30 Thoughts for 30 Years
Updated: May 5, 2022
Well, if you are reading this then I made it: I turned 30 today. I am not a huge birthday person, I think that they are really just another day. However, I am trying to be more introspective and reflect upon lessons that I have learned. I usually don’t absorb information the first time I am exposed to it, so I have been going back and looking at what I have learned and trying to put it into context. I wanted to challenge myself and come up with 30 lessons I have learned: 10 in PT, 10 in strength and conditioning, and 10 in business. I hope to come back to this list and update it as I learn and grow. I can definitely say that I have changed my mind on a lot of things over the last few years, and I’m sure that will continue to happen. Let’s dive in:
10 Things in PT
Listen more than you talk. I used to want to impress every client with my bountiful knowledge. Then I realized that a lot of problems can just be solved by listening to their symptoms and complaints. I do a lot more listening than I used to.
Be patient with recovery. I am a bit of a perfectionist and I want things to work quickly or I get frustrated. When I have clients come to me in pain, I want to fix it quickly and send them on their way. Setbacks happen when you are too aggressive and I find myself being more cautious now. Missing one extra game is better than rushing back and being out for a few more weeks.
Manual therapy helps. There are a lot of prejudices against manual therapy right now online and in person. Some coaches and PTs will think that passive therapy is useless because it doesn’t transfer. I disagree. If I can help someone feel better then there is buy in to what I am doing and the client understands that their pain can be changed. That’s a powerful thing.
Follow up your manual therapy with something to maintain your gains. Benefits from manual therapy are transient, they do not last forever and you need to take advantage of them. Teaching a client how to move and showing them that they can do it with little or no pain sets the table for recovery.
Give time for recovery. Most of my clients are in school. We discount how draining it is to be in school, have practice, and then do homework and study. Sometimes kids need a break. That doesn’t make them weak. Go easy on a kid who needs to use the compression boots or Marc Pro instead of hammering out a few more sets in the weight room.
We usually aren’t making grand changes to tissue. Fascia, muscles, tendons, and everything else in your body is resilient. By scraping, needling, massaging, stretching, etc. we are not really changing the nature of it. However, we are giving novel inputs to the nervous system and changing pain sensitivity. These are powerful tools, but not in the way we used to think of them.
The ultimate goal is to get back on the field. It is great if a client has no pain on the table. My job isn’t done until they are pitching or running pain-free. Whatever their goal is, I want to see them from the starting line to the finish line.
If an intervention doesn’t work, move on. As I progress as a PT, I get a lot more tools in my toolbox. I will usually take the simplest route first and then move on from there. So, if a shoulder is tight, look at the shoulder muscles and see if they need to be mobilized. If that doesn’t work, then look at other areas such as the neck, thoracic spine, rib cage, etc.
The simplest intervention that the client can replicate is best. When I first started, I utilized dry needling a lot more than I do now. I also wanted to have people perform the sexiest exercise possi