Instil Confidence in Athletes not Reliance on the Practitioner

One of our Exercise Physiologist’s, Kyle, recently read an article by Adam Meakin’s (Physiotherapist) called ‘All that is wrong with Sports Physios’

Adam explained that a therapist conducted endless hours of massage, joint alignment and acupuncture on an elite athlete prior to competition. This routine of hands on treatment was done religiously and recommended by this therapist.

The athlete’s perception of her own performance was based around this approach. She believed that if she didn’t get the massage or joint alignment prior to competition it would have hindered her ability to do her best. This of course, is not the case. The recommendations given to her from her therapist seemed the best approach in her mind, but how was she to know any different?
It is now known that massage and stretching can hinder performance rather than enhance it. Stretching and lengthening a muscle can cause instability of a joint (couple that with unpredictable and powerful contractions) and may cause injury.

It can be argued that as a result of this way of thinking, this therapist is not providing the “best practice” for the patient and could be classified as negligent. If she had been assessed appropriately, given specific strength exercises and mobility as well as educated on how she can be in charge of her own training it would empower the athlete rather than allowing them to become reliant on a therapist’s hands to help their performance.

We see this in elite sports all over Australia and although the trend is changing slowly there is still a reliance on rub downs and stretching. It is an age old habit that has been instilled from us from a young age and so of course it must be good, right? Research proves otherwise. Unfortunately, behavior is tough to change hence the importance of writing this article.
Adam explains that many athletes believe they need to get ‘this poked, that cracked, or that taped’ before a race and if they don’t it will in some way have a detrimental effect to their game or competition. No one in amateur sport is living by this ritual and so the elite are obviously getting this terrible information from somewhere or someone.

The same approach should also be for the general public. Whether you are seeing your Physiotherapist for a back injury or your Exercise Physiologist for chronic disease management. They should be educating you on how you can take control of your own ailments. There should be a plan in place to treat, train, and manage on your own. To have the confidence that your body can do what is was made for with the correct approach.

Our 13 week program is there for a reason, it is well known that compliance and adherence to an exercise program are often the main hurdles to long term improvement. MD Health has implemented the 13 week program based on how long it actually takes to make physiological changes to your musculo-skeletal system. Some people may need more or less time. After this we want to encourage you to go ahead on your own. Some people prefer to keep attending our sessions and see even better results. Some manage quite well on their own at a gym or home and only come back if they have a niggle or new injury. Again, we try to help educate you to manage on your own; we believe you have the power to do it. Plus, no ones hands can not make your muscles stronger.

By Beth Chiuchiarelli
Exercise Physiologist


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