This week, Michael Dermansky, senior physiotherapist at MD Health, is joined by long-time customers Stephen and Kathleen to hear about their experience in overcoming pain and getting stronger and more confident.
Pain and injury can stop us doing many things we enjoy – from gardening, to sport, to simply lifting up the grandkids – especially as we get older. After working with the MD Health team, Stephen and Kathleen were able to get back to doing many things that they thought had passed them by.
Their exercise journey culminated in a trip of a different kind: to Sicily. By being consistent and diligent in doing the work, even through COVID, they were able to step out with confidence overseas and take on a challenging walking tour. Their story is a great example of people being able to live their best lives through preventative strengthening exercises.
Let’s get confident!
CLICK HERE to read the full transcript from episode 25 of The Confident Body Show
Topics discussed in this episode:
- How strength training can reduce injury and help you recover sooner
- The role of preventative Pilates in reducing injury and aiding recovery
- The secret to getting more active as you age
- Individualised vs class exercise
- The role of consistency, and doing the work, even through COVID
- Starting to work on strength, from 2016, meant that all the injuries were much more manageable. It didn’t happen overnight, but with consistency the benefits started happening in a fairly short period of time (from about 6 weeks). (1:00)
- They stopped waiting for an injury before doing something about it. Their Pilates program is a preventative maintenance program, so as a result if issues do arise, they are dealt with quickly and they continue to get on with their lives. (7:00)
- Compared to 8 years ago, now that they have turned 70, they are more active and have more confidence in their bodies than before. They have just returned from a walking tour of Sicily, able to walk through the slippery pebbled trails, through river crossing and up to 3000m accent. (For Stephen, the altitude sickness stopped him getting to the top, not the strength in the body.) (7:30)
- Through COVID, this biggest thing that allowed them to still do the things that they loved, including a major renovation of the garden, was the consistency of exercises. Even though they were through telehealth, and were not able to use the equipment they would normally have access to in the studio, it maintained their strength and they did not feel like they went backwards. (8:00)
- The individualised exercises make a difference. The support from the staff to ensure that they are doing the right technique, that they are working on the right muscles groups makes such as big difference. (10:30)
- They realised fairly early in the journey that their job was to turn up and do the work. It didn’t have to be complicated, 2 times a week, but consistency was the key. Turn up, do the work and the results would happen and they did. (11:30)
For practical articles to help you build a confident body, go to mdhealth.com.au/articles.
Do you have any questions?
- Call us on (03) 9857 0644 or (07) 3505 1494 (Paddington)
- Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Check out our other blog posts here
Our clinical staff would be happy to have chat if you have any questions.
Click on the Dash icon below to see the entire show transcript
Episode 25: Full Transcript
Welcome to The Confident Body, where experienced health professionals discuss how to get the most out of your body for the lifestyle you choose. We believe everyone can exercise and get the most out of life regardless of your injuries or health issues. Now here’s your host, senior physiotherapist, Michael Dermansky.
Hi everyone, and welcome to the show that helps you become more confident in your body, so you can keep doing the things that you love. My name’s Michael Dermansky, I’m the senior physiotherapist at MD Health, and I’ve got two special guests today. I’ve got today, Stephen and Kathleen Jay. They’ve been customers for us for quite a long time. They’ve just come back from an overseas trip in Sicily as well, which we’re going to talk a bit more about today. But first, I’d like to thank you guys after coming along. Welcome to show.
Thank you, Michael.
Well, we’re going to start back a few years ago. So I first both of you in 2016. It’s been a little while, but particularly you were the first one, Stephen. So June 2016, you started with us. What brought you along? What made you want to work on your body, make yourself stronger?
Well, after my retirement from full-time work, I decided I, like a lot of people, would take up golf. This was going reasonably well except my lower back and hips were complaining quite a lot. I had a very good chiropractor at that stage, and she eventually said, “Steve, you have to get stronger. Go and see Michael.” So I did.
Yes. And you haven’t had any major back problems ever since then, really. You’ve been great.
Yes, it’s been a very significant change. I had had times where I’d been in bed for two or three days, unable to really move much at all with the back spasms, until they just calmed down enough for me to tentatively start my life again. But since joining MD and doing what I’m told there, bit by bit, I’ve got stronger and more confident. Yeah, it has been a significant change in my life.
That’s really good. The whole point of this show is to talk to people about how to build confidence in their body, and having that ability to be confident in what you do and being strong enough to do things, what you’re going to do. That’s how people live their best lives. And Kathleen, you came along a few months later. So we saw you in November 2016, was the first time you came along. A few months after Stephen. What brought you along later that year?
I had stopped playing netball at about, I hate to think, late fifties, and I missed that exercise. We were still playing tennis, I think, at that stage. Sure, it was not high level tennis or anything like that, but I’d get a lot of hamstring injuries, cramps, things like that. I just needed to be that little bit fitter. And I love gardening.
There’s a lot of bending and kneeling and that sort of thing in gardening. And it’s really helped in that manner. But the greatest thing you ever did for me was after I got shingles, I actually got shingles down my left sciatic nerve into the perineal and crossed to my foot, and I had a major foot drop. And I really couldn’t walk, and I was in huge amounts of pain.
You particularly and helped by Stephan, another physio, you helped me greatly to get back the use of my leg. No one would notice that I’ve still got a slight foot drop. And well, I couldn’t walk properly without the ongoing physio that you gave me. It was fantastic.
That’s really good to hear. We know about shingles as being a flare up of the chicken pox virus as well. The people who have had chicken pox before, some stage in the future, it can flare up, and it goes… Chicken pox lives in the nerves. Even after it goes down, it stays there. And it can run right down that particular nerve and have really… It cause pain in the area too.
It’s not like you’ve hurt something or done anything, it’s actually a nerve pain because of the virus. I know when yours as well… I think it was straight after overseas trip, wasn’t it, Kath?
Yes. Yes, we were on a walking tour overseas when it happened, and I didn’t realise it was shingles at the time. So it took a month or so to get a good diagnosis. Most people just get it up across their torso, into their hair, that sort of thing. So it was very unusual.
And all these things, as you said, took away your confidence of what you wanted to do. You were playing tennis beforehand, and it’s a really big deal getting that back, which I guess leads to the next question for both of you. And you said this all quite a bit already, what is your passion that you love? What makes a great life for you guys?
Being able to be active, and just help the family do the gardening, do lots of walking, play golf, just keeping healthy. It’s so important. Have good balance, have you have confidence that you can walk a few miles and-
Yes, I’ve gone from being extremely careful bringing in the firewood for the fire, being the wintertime to not even worrying about it. And not picking up my grandchildren either. I stopped doing that. So I do that now. That’s not a problem.
I had stopped gardening with Kathleen because it was so dangerous for my lower back, and the gardening’s back on the agenda, and we’re doing things together in the garden again. And house repairs is another thing that became more of a challenge because I just used to get so sore, and there’s always something to do around our house. So that’s all come back, and I don’t have any significant worries about attempting things.
That’s fantastic. That’s the kind of story we’d love to hear. These are the things that you don’t think about when you go to do strength work as well it’s like, “Oh, I’m doing this because I want to reduce my back pain, or I want to do this because I want to… I usually hear people when they’re younger that their stories are basically, “Oh, I want to turn my body to be this way.”
But it’s all these normal things in your life that are so much easier, and they stop becoming at something you think about because you’ve got the strength to be able to do it. It’s a huge deal when I hear this story day in day out, that when you don’t have a confidence in body, if you’re not strong enough.
All these things in your life that you want to do and you think, “Ah, you know what? I won’t do the fire. I won’t do the renovations. I won’t do this because I just don’t think I’m strong enough to do it.” They stop becoming a fear, and it’s something you start to enjoy as part of your life that you can actually enjoy all the things you want to do. It’s really great to hear stories like this too because it means that… By the way, I haven’t gotten here, but can you tell the listeners how old both of you are?
you don’t have a confidence in body, if you’re not strong enough.
Yes. We both turned 70 recently. So yeah, that’s where we’re at. We both didn’t enjoy turning 70, but hey, we’re here.
Yes. And the exercise is preventative maintenance. You’re not reacting to a bad situation now. You are stopping that bad situation happening.
Yeah. And that’s the whole point. 70 is not 70 what it used to be 30, 40 years ago. 70 years, a lot younger than that now too. And you guys have both got a very active life. In fact, more of an active life now than you had eight years ago when you first met. That’s exactly the story you want to be hearing.
My next question I was going to ask you was, what has being stronger meant for your life, the things that you love to do, your family? You’ve said a lot of that already, but what has it really meant being stronger in your life in both the things you love to do, and what it’s meant for your family life?
I’ve mentioned those everyday things which you notice, incrementally you just do again without worrying about them. My golf journey’s been interesting. Like a lot of people, have not been a super talented person in that regard. I got together with a new teaching professional before COVID, and the things he explained about the biomechanics of golf and what he wanted me to attempt to learn to do, I would not have been able to do prior to becoming stronger through the pelvic area.
So it all made perfect sense. It’s a much more comfortable game for me now, these changes he’s made. But looking back on it, I would’ve struggled to have been able to do what he asked me to do. And I was able to immediately tackle the challenges he gave me. I think the other thing I’d like to say is that with everybody, things happen. You get a little niggle here and niggle there.
When we were renovating our back garden, we were putting in a lot of work along with the landscaper. And I was using long-handled shovels for the first time in many years, and levering things and doing some strong work. My hips became rather upset at this at one stage. And of course, I just called up and came in. And it was Sarah who saw me first, a very strong lady employed at MD Health. And she immediately tackled the issues with my hips.
But the dramatic thing was they calmed down so fast. So I had been used to these things, not calming down for days. And I wasn’t taking anti-inflammatories. I just had a little bit of help from Sarah, a little bit of advice, a little bit of a cold pack and some rest. And I was good to go the next day.
And when you think of all the years you played tennis with such a bad back. If you’d have been doing Pilates, it would’ve been so much better.
I used to have a particular service motion that wasn’t all to do with how tensed up my left side of my lower back was. So once I got to a certain tightness, and I could feel the ball of muscle on my left side tight but stable, I knew I could serve okay. And looking back at that, you think that’s just crazy ridiculous. Anyway-
It’s interesting as well. So you compensated around an injury rather than deal with it.
Problems, you compensated around it too. There’s no blame here as well. You may not have known any better at the time too. And that’s the crazy thing, as you said. Kath, you said before, preventative maintenance as well.
I saw this 25 years ago, is that we wait for people to hurt themselves before we do anything about it. And it’s crazy stuff. Why are we waiting for someone to hurt themselves before you… “So you know what? I’m going to be stronger and fitter, so I can actually do the things I enjoy.” You started the journey that way. 2016, you guys started that journey.
And yet, the story you’re telling me now, what you can and can’t do, you wouldn’t have been on your radar then. You wouldn’t have thought, “Oh well, I just want to manage this back pain.” Rather than, “I’m going to be able to do all these things in my life, and I’m not going to be able to think about them. And I’m going to enjoy my life, whatever stage I’m at too.”
That’s the real benefit of being stronger. And particularly the pelvic area as well. It’s enormous having those changes as well, that you don’t have to wait to hurt yourself to say, “You know what? I’m going to do something about this.”
Yeah, agreed. Agreed. And that was a shift in mind to me too because when I first came along I thought, “Oh, I’ll do six of these probably, and they’ll send me away with a whole thing of things to do at home. And hopefully, I’ll have the self-discipline to do.” But what was immediately apparent after a few weeks was the things you give us to do keep varying for various reasons.
So the catalogue of the strengthening in interventions is hugely broad. And for us, we just decided, the best thing to do is just keep turning up, have an appointment in the book. We do it twice a week. That’s part of our routine. And the benefits will just follow from that.
It’s a commitment. It’s like playing… We both played team sport for so many years. I was playing netball twice a week and tennis twice a week. It’s a team commitment. And that’s the good thing about our Pilates. It’s a commitment to go at least twice a week.
And I think the other thing we’d like to say, Michael, because you probably wouldn’t ask us this question, is that we have never had a problem with having any of your staff members. So I’ve talked to other people about Pilates that they go to, and you’ll often get a comment, “Oh, I only go on Monday because that’s when so-and-so is there.
And I don’t like the other person.” That sort of thing. All of your staff are so competent and good at what they do, so we just turn up. I don’t even look who’s in the email that I’m going to have because it doesn’t matter. And that is a very significant feature of your service.
We’re also very impressed with the students you have through. And I was in my business back in the day as I can say now, linked to various institutions that taught for the qualifications that I was after. I think that’s ave a very impressive feature.
Yeah, with the student program as well, it has nothing to do with podcasts at all. But ultimately, the reason why we… We used take a lot of students on as well because we… It’s twofold.
One is, we could impart knowledge onto the next generation. But second of all is, it’s a real great teaching tool for our junior staff members. And it’s a first step into management where they get to teach other people some of their craft.
Some of the time, they’re fairly junior themselves and they think, “Oh, I’ve barely learned this stuff myself. How can I teach it to others?” Like, “Okay, let’s dip your foot in a little bit about teaching students well because you’ll realise, you’ve actually learned a lot more in the last six months, 12 months, two years than you thought you have.” And then once they start to have to teach students, they have to consolidate the ideas in their mind first to be able to teach it to someone else.
Because if you want to teach someone else, you’ve got to make it simple and understand it well yourself. So this has been a real good benefit to our junior staff as they take that first step into leading others, is that leading students means that they start to learn their skills. I’m not sure if I should be saying this one air, but we get student placements anything from four weeks to five weeks to six weeks, depending on the university. And they’re so worried they’re going to stuff it up.
Reality land is that, they have another student, and they’re forced five weeks anyway. So I’m sure they will stuff it up. I’m sure they’ll make mistakes, and that’s okay because they’ll learn from the ongoing practice of taking students and teaching other people, that they’ll get better at it. And then by the time they look back at it a year or two years later, they’re actually a really good teacher.
Not just of clients and improving their programs but teaching others of how to be good practitioners and how to be good clinicians on all those skills. Not just the technical skills but actually how to deal with people, and their different needs and at different times. So the conversation they have with people when they’re having a good day, and the conversation they have with people when they’re having a bad day, both are very important skills to have in a customer service industry like we have.
So again, I want to go back to the question. I really started from the first place. So you guys recently have both come back from a walking trip to Sicily. First of all, how was that trip? And second of all, compared to doing a trip like that now compared to say over eight years ago when you hadn’t built your strength, how does that look like? What does it feel like?
Well, that’s interesting. I found the walking so much easier this time. We were walking over a lot of rocky ground and loose rocks and loose pebbles. And we climbed quite a few mountains because our main tour guide just loves going uphill. Now, seven years ago we did a hill tour of the mountains of Italy hills, but it was so much more arduous, wasn’t it?
Yes, I agree. We climbed easier this time.
Yes, we did. Although Steve couldn’t get all the way up mount, that was because he got altitude sickness. But I went up the southeast slope, and it was just fantastic. We got to 3000 meters. We didn’t start at the bottom, but it was good. It was great. We are certainly stronger in our legs than we were say, six years ago. And even when we were walking through Croatia and Slovenia, I think we didn’t struggle this time with any of the hills.
Well, we’ve aged five years since then, and we were fine, also our balance. So we had some places where we needed our balance to be on show, and one of those was a river crossing across slippery stones, and things like that. But Kathleen and I had no difficulty going a across, and not falling in. So that was good.
That was very good.
That sounds fantastic.
But yes, the terrain wasn’t always easy. They weren’t just tracks. They were goat runs quite a lot of the time in Sicily. But it was fantastic. We were just walking through the countryside. It was fabulous.
That’s fantastic. That’s really, really good. That’s the story you want to hear that you enjoyed your trip overseas. You really to tell those invigorating stories. That’s the whole point rather than, “Oh, I went there. I stayed in the hotel room. I couldn’t go very far because I didn’t feel up to it too. And then I came back to Australia.” That’s not an exciting trip, but just tell me a story like that. That’s the whole reason why you put the commitment into coming twice a week.
Yes. It is.
We are already thinking, where will we go next?
That’s perfect. Love that story. Absolutely love that story. Where can you go next? By just going back to the thing Stephen, that you said as well is that the commitment of coming twice a week as well, and you just go with it too. And you originally thought, “Oh, I’ll do a few sessions, and then I’ll go home and do these exercises.
Realistically, really anyone does. Some people do home exercises, most people don’t. Most people don’t, and most people don’t. It’s just having that commitment to do something on a regular basis. Your body will feel the benefits. You just got to turn up and do the work. And it will do the benefits. There’s no, by coincidence that the American College of Sports Minister’s recommendation is do strength training twice a week on all the major muscle groups on a regular basis.
That there’s really strong evidence. Time to give scientific evidence that that is the case. You just have to do the work, and the body will feel the benefits. But you don’t have to… It doesn’t mean a complicated process.
You just got to do the work and be consistent. And with a lot of the other podcasts we’ve run before with the other professionals we’ve spoken to, the work consistency has come up so many times, that it’s the secret. And it’s also been the barrier to people not achieving their goals. Once every so often, you can’t get strong by having a gym membership in your pocket.
Or I’m joining this, but only came once a month. Nothing’s going to change. The consistency is really the real key, and the key that allows things to go forward. And you guys have told me exactly the same thing as well.
Well, when I started, you explained some of the numbers that I was hitting when you tested me. So being a scientist, the data meant something to me. So that really put everything in perspective because you explained how weak my hips were compared to what they really ought to be with someone of my age. And you said I would feel the benefit after six weeks and I did. I could feel the difference.
So all of that helped me. Plus the staff to just go, “No, no, this system’s built around turning up.” So we’ll just turn up, and hopefully the rest will happen. And the rest has happened. I like the way you adjust the programs to suit each client, what’s going on with them at the time. Since we renovated the back garden, and I had a significant hip issue there because I obviously I had… Well, and truly, I overdid it one day.
I was given some flexibility work for my hips, and you and others were applying some flexibility work to me during the sessions. So I have kept that up. I do that most mornings with a stretchy band attached to something solid. And most mornings, I do the hip hitches because I don’t know how many people at MD Health you included say, “If you can do one thing, do these.”
So I do those, and that’s a fairly consistent thing that I do at home. And geez, it takes me five to seven minutes to do that. And then I’ve had experiences where I’ll get out of bed with a little bit of niggle, usually on my left side. And I’ll do the hip hitches, and it’s gone. So there you go.
That’s the only way we found that exercises are effective at home is that you want two exercises, even more than that. Nobody does them. It’s just reality land. So if it’s one or two things that you do, great. If it’s more this laundry list of stuff, nobody will do them. Not at the right volume, not at the right intensity, not at the right technique as well. And it’s-
Yeah, we’re not being supervised at home.
Yes, technique. That’s one good thing about Pilates. You watch what we are doing and you say, “No, no. I want this muscle activated, you are not doing it in this manner. You need to just lift that leg higher or move this across. You are twisting your hips.” Whatever. You are constantly supervising and making sure we are doing it correctly to activate the muscle group you want us to work. And what I found of great benefit was, you actually kept us going during COVID.
The telehealth sessions were just brilliant. We didn’t have the right equipment. You and your staff would be, “Oh, well. Let’s try using this. Can you find something like that to lift or lean against this wall. Use that couch.” You were creative. Oh, gee. It was just fantastic to just keep going. Sure, it wasn’t as good as coming in and using the reformers and the various springs and weights that you’ve got, but it was great to keep going.
Yeah, we felt we didn’t lose anything during that time.
See, that was a tough time for us as well too in terms of… We knew that we needed to keep people consistent. The consistency was always really the key. So we knew with telehealth, we could do so much because we didn’t have all the toys we wanted to. It just meant, if we could maintain people it’d be great.
We knew we weren’t going to get enough forward, but if we could maintain, it would be a big positive. But our biggest challenge was the consistency. If we keep people consistent, we could at least get through that period of time, and then be able to build people up on the other end as well. That was our thoughts as health professionals. How do we keep people consistent? Because that was the key. And that was the downfall for a lot of people during that COVID time as well, is that they lost their consistency. And then they feel the same anymore.
And the challenge getting people back, it’s easier to forget the way you used to feel when you were stronger and fitter, and that accepting that your body’s not good enough became the normal again. And that wasn’t okay. And getting this year as well been interesting one because we’ve seen people start to go back and say, “You know what? I can do this again. I can be stronger.
I can have a better life again. I’m not going to accept a poorer life as being okay.” And it’s not. You don’t have to. You can be stronger and fitter. You can do all the things that you… You guys said you do and enjoy planning that next trip after the first one. That’s the way this should be. Not, “Oh, I can do less now than I could before.” That’s not okay. That’s not the life you need to have.
We built a whole sleeper retaining wall during COVID while doing online Pilates.
Well, that was ridiculous.
You did do it though. That’s the most important.
Yeah, that’s right. We did it.
Any last thoughts you want to leave with the listeners before we finish off today?
Oh, I’ve said pretty much everything. I think a lot of people that might come to see you who are referred by someone, they’re expecting a fairly typical physio approach, which is from my past experience, we’ll work on one particular thing for a while until the symptoms decrease. And then bye-bye.
So I really enjoyed the testing aspect and the explanation of what the results meant compared, this is where you’re at, Steve. This is where you’ll be, if you continue. And just that explanation that, “Look, twice a week is enough. And if you do that, you will feel the benefit.” And I did feel all benefit relatively quickly. It wasn’t a huge, huge change, but I could feel the change. So I guess, that’s my last comment. Just reinforcing things that I’ve already said.
Yes, when I think all those years of playing sport, and I never really trained or did any specific general exercises.
Yeah, I encourage younger people who like their sport to maybe include this sort of stuff and get better at their sport.
Get more pleasure from the sport.
A lot of people like us, in the past says, “Well, we played sports, so we’re pretty strong and fit.” Well-
That’s not true.
That’s not the way it works.
Well, it’s great to hear this from the horse’s mouth rather than me telling people the same thing. So I know that one of the biggest secrets, you want to be a good runner, do strength work. If you want to be a good footballer, do strength work.
You want to be a good netballer, do strength work. So I’m very used to telling that story. It doesn’t mean everyone always listens, but it’s one of the best kept secrets of being a good athlete is to do a lot of strength work that doesn’t involve that specific sport. The combination is magic together.
Yeah. We would’ve been amazing tennis player.
We were very average, but we were happy.
I can’t comment about how great a tennis players you would’ve been. But yeah, life would’ve been a bit easier then. Well, thank you very much for your time, Stephen and Kathleen. This won’t be aired at the time that we’re filming this.
We’re filming this on a Sunday morning at 7:00 AM. So you guys have been very, very gracious of getting up this early in the morning to film this podcast. I think the message have been really loud and clear. Do the strength work and be consistent. It makes a massive difference in your life. And you can actually enjoy all the things you want and all aspects. Sports, travel, family, it’s such a big deal. Thank you very much for your time, guys.
You’re welcome, Michael.
Thank you for listening to The Confident Body. For practical articles to help you build a confident body, go to mdhealth.com.au/articles.
Take the first step to a healthier you!
Would you prefer for someone to contact you to book your FREE Full Body Assessment*?
Please fill in this form and someone from MD Health will be in touch with you soon.
Alternatively please call us on:
Or email us:
*Please note only the Full Body Assessment is a FREE service. The Full Body Assessment is for new clients at MD Health or returning clients who haven’t been in for 6 months or longer who intend to particpiate in our 13 Week Clinical Pilates Program**.
For all new clients who wish to come in for a one-off, casual or adhoc basis for Physiotherapy or Exercise Physiology the Initial Physiotherapy or Initial Exercise Physiology appointment is a paid service.
** The 13 Week Clinical Pilates Program at MD Health is not a lock in contract and you are not required to attend for the full 13 weeks if you do not wish.