How do you measure your health and fitness? Many people who walk into our clinic have waited until they’re in considerable pain before addressing niggling movement issues. By that stage, their focus is removing that pain. But we want to look at the bigger picture.
Every treatment plan I put together includes theories of performance therapy to create a healthier lifestyle for every client. I believe we should all move beyond the cycle of injury, pain, and recovery so we can actively enjoy life and movement.
What is performance therapy?
Performance therapy is often just the realm of professional athletes. Gareth Degg, from West London Track and Field, explains performance therapy as moving beyond injury and pain as measurements of success. Degg says this requires therapists to understand the movement needed for a specific sport or event. They might then intervene to improve a movement or action which ultimately helps overall performance.
But at Excel Therapy, we don’t just work with athletes. Performance therapy, or the idea that targeting specific movements can improve overall mobility, can be applied to all our clients.
Every person moves uniquely. How you use your body daily can affect how likely you are to be injured. For example, studies have shown similarities in the gait of injured runners and a group of students reporting back pain sat with similar postures.
That’s why understanding your regular movement routine and lifestyle is so important to us as clinicians. Just like we need to understand the movements required for athletic performance in any given sport, we need to know what daily activities could contribute to any pain. Then we work together on addressing any issues within those movements.
For example, I might ask you to show me how you sit at a desk if you’re experiencing pain while in that position. Or you might have to demonstrate how you serve a tennis ball if that’s the movement you want to improve.
Don’t let old injuries define your health
When we experience an injury, like a bulging disk or a muscle strain, we can let this define our movement long after recovery.
A 2015 study examined the degenerative changes shown in spine imaging for people who reported living pain-free. The study found disk degeneration, bulging disks, disk protrusions, and annular fissures in “high proportions” of pain-free people. So, it’s easy to let ourselves be defined and limited by previous injuries even though the evidence shows otherwise.
To overcome this, I suggest starting with small goals and progressing from there. Yes, you might start at a disadvantage thanks to an injury, but there’s no reason you can’t improve with the right interventions. (That’s what we’re here for).
It doesn’t matter if your goal is to pick your kids up without pain, live better with arthritis, or lower your handicap on the golf course. If we understand what movements are causing your pain, we can treat you in a way that allows you to reach a movement goal.
If you’re in pain but don’t have a specific movement goal, we can still help. Whenever I meet with a new patient, I spend time talking about their lifestyle and hobbies, so I can help them define a goal. Then we break that down into smaller, more achievable short-term goals which may be as simple as waking up without pain.
Some goals may include:
Working without pain
Walking further or faster, moving easier
Exercising with ease
More repetitions or higher weights at the gym
During the treatment, I help restore optimum joint and tissue function using techniques like massage, stretching, mobilising, manipulation, or acupuncture. Then we look at ways you can build on this to live a healthier life.
It’s time to move better and live life to the fullest
We all know how important physical activity is for a healthy life. In the clinic, we see how the fear of re-injury can limit people from exercise and movement. Performance therapy could help guide your goals and give you a pathway to start getting the best from your body.
Performance therapy may be most common for elite athletes, but there’s no reason it can’t be applied to everyday situations. The same principles apply regardless of whether you want to perform better in your sport or play with your kids without pain.