Let’s face it, most of us have therapists these days or we are therapists. I am an exercise/injury/rehab therapist who specialises in persistent painful conditions of the human body. This means, I listen to you and give you sensible advice or I treat you and give you achievable targets to accomplish.
So aren’t all therapists like this? You ask. Haha, no, far from it. I remember in my bad therapist days when I was so self absorbed in my own learning and ego that I would impart my newly acquired knowledge on someone without regard to what they wanted to achieve.
In one instance, I attended a strength and conditioning course over a period of 4 days. A fantastic course to which I learnt many things about making people stronger. Of course, I took this knowledge and imparted it on my first available victim. At this stage of my life I was a strength and conditioning coach at the University of Canberra. A new client had joined up, and lucky him, he was assigned to me to write him a strength program.
I remember him telling me what he wanted, but to me, it was blah, blah, blah. I just wanted to put him on the 45 degree leg press and work him to failure. This is what I learnt in my 4 day course and he was going to do it.
So, after many sets and reps of leg pressing he got up and said, I feel sick. We went outside, and there he sat vomiting on and off for 45 minutes. He never came back to the gym. What I realised from this event is that as a therapist/coach/trainer, I need to focus on what the client wants and not what I want to achieve.
Therapists regularly give clients tasks/exercises or goals which are totally unachievable. Take for example a therapist who gives you 10-20 exercises to help with your injured knee. In my experience people will only remember 3 exercises, perhaps 4. In fact, I don’t think I have ever performed more than 10 different exercises in one exercise session
It takes up to two weeks to change or implement a new habit. Reaching for a goal, learning a new exercise or changing the way you eat lunch is super hard and these tasks must be tailored to you, the individual.
To make the process of change more complex, those who have persistent pain are dealing not only with pain, but therapists who have never learnt to prescribe exercise for those with this type of condition.
Are you surprised? You should be. Your Personal Trainer, Physiotherapist, Crossfit Coach, Exercise Physiologist and many other therapists have no training in prescribing exercise for people with persistent pain.
The reason for this is because we don’t know enough about the pain process, and we treat people like machines, rather than like people.
I have put together 5 points on how to pick a therapist who will do what is best for you rather than them fulfilling their best interests:
1) Your Therapist Must Listen To You.
You think this would be obvious, but if your therapist forgets vital details of your condition, then move on.
2) Your Therapist Talks about Themselves More Than You.
It should always be about you, even if you have known your therapist for years.
3) Your Therapist has Poor Customer Service.
This is usually an indication that they do not take pride in their work, move on.
4) Your Therapist is not evolving as you do.
A strange one, but perhaps you have outgrown each other and your therapist is not keeping up to date with current pain research.
5) Your Therapist treats you like a Machine.
You are a person first and you are more like a garden than a machine.
People work with trainers and coaches to learn, thrive and adapt. Part of this process is also to be accountable to someone who cares about your past, but more importantly about your current health status and your health for the next 5 – 20 years.
My hope for you, is that you can work with someone to make you stronger and fitter without increasing your pain. If you want more information about this click below.
Your past health is important, but don’t be romantic about it, more importantly is your condition right now and where you will be in 5 – 20 years time.