Five Things To Look For In Your Therapist

Seeking professional advice for a sports injury is a smart decision. An expert assessment and diagnosis will help you get on top of your injury, and back into the sport or activity you love sooner and more safely. However choosing the right therapist for you can be a tricky decision. Here are five things I suggest to look out for in your therapist.

1: They Treat You as a Person (not just another appointment)

There’s a saying in the therapy world: “Treat the person, not the injury”. It’s important that your therapist recognises that they are treating a person and not just a knee or shoulder. Dealing with injury and pain should be a holistic process. Everyone has different goals and motivations. Each sport has it’s own unique demands, and the level you are at will also determine the correct treatment. Even your job and social situation will play a big part in how you approach rehabilitation. Your therapist should take the time to listen to your situation and your goals, and understand your knowledge, mindset and beliefs. The rehab plan will then be tailored to you and your circumstances. If you feel like you’ve been given a cookie-cutter rehab plan that doesn’t take your indivuality into account then you haven’t got the service you deserve.

Treat the Person - Not the Injury
Always treat the person, not just the injury

2: They Provide Aftercare

Sports therapy, physiotherapy or sports massage follow up forms
Follow-up documents are a great way of backing up the session

Physical therapy sessions can be overwhelming. With lots of information being thrown at you, exercises to remember and all the advice you’ve been given, it’s easy to forget everything the minute you leave the session. A good therapist will provide you with some sort of aftercare. A reminder of what was discussed in the session will help to clarify things. Reminders of the exercises, preferably with pictures or videos is also crucial. Every session I have that requires it will have a full follow-up document provided with all of this, as well as links to additional reading to help my clients deal with their injuries.

3: They Educate You

It’s common for technical language to be overused in therapy sessions. This may be because the therapist wants to appear intelligent and knowledgable. It also may simply be that they don’t understand the need to provide their knowledge in an accessible way. When you are experienced in a subject, it’s easy to forget that others don’t share your expertise. Often what happens here is that the client just nods along. They they don’t want to appear stupid, so they stay quiet, and they leave the session no better off.

I believe that if a client understands their issues, they will understand the rehabilitation process more – why they are doing certain exercises, how the principles involved apply through to other exercises, sport and their lifestyle. This will ultimately lead to higher compliance with their rehab routines and therefore a better success rate in recovery.

My aim is to have my clients leave my sessions with all the knowledge they need to manage their injury. They may need future sessions to progress their treatment, but I want them to understand exactly where they’re at, what they need to do, and why they need to do it.

4: They Are Honest, With No Ego

Honesty is an important trait in all walks of life. When working with people that are putting their trust in you and your knowledge, it is paramount.  There are very few “miracle” cures in the world of physical therapy. Beware of the therapist that constantly posts on their social media of how their client “walked out of here good as new”. Yes, there are times when issues can be instantly resolved, but the vast majority of pain issues take time and effort on the behalf of the client. I am always open about this with my clients and will make sure that they know things aren’t going to change overnight, especially with long standing injuries. I will however be with them every step of the way along the rehab process.

It’s also important to know that no therapist knows everything. The human body is an extremely complex machine with many mysteries. Sometimes we come across issues that are not easily dealt with. In my opinion it is better to be honest with clients about this and work with them to come to a solution. The alternative is to quote some complex pseudoscience to the client, perform some unnecessary manual therapy then send them away with an inappropriate exercise routine and a recommendation to come back next week.

5: They Are Passionate

The best therapists are the ones that love their career. Those that do are constantly looking for ways to learn and improve. They are in the business first and foremost to help people.

If you’re a sportsperson then finding a therapist that is active in sport themselves is important. Athletes have a particular mindset and it takes a fellow athlete to understand that and relate to it.

A good therapist will have an affinity with their clients and always be concerned with their outcomes as this is the reason we signed up for this job – because we want to help you get better, to live a pain-free life and to compete in the sports you love.

As a keen fell runner I'm able to relate to the athlete mindset

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