Since training as a Sports Therapist I’ve adopted a new mantra: Question everything.
This sector is growing fast and every day new research crops up to prove or disprove the effectiveness of one treatment or another. Its a crazy time for sports therapy, full of learning, change, conflicting opinions and passionate debates – and I love it!
But when I say ‘question everything’ I don’t mean it in the style of a petulant child, just because you can, to wind people up! I simply mean that I don’t ever intend to stop learning, and part of that learning process is being prepared to challenge your beliefs and adapt your processes depending on emerging research and evidence.
To give you an example, I’ve worked with rugby players this last season and have been putting ice on injuries left, right and centre – it stops the swelling and helps ease the pain – simple! But then you read articles like this and suddenly you’re questioning everything…again!
But thats not to say I’m going to immediately ditch ice in my treatments – I’ve seen the application of ice to injury help ease serious pain, and if thats not a great benefit, I don’t know what is! Perhaps I’ll reconsider my recommendations to customers about using ice in the rehab process but I think its also important to consider the whole situation. If we don’t use ice to numb the pain are we just going to end up popping paracetamol or ibuprofen instead? Which is more damaging? Because if you take a read of this article you might well reconsider the next time you reach for the pain killers…
What then should we do when suffering pain? Just put up with it and wait? Or rather, choose our preferred management technique that works best for us! My personal choice to help soothe muscle pain would be ice, but that doesn’t mean it suits everyone else. Maybe it is just a placebo, but is that a bad thing?
And here is the important point – personal preference and individual circumstances are fundamental to sports therapy treatments. While we can read up on the latest research and provide advice with the best information we have to hand, it will always need to suit the customer’s lifestyle & what they want to get out of it. Sir Chris Hoy was all about regular, hard massages during his training sessions but then Shanaze Reade just likes a gentle rub down (ref) – completely different treatments for world class athletes, but both equally valuable as a part of their training processes.
Which is why we need to question everything! Just working at a cycling event this past weekend delivering 3 hours of non stop treatments, reminded me how different everyone is, each with their own perceived ‘weak spots’ and very different expectations – yet they were all cycling the same 100km route. There are so many blogs and journals out there discussing the effectiveness of every sports therapy treatment under the sun – and noone has yet come up with a definitive one-size-fits-all result. And lets face it, when everyone is so massively different, why would there ever be one single definite answer?
So for now I’ll keep on reading up on research, taking up new training opportunities, listening & responding to customer feedback, learning from experience and questioning everything.