Career Advice Article Archives

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6 Things You Do That Your Clients Hate

6 thing you do that your clients hateIt’s funny, over the years you start to accumulate several thoughts on a subject that one can only do through experience.  The old saying “if only I knew then what I knew now” is certainly true.  I often laugh at some of the things I did and say to my clients when I was less experienced.  We were having this discussion with our students at Champion the other day, and I consider this a normal part of your career advancement.

In addition to reflecting on your own personal practice, I think there is also a lot to learn about from your clients when they tell you their past experiences with other professionals.

I tend to see a lot of clients that have tried other health care and fitness professionals and for whatever reason find themselves with me after not achieved the results that they wanted.  In my experience, this is often due to a few reasons:

  1. They didn’t listen
  2. They didn’t connect
  3. They didn’t put in the time

 

Notice how none of these things are “clinical” in nature.  Sure, I see my fair share of clients that were not diagnosed well or treated properly, but in all reality, I’m not perfect either.  But I listen, connect, and put in the time.  This allows my the luxury of being able to call an audible with my clients when I feel we may have started down the wrong path.  They trust me.  If they didn’t trust me, they’d move on to the next clinician.

How about these two comments I received recently from clients about their past experiences with other professionals.

  • “All my therapist did was tell me what I was doing wrong.  I know what I am doing wrong, that’s why I went to therapy.”
  • “I left my last therapist and always felt bad about myself.  They made me feel bad about myself.”

 

For the young clinicians (and I guess the more experienced one’s too!), I want to share some of the things I have picked up over the years that clients hate.  Remember, you need to connect in order to do you best with your clients.  Learn from my mistakes and errors and avoid these 6 things you do that your clients hate!

 

Stare at Your Device

I can’t think of a worse way to start off your experience with a healthcare professional than having them stare at their computer and typing while asking you a series of questions.  Not a great way to connect and help your client feel like your are compassionate about them, rather than just trying to finish your “task” of their evaluation.  I still take notes briefly when pencil and paper and do my documentation afterwards.  Sure, it takes more time out of my day, but it’s the right thing to do.

This also goes for staring at your phone their whole session.  You could be responding to a highly urgent and work-related email, but realize your clients will just assume your are posting pics of your kittens on Facebook.  Excuse yourself and respond to an urgent message if you must, but don’t do it right in front of your client.  This looks like they are not important to you at the moment.  Otherwise, keep your phone in your pocket.

I’m not sure if the Apple Watch is going to help us here or hurt us, we’ll see!

Your client needs to feel like they are the most important person in the world to you during their session.

 

Don’t Listen to Them

Your first interaction with someone is really important for several reasons.  Obviously you need to determine where to start with your client, but it’s also the most critical interaction to development a connection.

This starts with letting them talk.  You want to hear their story.  Some will want to get right to the point, while others will want to elaborate.  Let this happen.  Don’t interrupt if you can, and let them lead the discussion.

As I get more experience, the subjective portion of my exam could really only last 30 seconds for me to have enough information to start looking at the client.  However, I have learned that a big part of connecting with your clients is listening to your client.  You need to provide the platform for them to share what they want with you.

 

Force Feed What You Want Instead of What They Want

It’s not about you.  Starting with this simple concept is a great start.

As an example, perhaps a client comes to you and says “kinesiology tape really makes me feel better.”  How do you think they’ll respond when you say, “Your shoulder pain is coming from signals in your brain, kinesiology tape won’t help that and doesn’t really do anything.”  Ummm, probably poorly.

You said that kinesiology tape “doesn’t do anything” and they said it “really helps.”  That sounds like conflict, not connecting, to me.

In all honesty, we don’t know as much as we think we do about the human body.  I have no problem providing a treatment, such as kinesiology tape, if there will be no harm, no long term consequence, and there is no definitive research saying it is ineffective.  Obviously, if scientific evidence is available to completely say something is ineffective that changes the topic.

Don’t get me wrong, I will do what I want to do with that client, but may also try some kinesiology tape as well.  Perhaps that makes my treatments even more effective.

Another great example in the fitness world is the focus on movement and corrective exercises.  I think this is great, but don’t lose focus.  If someone comes to you for fat loss and all you talk about is how poor they move and how you want to fix their asymmetrical 1 on the FMS straight leg raise, you are forcing what you want on the client, and not focusing on what they want.  They don’t give care at all about what their straight leg raise looks like.

Again, I think you should work on that movement pattern.  But that can’t be the focus of the program.  It has to meet their goals first.  Sure, we sneak our goals into our programs too, but be careful here.

 

Tell Them Everything That is Wrong with Them and Nothing That is Right

I think we all get carried away sometimes with finding “deficits” during our assessments and evaluations.  That is normal.  But we need to be careful with how we present this to our clients.

Some people will focus too much on the little things, while others will seem just feel bad about themselves.

Every client should leave your facility feeling better, more optimistic, and in a good mood.  You want to be one of the best parts of your clients’ days.

I’ve actually talked about this in the past in an article on The Dale Carnegie Approach to Assessments.

 

Talk Over Their Head

As you can see, communication and people skills are pretty valuable in our professions.  Another area that I often see as being an issues is not bringing the discussion to your client’s level.

Just like you should be trying to match your clients’ energy levels, I also try to bring my discussion to their level as well.

Students and young clinicians are often guilty of this for a few of reasons:

  1. They are used to talked scientifically to justify what they are doing to their professors
  2. They haven’t accumulated that database of analogies we all use on our heads
  3. Unfortunately, they are a little too egotistical and trying to impress the person with how much they know

Confusing someone and talking over their head is not going to impress someone.  Some people like to hear all the detailed scientific things, while others just shut you out.  You need to feel this out and adjust.  However, your ability to convey your points and messages in a manner that connects with each person will impress them.

I use several different tools to accomplish this based on how I feel the conversation is going, but my go-to methods are:

  1. Using pictures and videos during my evaluation
  2. Using analogies to compare a complicated point to one they understand.  Car analogies work well!  Things like, “it’s like driving with your wheels out of alignment, eventually your tires are going to wear down unevenly.”
  3. Using a whiteboard to express thoughts.  This doesn’t always just mean drawing a picture.  I also often write and make lists.  Some people are more visual learners.  You can usually tell when they whip out their phone to take a pic of the whiteboard when you are done!

They key is to give them the science but don’t stop there, back it up with something they can understand.

 

Criticize Their Other Healthcare Professionals and Past Experience

I’m surprised at how common this point is in our professions.  I have many clients that have commented on how other professionals they have worked with in the past just criticize everyone else they have and had worked with in the past.  Like a personal training putting down their physical therapist or their physical therapist putting down their chiropractor, as a couple of examples.  Realize that your client has probably built up a lot of trust and respect over the years for the other people they are working with, which have not currently built up.

Not only does this make the person feel bad about their past choices (see above), but it’s also very transparent that you are just slamming someone else to try to make yourself look good.

I have a general rule of thumb that I developed over the years after seeing many “prestigious” people commit this error – Don’t make others look bad to make yourself look better.  It may work in the short term, but always catches up to you.

Yes, you are a genius when you have the power of hindsight.  Everything is clearer in retrospect.  Be respectful of their other people your client is seeing and has seen, you aren’t always right.

 

In reality, I probably could have listed another dozen, but these are a great start.  Avoid these 6 things that you do that your clients hate and focus on connecting, listening, and putting in the time to maximize your own effectiveness in helping people achieve their goals.

 

 

 

7 Habits of Highly Effective Rehab and Fitness Professionals

The latest Inner Circle webinar recording on the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Rehab and Fitness Professionals.

7 Habits of Highly Effective Rehab and Fitness Professionals

7 Habits of Highly Effective Rehab and Fitness ProfessionalsI’m always getting questions from young professionals (and older ones too!) about what they can do to get ahead in our profession.  It’s one thing to simply want to get ahead and another to actually make daily habits designed to help you get there.  It takes effort.  Here are what I consider 7 of the habits that I see many of the top rehab and fitness pros stick to in their lives to get ahead.

How to Work with Professional Athletes

The latest Inner Circle webinar recording on the How to Work with Professional Athletes is now available.

How to Work with Professional AthletesHow to Work with Professional Athletes

Last month’s Inner Circle webinar was on How to Work with Professional Athletes.  A good portion of our clientele at Champion PT and Performance are professional athletes.

In this presentation, I discuss some of the many things I have learned in my career about working with professional athletes.  I’ll discuss what this involves, pearls from the perspective of the player, agent, and team, as well as recommendations on how to break in with professional sports.

5 Things We Can All Learn from Derek Jeter

5 Things We Can All Learn From Derek JeterGrowing up in Boston as a Red Sox fan, I never thought I’d be writing an article about Derek Jeter (we all know that Nomah is bettah than Jettah…).  I think that working in Major League Baseball for so many years and having the opportunity to work with players from every Major League team has made me a bigger fan of the game in general.  (Photo Credit)

Perhaps I’ve lost some of the magic, but I’m just as much of a Yankees fan as I am a fan of the Red Sox and a fan of every other MLB team. 

I’m a fan of an excellent performance.  I’m a fan watching young players blossom.  I’m a fan of watching the game played the right way.  I’m a fan of the players I work with and help become better.  I’m a fan of the game, so I’m a fan of Derek Jeter.

5 Things We Can All Learn from Derek Jeter

As Jeter says his farewell to baseball, it made me think about what we can all learn from his amazing career.  Here are 5 things about Derek Jeter that stand out to me.

Discipline

There is a big difference between willpower and discipline.  Chris Brogan speaks about this well in his latest book The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth.  People often ask me how I have the time or willpower to contribute to my website, make more programs, own a physical therapy and performance center, and still somehow have a life and family.

As Chris says, it has nothing to do with willpower, it’s all discipline.  Chris says:

“Willpower is when you want to do something different and force yourself to do what you believe is the better choice.”  Discipline is actually working hard to REPEAT the task that you know will make you better.

Do you think Jeter took a lot of days off from batting practice?  Do you think Jeter had donuts for breakfast every morning?  You think Jeter showed up late to the park and was unprepared for the game?

Nope.

I get it, there are a lot of conflicting interests in this world.  Discipline is crafting your long term vision of what you want out of your life and then making decisions based on this vision.

Consistency

Honestly, what good is discipline with out consistency?  I would say the two things that impressed me most about Jeter’s career were his discipline and his consistency.

Take a look at Jeter’s career stats over at Baseball-Reference.com.

Notice a trend here?  There are really no significant dips and jumps in his performance.  Sure there are some years that are better than others, but that is one heck of a consistent career.

To illustrate this, lets compare his rookie year of 1996 to 2012:

  • 1996 – 157 games, .314 batting average, 104 runs, 10 home runs, 78 RBIs, and 14 steals
  • 2012 – 159 games, .316 batting average, 99 runs, 15 home runs, 58 RBIs, and 9 steals

Pretty impressive to be that consistent over 20 years and 2700 games. 

Consistency breads dependability and trust.  We are developing a systemized approach to our model of integrated physical therapy, fitness, and sports performance at Champion Physical Therapy and Performance.  Why?  So we can build a reliable service to our clients with repeatable and predictable results.

Want to get ahead in life?  Focus on consistency.

Lead By Example (Positively)

There are many different kinds of leaders in this world.  There are the loud and vocal leaders, the motivators, the “pump up the crowd” kind of people.  The ones that want the attention and lead to gain the spotlight.  The manic-depressive crowd.

There are also the quite and consistent leaders that lead by example.

Leading isn’t necessarily a good thing, there are many examples of “negative” leaders.  People that are captivating and engaging and actually set the WRONG example!  Like it or not, these are leaders. 

But luckily there are also the “positive” leaders.  The leaders that set the example, that push others just by being so disciplined and consistent. 

In the long run, I’ll take the type of leaders like Jeter, the positive leaders that consistently lead by example.  To me, this is as much educating and motivating, as it is leading.  This is what young professionals need to learn.

And don’t forget, this applies to anyone.  You can lead others in any direction, meaning you do not have to be in a position of authority to be a leader.  John Maxwell has an excellent book on this call The 360 Degree Leader

Don’t Rock the Boat

One of the most interesting things about Jeter to me is how neutral he has stayed on everything throughout his career.  While I’m sure he had plenty of opinions, it’s usually not in anyone’s best interest to blurt them out every night on SportsCenter.

Many of the “guru’s” on the internet should really take this one to heart.  Unfortunately controversy sells.  However, realize we are all probably going to change our opinions and adjust our thought process based on past experiences and knowledge gained.

Don’t be that person that is so definitive in their thought process AND doesn’t mind telling the world about it!  Have an open mind and try to avoid rocking the boat, it always comes back to haunt you!

When you are so vocal about something, you start to focus on defending your stance instead of keeping an open mind.

Treat Everyone the Right Way

One of the sentiments within baseball is that Jeter is a “good guy.”  I’ve had the opportunity to meet Jeter several times.  I’ve seen him walk into the training room of an All-Star game just to introduce himself and say hello to the staff.  Not everyone does that, in fact most don’t.

Baseball has a funny way of changing people.  The players have everything in the world given to them and are treated as rock stars at all times.  Imagine arriving at a hotel at 4:00 AM and having a line of people asking for your autograph as you get off the bus!  It’s hard to stay grounded.

Treating people the right way is the corner stone of any relationship.  You are not a better human or person in this world because you can hit a fastball, or because you have accumulated $275 million dollars over your baseball career.  These may be extreme examples, but it applies to us all.

 

As we move on today as the first official day in the last 20 years that Derek Jeter is not a professional baseball player, keep these 5 principles in mind.  Yankee fan or not, there are plenty of things we can all learn from Jeter’s amazing career.

One Step Back to Take Two Steps Forward

Lately, I’ve found myself using a certain phrase with many of my clients to emphasize a point I’m trying to make, “sometimes you need to take one step back to take two steps forward.”  I specifically emphasize that this is a lot different than the phrase “two steps forward, one step back,” which often has a negative connotation.

Perhaps it’s our always-on, go-go-go, society that we live in now that wants nothing but progress, but this concept has many meanings to both myself and my clients.  Here are a few ways I incorporate this concept into my training, rehabilitation, and even personal development.

 

Fitness and Performance Training

As fitness trends continue to evolve and fads come and go, there are always two common complaints that I hear from people in regard to their training programs:

  • I’m not making progress
  • I’m breaking down

Either of these two complaints is enough for me to consider that you may need to take a step back.  These tend to occur when your programming is not individualized based on your own specific needs and goals or when your always focused on “emptying the tank” every session.

workout exhaustion

Assuming you have a well-design strength or performance training program, the error tends to occur by always focusing on pushing the limits and not allowing your body to recover.  If you are training to failure or competing at fitness every day, you have to be conscious of the fact that eventually this breaks down your body.  This is normal, required to make progress, and advantageous, at least when used correctly.  (photo credit)

However, to continue to make long lasting gains and avoid wearing and tearing on your joints and muscles, you need to incorporate some sort of deloading into your programming.  I won’t go deep into the concept of deloading, as other people that are smarter than I am have said it well before.  Here is a great article by Tony Gentilcore on why and how he incorporates deloading into his programming, for example.

When do you need to unload?  It varies based on your training experience, intensity, and frequency.  Rather than standardize a deload period, I have a simple criteria to determine if you need a deload week – are you plateauing your progress or are you breaking down?  Simple.

But realize that deloading does not mean resting.  Our deload periods at Champion take advantage of the time and work on enhancing efficiency and cleaning up movement patterns.

Also note, this concept applies to sports performance training.  If you are 12 years old and long tossing in October to enhance your pitching velocity for next April, you really need to get better advice from someone that understands the concepts of periodization.

 

Injury Rehabilitation

I’m a big fan of “regen days.”  Often times during injury rehabilitation, people are trying to get back as soon as possible.  For the highly motivated person, like the professional athlete, they often feel like they have to get after the rehab program every day to get back as fast as possible.  I have actually found that this often SLOWS the process down!

As an example, in professional baseball, we play everyday.  Maybe we have 2 or 3 days off a month.  Sunday is usually a day game and getaway day, meaning that we need wake up early, pack our bags, check out of the hotel, play the game, then travel to another city.  I was always a fan of taking Sundays off from rehab in professional baseball, and I was often looked at like I had two heads.

I seriously doubt we are going to make any significant gains on a Sunday morning waking up at 7:00 AM and rehabbing when last night’s game ended at 11:00 PM and you were in bed at 2:00 AM.  We just crushed it all week in rehab, it’s time for a break.  Get some good sleep and take the day off – both physically AND mentally!

That’s just one example.  For the athlete that may be rehabbing daily, I often build my rehab programs with altering variables throughout the week depending on what phase of the program they are currently performing.  For example, I often do a three day split with my baseball players:

  • Day 1 – Strength based
  • Day 2 – Stability based
  • Day 3 – Regen

Again, “regen day” does not mean rest, but I can’t keep taxing the system every day.  During the early phases of rehab, perhaps the first month or two after Tommy John surgery, we don’t need this as the training stimulus is not high enough, but once you start incorporating more advanced exercises and eventually throwing, this concept becomes important.

I always tell my clients – take a step back and you’ll come back twice as ready to go.  By the end of the week, most of my clients are pretty beat down and ready for a nice weekend to recover.  On Monday morning, they are ready to roll again.  This is how you make big gains week-to-week in the rehab process.

 

Personal Development

studyingLastly, I use this concept all the time in my own personal development.  We’ve all probably been in a place where we felt that the programs we are writing or how we were coaching our athletes was perfect.  And I bet it was.  But it was only perfect for that single day.  As we continue to learn, grow, and develop, I push all of the team at Champion PT and Performance to challenge themselves.  I want them all to look back at a program they wrote several months or years ago and think “I would write that completely different now.”  (Photo credit)

That doesn’t mean that your program was poorly designed before, it means you have evolved your thought process and progressed yourself.

If you are writing the same programs all the time or can look back and your programs a year later are the same as last year, you are better than that.  Take a step back, challenge yourself intellectually, learn something, evolve, and take two giants steps forward.

 

Taking a step back to take two steps forward doesn’t have to be negative.  It’s still progress.  Consider these tips and incorporate theses concepts into your training, rehabilitation, and personal development.

 

 

3 Mistakes Coaches Make When Training Women

Tony GentilcoreToday’s guest post comes from strength and conditioning guru Tony Gentilcore.  As one of the premier strength coaches and co-founder of Cressey Sports Performance, Tony knows how to train people and get results.  There are many misconceptions in strength training women.  Tony provides a great article on some of the mistakes he commonly sees when coaching female clients.

 

3 Mistakes Coaches Make When Training Women

Before I begin lets address the obvious.  I’m not a woman.  I’m a dude. And as such, like most dudes, I have a strong affinity for old school Arnold Schwarzenegger movies, Star Wars, Rocky I, II, III, and IV (but not V), Rocky Balboa was eh, beef jerky, tanks, and leaving the toilet seat up. 

To save face, however, I’m not what you would call a “guys guy.” I like to buy flowers for my girlfriend just because, I’ve watched every episode of Sex and the City (true story), and, while I’m sure I’m going to catch some flak for admitting this and run the risk of losing my Man Card, I’m rather fond of the occasional pedicure (also, true story!).

Pop culture references and societal norm commentary aside, I’ve been in the fitness industry for a little over twelve years now, and in that time I’ve trained my fair share women.  Some have been elite athletes – ranging anywhere from world-class triathletes to Olympic hopefuls – in addition to both collegiate and high school athletes. Moreover I’ve also worked with a gulf of women in the general fitness population from varying demographics with any number of varying goals and needs (not to mention training experience).

On top of that, throughout my career, outside of my current role as strength coach (and co-founder) at Cressey Sports Performance, I’ve had the opportunity to work with female athletes and clients in both the corporate and commercial gym setting.

In short:  I’ve seen it all and feel I have a well-rounded perspective on the topic of “female specific” training. 

It’s on that note I’d like to discuss some of the universal mistakes I’ve observed numerous coaches and trainers make when it comes to working with and training female clients.  Here are my top 3 mistakes coaches make when training women.

 

Buying Into the Term “Female Specific” Training

do-women-need-to-train-different-than-menI don’t deny the fact there’s an array of differences between the female and male body – both anatomically and physiologically.

Boys have boy down there parts and girls have girl down there parts. We all learned that fairly young in life. Also, hormonally speaking, there’s quite a bit of diversity between men and women – the most obvious of which is the different levels of testosterone and estrogen.

Although estrogens are thought of as female sex hormones and androgens are considered male hormones, both men and women make hormones in both groups, with different ratios depending on gender.

Men have much higher levels of testosterone (which explains why it’s much easier for men to add muscle and stay a lower body fat level), and women have higher levels of estrogen.  We don’t need to go into the deep science on hormones for the sake of this article, but we’d be remiss not to at least note that hormones do enter the equation.

When working with females one (or more) of the following scenarios will affect how we go about training them:

  • Athletic Amenorrhea (losing your period).
  • Pregnancy Training
  • Training for Menopause
  • Menstrual cycle (this will HIGHLY dictate training and nutrition).

We DO need to consider “stuff,” and we absolutely should not make light of any of the above talking points.

However, I don’t really buy into the whole “female specific” training mindset – especially if we’re referring to a healthy, non-injured client/athlete.

The human body is the human body and whenever I work with a female client I treat her just as I treat my male clients. I assess them, look at their movement quality, figure out if there are any red flags from a postural and alignment standpoint, and if we’re in the clear, they’re going to squat, deadlift, push, pull, carry, and lunge just like everyone else.

I don’t do “girl” pushups with my female clients.  I do pushups (and progress and regress accordingly).  I don’t do “light weight/high reps” because they’re girls, either.  They TRAIN just like everyone else.

Which serves as nice segue to my next point.

 

Stop Using Terms Like “Sexy” and “Toned”

Walk into any grocery or convenience store and peruse the magazine shelves and you’re bound to notice an endless barrage of words like “sexy” and “toned” directed towards women.

Conversely, guys are inundated with terms like “jacked” and “chiseled” and “gainzzzz” and other bro-tastic adjective you can think of.

For women, I don’t like the connotation the mainstream media beats over their heads.  And I certainly don’t like the message it conveys. Is it any wonder why so many women (young and old) are programmed into thinking they have to look a certain way to fit our lame societal norms? It sucks.

When I start working with a female client I try to gravitate towards terms like “strength” or “athletic” or “performance”…..because I feel they’re more empowering and have a less nefarious tone to them.

And speaking of performance……

 

Stress It!!!!

If there’s one thing I can universally point to that separates female clients from male clients it’s that male clients compare themselves to themselves, while female clients compare themselves to other females.

Put another way, most of the time (not always) male clients will be more concerned with what he weighed last month or what he lifted last week. He’ll almost always lean towards being more temporal minded and compare himself to himself.

This isn’t to say that guys aren’t competitive with other guys – I’ve seen way too many improvisational “deadlift offs” to state otherwise. But rather, generally speaking, most male athletes and clients are more concerned with competing against himself and setting performance based goals.

Conversely, most women (not all) are more societal comparative.  Meaning they’ll lean more towards comparing themselves to other women.

And don’t play it off as it that’s not true ladies!  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been out with my girlfriend walking around the city and out of nowhere she’ll blurt out something like “That girl should not be wearing that!”  When was the last time you heard a guy do that?  Never.  NEVER!!!!!!  Crocs don’t count.

But back to my main point.

As an example I once had a 50+ year-old female client get flummoxed whenever she trained at the same time as a 22 year-old ex-Division I decathlete.  She’d routinely compare herself to the younger woman and wonder why she didn’t look like her despite being twice her age!  Mind you, she looked amazing!  She’d always get compliments on her work ethic and physique – but sadly they fell on deaf ears.

To help combat this mentality, as a coach I continually make an effort to not place precedence on physique or weight goals, but rather performance goals – especially with women.  Of course if someone’s goal is to lose weight for health reasons or they’re a physique competitor, I’m all for it. Their training will reflect that goal. 

However, I often find that by stressing performance based goals like being able to perform their first unassisted, bodyweight chinup or squatting 1x their bodyweight for reps or being able to conquer their first Tough Mudder, it sets a much better tone moving forward.

In general I find that strength is an often UNDER-stressed quality pursued by women (and men), and I LOVE when a woman finally has that “light bulb” moment and recognizes that strength is a beautiful thing and something to be revered and embraced.

When that happens, cool things follow.

 

 

The Funny Things Our Patients Say

Today’s guest post comes from frequent contributor Trevor Winnegge.  Trevor shares a great, and fun, article on some of the funny things our patients and clients say!  I thought it would be good to mix it up and have a fun article on here!  Even better, I threw in a funny pic of a dog that looks like it is laughing, what a week (photo credit)!  More importantly, Trevor just starts the discussion, please comment and share some of your “Funny Things Our Patients Say” too!

 

The Funny Things Our Patients Say

Funny Things Our Patients SayAs I Listened to my partial medial menisectomy patient describe his injury to another patient, I had to chuckle to myself. “I blew out my knee. The doctor had to do a complete reconstruction of my meniscus and cartilage.”  It was this statement that lead me to think of the funny things we, as physical therapists, hear on a day to day basis. And it inspired me to write this guest post today.

 

Rotor Cup

Anyone who has worked in an outpatient setting treating shoulders has no doubt heard this one. Instead of a patient saying rotator cuff, we hear “rotor cup”, “rotatory cup”, “rotor cuff”.  It always comes up and puts us therapists in an awkward position. Do we correct them and say “it is actually called the rotator cuff”? We run the risk of the patient thinking we are rude for correcting them. However, if we use their words and refer to it as “rotor cup”, now others in the room or in society think we are crazy. I always tactfully correct, but still laugh to myself when I hear it.  This never gets old.

 

Broken

Just last week, I evaluated a patient with a fractured fibula. Upon evaluation, I ask the patient “So how did you break your ankle?” I was quickly corrected not once, but twice by the patient. First, they said “I didn’t break my bone, I fractured it.” Well then, I stand corrected. So much for putting it into laymans terms for the patient. What came next was even more priceless, “And it wasn’t my ankle, it was this bone here (pointing), the fibia”. Ahh yes, the fibia. My mistake.

 

Simply the worst

Another of my favorite patient quotes is “the doctor said it was the worst (insert injury here) they have ever seen.”  Some patients like to glorify their injury, and wear it like a badge of honor. Telling people the doctor has never seen worse is a good way to glorify it for sure.

 

These are just a few of the MANY funny things we hear on a daily basis from our patients. I encourage everyone to comment on this post with their favorite patient-isms. This should be a fun post! I look forward to reading all of them!

About

Trevor WinneggeTrevor Winnegge PT,DPT,MS,OCS,CSCS  has been practicing PT for over 13 years. He graduated from Northeastern University with a Bachelors in PT and a Master of Science Degree. He also graduated from Temple University with a Doctor of physical therapy degree. He is a board certified specialist in orthopedics and also a certified strength and conditioning specialist. He is adjunct faculty at Northeastern University, teaching courses in orthopedics and differential diagnosis. He currently practices at Sturdy Orthopedics and Sports Medicine Associates in Attleboro MA, where he treats many orthopedic and sports medicine patients.

 

Assess Don’t Assume

SFMAI was fortunate last week to swing by and watch my friend Mike Voight teach the SFMA in Boston.  I met Mike’s co-instructors Josh Satterlee and Brandon Gilliam and was impressed with the course.  I have been SFMA certified for some time but I wanted to hear Mike’s take on the system.

I wanted to share with everyone a key theme that was presented that I thought was worth expanding on and sharing.  During one of the introductory presentations, Josh talked about how important the assessment process was and without it, we are just guessing.  This goes along with what I always say, “assess, don’t assume.” [Click to Tweet]

One of the points that was made was that sometimes we get lucky.

Perhaps your client can’t touch their toes and you instruct them to stretch their hamstrings.  Now this person can easily touch their toes.  Take a guess what you are probably going to tell the next 50 people that can’t touch their toes to do?  Probably stretch their hamstrings, because it worked so well on that first person!

We have all been guilty of getting stuck in our box of techniques.  Every time we go to a new seminar or learn something new on the internet, we try it on everyone.  Perhaps we get lucky and hit a bullseye on a few of those people.

We all know there are dozens of reasons why you may not be able to touch your toes, and realistically, hamstring flexibility is not often the reason!  You can’t recommend hamstring stretching unless you have identified that this is the specific reason why your client can not touch their toes.

Don’t be guilty of being stuck in your box of techniques.  Just because it works on one person, doesn’t mean it will work on the next person.  Everyone is unique and has unique needs.

Don’t get stuck in your ways.  As Josh said, chiropractors are great at mobilizing already mobile people and physical therapists are great at stabilizing already stable patients.  I thought that was hilariously accurate!  It really comes back down to your assessment.  I do use the SFMA but also many other assessments techniques (you can see some of them in my Functional Stability Training system).  They help guide me towards what my client needs, I’m not satisfied with being lucky, neither should you.