Mark Describes His Approach to Physiotherapy
I believe that you deserve the best possible healthcare for your time and hard-earned dollars. The health and wellness industry, including the physiotherapy world, can be a confusing and overwhelming place to navigate. Dry needling, shockwave therapy, cupping, needling, or (gasp!) exercise– which option is actually going to get you better? What are you supposed to look for in a physiotherapist?
There is quite a bit to look back upon over my first five years of practice. I have worked in several different clinics, with environments ranging from quiet and easy-going to high pressure and fast-paced. I’ve been able to help people with traumatic industrial injuries from the Alberta oilsands, traumatic brain injury, competitive sports teams, countless pre-and post-operative patients, and those with conditions and injuries that are sometimes just the product of everyday life. Prior to my career as a physiotherapist, I also put some considerable time working in research, having contributed to numerous scientific journals, which helped me to develop a critical eye for evaluating what works in my field and what might not. I’ve learned from some of the most well-respected practitioners in the profession and from many therapists at the ground level simply trying to make a living in helping others feel better. My own practice of course has changed and evolved along the way.
Here is what I have learned to be important and what has come to form the foundation of my treatment approach:
Education and empowerment
The best therapists are life-long learners, staying on top of the latest research and trends in the evolution of physiotherapy practice. They also know that passing on their knowledge to you the client can make a huge impact on your recovery. This comes first and requires dedicated on-one-one time. A 30-minute one-on-one visit still only makes up about 2% of your day, and you might only be going to therapy once or twice a week. What should you be doing for all those hours that you are on your own? What is causing your pain? Why did it happen? How do you know what pain is okay and what isn’t? Some injuries and conditions require lifestyle modifications to optimize recovery. Education addresses this, reduces fear and anxiety, and gives you the ability to return to normal movement with confidence. A physiotherapist should empower you with the tools to take charge of your recovery.
There is a great deal of debate in the physiotherapy world surrounding hands-on vs. hands-off treatment. I believe that human touch promotes recovery, and more research emerges every day to support that philosophy. The appropriate hands-on techniques can help you feel better and move better in the short term to allow you to work towards the long term. Skilled practitioners have hands-on techniques that are gentle but effective; quickly get things moving better while at the same time being sensitive to the fact that the patient is often already in pain and discomfort. For a more specific list of manual techniques, feel free to check out my profile on the Ascent website.
A focus on exercise and physical activity
Last but most definitely not least. Exercise is medicine. When it comes to many painful musculoskeletal conditions and injuries I believe that we can heal ourselves; we just need to be shown how. Exercise is your most powerful tool to do so. When your shoulder, knee, back, etc. gets sore, recovery involves more than just taking the pain away. Why did it happen in the first place? Most problems are a result of how we live our lives; its all about how we sit, stand, move. These factors may also influence how you recover from a traumatic injury such as a torn ligament. Without an in-depth assessment and a treatment plan that addresses such underlying imbalances, problems linger and some pains are likely to come back. I believe in carefully assessing for these issues, addressing them, and prescribing an exercise program that is practical and effective, and that can be done at home, incorporated into the gym, hobbies such as yoga, or even in the office.
At its heart, physiotherapy is about encouraging people to get moving. Exercise in general leads to greater pain relief, quality of life, and happiness.
As humans, our bodies and minds all vary tremendously. Different approaches work for different people and there are points here that I’m sure I’ve missed. However, what I have outlined in my opinion is universal and foundational to delivering the best possible treatment and paving the fastest route to get you back to doing what matters most to you. Find a therapist who listens to you, works with you, and employs the above to help you to lead your life to its fullest. I try my best to consider all these points during every visit. I’m always happy to help; feel free to contact me at any time if you’d like to discuss how physiotherapy might be of benefit to you, or call us at Ascent now to book in for a 60-minute one-on-one assessment.
Lastly, I’d like to extend my thanks to Scott and Ricki for welcoming me to their team at Ascent– I am looking forward to everything to come!
*Mark is at Ascent Monday-Friday and alternating Saturday mornings