Sunday, December 1, 2013

Help! I need a physio!

I am fortunate to be part of the OLYMPIAZENTRUM Campus Sport - Tirol – Innsbruck. We have a working relationship with Sporttherapie Huber. Philipp Gebhart, a great physiotherapist from Huber, looks after the day-to-day things in house, and we can send athletes to the clinic if necessary. We also have group sessions with our coaches and the physios so we understand how we all work, and how we can serve our athletes better.

An athlete I just started working with has a chronic problem that we hope to resolve soon. This athlete went to Philipp last week and I sat in on the session. I tried to learn as much as possible: what is the problem, how he assessed the problem and how he treated the problem.

We discussed how WE will deal with this. The athlete, the physio and the coach were all together in one room, discussing and working on the same problem.

He did some soft tissue work, and also manipulated joints. I asked him what I could do with the athlete, what I couldn’t do. I respected his competence and tried to learn. He respects me and talks to me about my athletes.

We have a relationship. We don’t see each other enough; he has 12 sessions per week at our center. I make a point of visiting him in his office (in our center) just to check in. He drops in on me. We train together once a week so that gives us some time as well. Neither of us wants to talk shop when we are trying to get a little training in for ourselves, but if it is necessary we can do it.

Too often coaches, doctors and physiotherapists (and other health professionals) work in isolation.

I wish I had a dollar for every time a doctor told me to stop training for 2 weeks during my athletic career, or heard this from another athlete. Sometimes rest is the answer, but often it isn’t. But some doctors are only looking at the symptoms, not the cause and definitely not how to get the athlete back competing in a healthy body as soon as possible. 

If you want to create an ideal situation for your athlete(s), you need to have a great support team. And unfortunately injuries occur more often than we would like, so you need great medical and physio support.

Find a physiotherapist or physiotherapy group who understands high performance sport, and is willing to take time and TALK to you about the athletes you work with. They are out there.

The athlete should not have to continually be a go-between with physio and the coach. Too often coaches bad mouth physios, and vice versa. This helps no one, and often confuses the athlete. Who should they confide in? An athlete should be able trust his or her coach, and the other people working with or on him or her. Athletes are reassured and confident when they see that the people they work with communicate and are pulling in the same direction.

Not all physios understand sport. But there are good ones out there who do. Philipp is not the only good one I work with, or have worked with.

Find good people and develop a relationship with them. This takes time. Time you think you don’t have. But believe me, when you need a great physio, and don’t have one, you will have to invest time to find one. 

And heaven help you in your search if you need to get an athlete back in action as soon as possible - because this may be a long process.


  1. Good post Carson and raises the point of overall planning that often falls to a lesser priority once the athlete has been engaged in a program for a period of time. When the athlete is mature they can "direct" their program with more authority but when they are younger this authority learning is part of education of being an athlete. In my previous experience this process sometimes caused the injury to begin with.

    I enjoy your posts, keep them coming.

  2. I like your comment Marty, thanks. Agree with you about the athlete directing their program. We need to make time to educate the athlete so that they become more responsible, and are empowered.Not quite sure what you mean with your final statement. Do you mean that that athlete had too little awareness of potential problems?

  3. This is really a very vital post. I want to give thanks to Carson for this great job. I am highly agree with every points with Carson about physiotherapists and sports particularly Athletes. I am fully agree with Carson that when we need a great physio, and don’t have one, we will have to invest time to find one and its really very essential for us. Thanks

  4. You have provided the experience of both the good and the bad because this also happens in our daily routine life as sometimes a thing is good for us at one point and in the very second moment, that thing is the most annoying one for us. the same is the case here and you are very lucky that you have the best osteopath in your squad who understand the game well.