12 things your physio really wish you knew

Working as a Physio for over two decades seems to reinforce many common themes.

Here are the 12 things your Physio wish you knew about your injury and management.

It’s 12 things that they’re probably too polite to say or didn’t want to sound critical of another practitioner.

But these 12 things will help you understand the process and your injury for a better outcome.

If you can add to our 12 things, head to our Facebook page and let us know your tips.

Managing expectation

#1 Motivation can’t change tissue healing rates

Wanting to return to sport sooner doesn’t change the way tissue heals.

Motivation is great to help build strength faster, or get fit quicker, but it doesn’t make cell regeneration speed up.

#2 Short cuts very rarely lead to the right destination

If there was a faster/easier way, the medical world would just adopt that method and ditch the old slow approach.

If it hasn’t become the new normal, then the shortcut is most likely a distraction. PRP is probably one of the best current examples of this.

#3 There are (almost) no fixed limits

The body’s ability to adapt will always surprise you. Statements like “my doctor said I can never run again” completely miss this point.

You might have to work harder than others and be more patient, but if you provide the body with the right stimulus and time to respond, the sky’s the limit for almost everyone.

The Online World

#4 Social media is a bad place to get medical advice

Social media went from chatting with friends to a trusted source of information on politics, celebrities and medical advice.

Unfortunately that level of trust is misplaced with so much misinformation from reliable-sounding sources.

#5 Dr Google isn’t a great place for a diagnosis, but it’s a decent library of info after a proper diagnosis

We’ve all heard funny stories of Dr Google’s suggested diagnoses but your Physio rates it as a great source of info (if you know where to look).

Many trusted sites, with qualified authors and peer review processes, can actually provide very helpful info and improve your understanding of the injury.

Getting active

#6 Rest cures nothing

As point #3 above says, the body is wonderfully adaptive to the stimulus applied to it. But if that stimulus is next to nothing, the body heads that way pretty quickly.

Rest leads to loss of strength, fitness, flexibility and more. It’s one of the biggest causes of delayed recovery and re-injury.

#7 “Dose dependent relationship” is a polite way of saying “not doing your exercises won’t achieve the outcome”

If your Physio explains that exercise is “dose dependent”, that basically means that your improvements are proportional to your completed exercise sessions.

So if you don’t do your exercises, well…doing nothing gets nothing basically. And when exercise is the best approach to fix most injuries, it’s worth finding 10 minutes a day for it.

#8 Stretching doesn’t actually lengthen muscle

One of the most resilient myths in the exercise world is that stretching lengthens muscle.

It doesn’t. Research has confirmed that countless times.

What it can do is compromise (read: re-injure) healing tissue, aggravate tight nerves and overload inflamed joints.

Although the urge to stretch can feel overwhelming, listen to your Physio on that one.

#9 ITB rolling is a waste of time

Another resilient myth is good ol’ ITB foam rolling. “I do it because my friend/coach told me to” and “it hurts like hell but I have to do it” are common explanations.

The ITB (on the side of the thigh) is a dense band of connective tissue. It doesn’t shorten or tighten and it never needs compressing – it actually hates compression, just like every other connective tissue.

All ITB rolling tends to do is irritate the bursa (little pads behind the ITB at the hip and knee) and compress the hip. And if something only produces negative results, why are we still doing it?

Medical management

#10 Your X-ray looked like that years before your pain started

The typical story is that a 40-50 year old has knee pain for 3 weeks, doctor orders a scan and, shock horror, there’s arthritis! “Best if you stop running because your knees are wearing away“, says the doctor.

But the truth is that your knee looked like that well before your 3 weeks of pain. It probably looked like that for the last 10 years. You ran successfully for 9 years and 11 months with that knee but suddenly you need to stop?!?

X-rays of arthritic change provide a context to a normal aging process. We all move perfectly well and pain-free for decades with arthritis so ugly scans aren’t the beginning of the end.

#11 Getting a second opinion is not “cheating on your physio”

Any Physio confident in their management doesn’t mind another Physio reviewing the situation. If they’re right, it’ll reinforce that you’re on the right path.

Getting a second opinion doesn’t offend your Physio, particularly if you’re not getting results. Discuss the second opinion with them as it’ll help refine their management.

#12 Be honest and open and let your Physio decide if it’s relevant

Withholding information because you’re embarrassed or don’t think it’s relevant makes it very difficult for your Physio to effectively manage your injury.

Be honest and forthcoming with all the info and let your Physio consider if it’s relevant. And never be afraid that we’ll judge you harshly because of your choices – we’re there to help you, not to judge you.