March 2017 marks my 10th year as a physio. The road has been bumpy with steep learning curves on the way but at the end of it, I find myself working harder than ever but also enjoying being a physio more than ever.
Like most jobs, a foundation is created ay university but you really learn by doing. To celebrate my 10 years of practice, here are the 10 most valuable things I have learnt while being a physio.
1. Never treat someone with acute low back pain on his or her stomach: You only need to do it once, to learn to never to do it again.
2. Sidelying with a pillow between the knees is an excellent position to treat someone with acute low back pain. Note point 1!
3. Low back pain is complex: just when you think you get the hang of it, you get someone that reminds you that you don’t.
4. Pain is more than just a reflection of physical injury: stress, fear, previous experiences, beliefs and other emotions have a significant impact on pain intensity.
5. Pain is complex: I am still learning
6. Exercise works: manual therapy is great for short term pain relief but for long term improvements corrective exercises are a must
7. No one actually does their exercises: to increase compliance exercise programmes must be flexible and made to suit someone's lifestyle.
8. Exercises do not need to 3 times a day, everyday to get results: this is lucky if you consider point 5. From experience, if you get to your exercises 4 times a week it will be enough to get physiological changes in the muscle that will improve strength and movement patterns in 4-6 weeks.
9. Practice what you preach: Physios are always pushing for lifestyle changes such as moving more and sitting less. Leading by example has helped me remain empathetic with my clients. I appreciate how difficult it is to change and I hope this allows me to better support people through it.
10. Listen: Last but certainly not least. It took me a while to stop selectively listening and to actually hear what clients were saying. Learning to listen and accepting that “physios don’t always know best” really has made my treatment plans more specific to people’s needs and more successful.
10 years has taught me a lot about how to be a better physio, but also how to better understand people. It will be interesting to see what I learn in the next 10 years.
Married couples celebrate their 10th anniversary with tin, so I guess, to commemorate mine, I will be stocking up on baked beans at the supermarket this week.