Not only is May a time that we celebrate our mothers, but it also happens to be a time to celebrate our Physiotherapists in the crowd! I became a physiotherapist largely due to my Mom. I remember vividly, at nine years old, standing against the stove door trying to make the small of my back touch to the glass – all so that I could practice good posture. What I didn’t know at the time, was that my tight muscle tendons and lack of body awareness/proprioception were contributing to my increased lumbar lordosis, but I digress. The common factor is, we often don’t know what the ‘proper posture’ is or how it can help our aches and pains. Why does posture even matter?!
For a moment, imagine your car keeps getting continual wear on the outside edges of the same front left tire every month. You’ve tried avoiding the potholes, used the newest ‘tire enhancing’ product in stores, and still you get continual wear in the same spot. I’m not a mechanic, but my first inclination would be to check the wheel alignment. Just like the tires on your car, our joints and connective tissues work smoothly and with the least ‘wear and tear’ when they are lined up properly. Now, my chiropractic friends will start raising their hands saying, “That’s where we come in!”, and they’re partly right, but what role do physiotherapists play?
There are a lot of misconceptions I frequently hear trying to answer the question, “What do physio’s do?” Some use choice words to describe how we ‘encourage’ individuals to get out of bed after having surgery, or imagine that we simply hand out stretchy bands and balls and require that every one perform hundreds of repetitions of mind-numbing exercises as a means to cure what ails them. As with any rumour, there are some truth to these myths but it mostly boils down to the fact that physiotherapists encourage your own body to be the tool for healing.
One of my favourite mentors once said, “We do not heal people. We simply give them the tools to heal themselves.” Now, by “tools” I mean to say that a lot of techniques exist that can be applied to the various body structures to help make the natural healing process ideal. Just like taking your car for an oil change, a car wash, and a wheel alignment, we can use manual therapy, modalities, stretching, and much more.
Some of my favourite tools to use are education and strengthening. Just like my Mom taught me right from wrong and how to fold fitted sheets, physiotherapists can provide knowledge and understanding about how your body is supposed to function. This in turn can give a lot of empowerment on how to control these flesh boxes we walk around in. Strengthening, on the other hand, is like water and sunlight to a plant. The more you give, the more you grow, just so long as you don’t overdo it.
Now that I have provided you with more than enough metaphors, I hope you’ve had a little chuckle and perhaps sparked your interest even slightly into the realm of physiotherapy. While you’re out this weekend enjoying time with loved ones and honouring any Moms in your life, I would encourage you be mindful of your own body and how it moves. If it feels like there’s some wear or tear happening, or you’re not sure you have ‘ideal posture’, try asking a physiotherapist! They may just have the right ‘tool’ for the job.