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Blog #68 Programming in Physio – What do graduates need to work on?

Physios in general are not great programmers in the gym space, especially if that is not where they have spent a lot of time themselves. It is a skill just like any other that we need to mould and train over time and the sooner we can do it the better we will be as a profession to take our clients from the start of their acute phase rehab journey (this is where we are really good) all the way to the end of the road to release our clients back into the wild confidently ( agility, speed, conditioning).

There are many physios in the rehab space that fall into several categories when fulfilling exercise requirements in a gym with their clients:

1. The Wait for Response Physio

This physio has the belief system that the client needs to go off and do their exercises for a period until they build strength gains and then they can progress them after such time. The problem that occurs is that our clients leave us in the clinic and are unsure if they are doing the exercises correctly. With this is a fear of the exercises making them worse and they stop doing the exercises altogether. They then feel embarrassed to present back to the treating physio as they did not complete their homework. Often these clients are left way too long without support and guidance and doing the same exercises for extended periods of time with little to no gains and then feel disillusioned with physio as a treatment option. Ever seen the guy doing external rotation with the same coloured TheraBand for 12 weeks?? I bet you have.

2. The Overkill Physio

This physio gives way too many exercises for a client to complete, and the client becomes confused and overwhelmed and gives up on the process as it is all too hard. This physio then gets frustrated with the client that they did not want to help themselves and complete the given exercises. Rehab exercises can be a very foreign concept to many of our clients and we need to treat our clients in rehab based on their experience in a rehab or gym setting. Everything cannot be given all at once. Rehab needs to be agile and change depending on how the client presents at each session and how they are coping.

3. The Self Manager

This physio wants independence for all mankind on Day 1. They often draw up a 6-week program on paper and hand it to the client to complete on their own. Once again, the client is overwhelmed and not supported in the process and often fails the task. No one wants to or should have to rehab on their own. Rehab is a process that needs support, guidance and the professional at the helm guiding the way through rough seas to calmer waters. As a physio, if you have not had a great deal of exposure to a gym environment and you are working in a private practice setting with a rehab gym at your disposal, you should prioritise upskilling in a strength and conditioning course. Knowing how to spot a client, when necessary, allows you to progress to high level rehab without having to let your client go to a local PT to finalise the results. There is no greater satisfaction then seeing a client to the end stages of rehab and every physio has the opportunity, we just must learn the new skill that is not taught at a university level.

If you want to know more in this space, we have a 2-hour extensive training video on the Graduate Learning Portal with Strength & Conditioning Coach Matt Johnson on Prioritisation in Programming. Check it out.


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