The Running Physio

TRP's Running Blog

Injury management, nutrition, training and running tips.

Elevator Overhearings + 3 Things You Should Know About Feeling Good


As I left an appointment last Tuesday, I shuffled into a semi-busy elevator. Not super crammed, just a few people who knew each other well enough to engage in light elevator banter. One of them was complaining about her hip and back, and how she had tried everything from Advil to Epsom salts and nothing was “fixing it”. I closed my eyes and willed myself not to say anything. Do chefs go home and create amazing meals for their families, or do they order pizza? You have no idea how agonizing being a fly on the wall to this kind of conversation can be when you work with people who are in pain all day, and see them get better by following a plan. After a beat, her friend interjected and said, “Have you tried physio?” Inside, I lit up. Yes! Yes. I began to fumble in my pockets searching for a stray business card that wasn’t dog-eared. Instead, her friend replies, “Physio? What’s that?”

I freeze. What? No way. How in this day and age does this woman not know what physio is? The doors opened and they scuttled out, leaving me with my hands jammed into my pockets and feeling somewhat irritated.

Ok. Let’s unpack this.

POINT #1) I hate to say this kids, but there is very rarely an “instant fix”. You are a body. When you get a zit, no matter how expensive the cream or facial, it’s gonna take a few days to go away. When you want to gain or lose weight, it doesn’t happen overnight. Yes, yes, the health magazines will promise you “ABS NOW”, but (sorry for more bad news) we know this just.isn’t.true. Chances are you didn’t suddenly wake up with pain completely out of nowhere. It likely snuck around, maybe it gave you some hints for awhile, maybe you thought it would pass. Maybe you thought you slept funny, or maybe that massage you got helped it for a day. Perhaps you recently changed something in your lifestyle, or maybe you spend a lot of time doing a repetitive task. As such, it’s going to take a little bit of time for this pain to go away. If a magic wand existed, we would have figured it out by now. And we certainly wouldn’t have to have six years (plus) of training if this were the case. Which brings me to…

POINT #2) “What’s a physio?” Okay, fair question. My sister works “at the bank” and to me, when I hear this, my brain conjures an image of a bunch of nicely dressed office folks jovially chatting at a water cooler while computers hum away behind them solving complicated bank-y problems. I’m willing to bet this is not what she does all day, and also that my brain’s oversimplification is borderline insulting to her MBA. So, okay, it probably is fair that this woman didn’t know what physio was, or at least that perhaps our profession warrants some clearer description.

Physiotherapists (or Physical Therapists) have an undergraduate degree as well as a Master’s of Physical Therapy. We have a small scope of practice (essentially muscles, bones, and nerves of bodies) but our scope runs deeeeeep. I bet you didn’t know that joints have micro-glides that you can’t feel on your own. We look at how you move on a macro level, and then how you move at a micro level. Then, we take all of this information, and layer your personal story on top. A fencer is going to have a different story than a runner. We can integrate all of this information into a treatment plan to address whatever your problem is in relation to your goals. An assessment for me takes a full 60 minutes - and that’s us moving along at a pretty good clip. FYI - an assessment should be AT LEAST 45 minutes - if it’s not, pack your bags and find someone else who’s more willing to use their brain. People often say to me “you must be physically so tired at the end of the day.” Wrong - I love moving all day, but if I’ve done my job well, it’s my brain that’s fried from doing all of the thinking and reasoning and problem-solving, not my body. Make your physio work for you (because we ain’t cheap).

POINT #3: What’s the difference between physio and [yoga/pilates/trainers/etc…]? Again. Fair question. We are more expensive. We are often harder to book. Why is this justified? Well - full disclosure - sometimes it’s not. If you’re going to a clinic where you receive ultrasound and a hot pack, I 100% agree that you are better off seeing a personal trainer, or spending an hour at a pilates class, or heck, even going outside for some fresh air and a walk. Now that being said, I can fully assure you that if you have a specific goal, or a specific pain or problem, you are hands-down best to see a GOOD physio (refer to Point #2). Your time is limited. Your energy is limited. We can do the thinking for you and say “Ok. If you’ve got TEN minutes in your day, I want you to do the following exercises, and here’s why”. Group classes can be great, but how do you know what you should or shouldn’t be doing? Trainers have a great eye for form, but what about positions that should be modified? What positions SHOULD even be modified? HOW are you doing a particular movement? With what strategies? Google can only get you so far, but that’s a rant for a whole other blog.

If you’ve stuck with me so far - awesome. Next time you’re in The Running Physio, grab a stack of cards, and if you overhear strangers in the elevator talking about pain, just slip them our card with a well-informed smile ;) and know that we’re thankful for the referral.