or energy to give you the attention you need to get better in a timely fashion.
Once you’ve found a competent physical therapist for the role of coach, you need to work with them. You do not need to wait until you’re injured. Physical therapists can help avoid injuries with preventative and maintenance programs.
You don’t wait until your engine locks up before you change your oil. Why wait until your body shuts down before you get some help?
The first way to get help is to have your movement assessed. At Beyond Movement PT, we are well versed in running, CrossFit lifts, gymnastic movements, and the demands of team and individual sports movements. Fixing any movement impairments leads to less injury and better performance. Those are two very good things!
Once you’ve been assessed, your PT will either do some hands on work (dry needling, manual therapy, joint mobilizations) to address your problems and/or give you some homework. There should always be open communication between you and your physical therapist. They are now your coach for movement and body maintenance. I typically recommend following up once every month for a follow-up to re-assess any movement impairments and progress/regress your homework as needed. This is also a great time to bring up any new issues that you are experiencing. Beyond Movement PT offers a monthly membership subscription that saves you big bucks and helps keep you compliant compared to paying by session!
You are stuck with the same body for your whole life. Don’t take it for granted and let it break down. We’ve all been there. Even I have put off getting injuries checked out until I felt broken. Don’t fall into that trap and make the same mistake over and over again. A good physical therapist has a unique set of skills and knowledge of medicine, health, movement, and fitness. We are able to make significant changes in your life. A physical therapist should be an integral part of your training, whether that is for a race, for a gold medal, for the championship trophy, or even just for high level exercise such as CrossFit.
Our motto is “Movement is Medicine” and we really do believe in it (so much so that we put it on our wall). Get your movement checked out, have a plan put in place, and let your physical therapist be your human performance mechanic.
Corey Hall, PT, DPT