In today’s episode of the PT on ICE Daily Show, Fitness Athlete lead faculty Joe Hanisko discusses a recent encounter with low back pain in the gym, offering lessons learned on empathy, the benefits of early intervention, and finishing the drill by returning to regular fitness activities.
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Awesome. Good morning team. This is your PT on Ice daily show podcast. It is Friday, January 12th. So it is a fitness athlete Friday. My name is Joe Hanisko. I am one of the lead faculty of the clinical management and fitness athlete division here at Ice. Uh, today’s topic we’re going to get right into it is the benefits of being injured as a physical therapist. And I know upfront saying that a little strange, By no way, shape, or form do I mean that having an injury is a positive experience. We know that injuries can be quite mentally and physically disturbing, but I’ve recently had an injury and it brought so much back in terms of the value of the experience for me and how I can better shape my practice and reinforce some of my own beliefs about what we do as physical therapists and how we can really bring a good one-two punch to kind of help people who are dealing with injuries as well. So I want to get into the story quickly just to lay the ground. This is like a month ago now, five, six weeks ago. Doing a workout, it was progressively heavy power cleans and intermittently decreasing rep schemes of wall walks. So as you had high volume cleans with a lighter weight, you had high volume Wall walks and you progress down and reps up and weight and down in the wall walks So a lot of just back and forth and I got lazy somewhere in the middle decently heavy bar about 225 Not my max range but an upper level range and I was just trying to get through these reps and I caught it Essentially almost like in a muscle clean position where I didn’t do a good job Redipping under the bar and absorbing load and I sort of just got jammed up like it felt like I kind of like Compressed my spine and in the moment as it happened. I was more or less like that didn’t feel so hot I dropped the bar. I was doing singles. Anyways picked it up felt. Okay, I Third rep into that, felt a little tight. Only had to do four, I think. On that fourth rep, I was like, oh, something’s happening here. My gamer in me, I just kept going, hit the wall walks, but by the time I got back to the barbell, now at 245, man, I was pretty seized up. So, this is sort of like live and learn. I had an opportunity there to maybe back down, but it was just me and my buddy Dakota sending this workout. Couldn’t leave him hanging. I continued to go through, and we’ll fast forward to the end of the workout, in which I felt like I had a steel rod in my back. Preface this with, I’ve never experienced a back injury personally myself. Somehow I’ve been lucky enough to train for 15 years and not have any major back injuries to really talk about. But this was rough. Bending over, taking the plates off. It was one of those within a matter of a minute or two I was in a pretty rough spot and I was like, where is this going? Wasn’t too confident about it. So that night though I went home and started working on it myself, doing what we should. pick that the move it or use it option here and we went after moving it i was doing some bat banded cat cows some cat camels but the real story starts with what I feel like came in the next day or two afterwards.
MAKING DECISIONS EARLY IN REHAB
And this is where I feel like us as physical therapists, what we know from our injury rehab experience, and when it happens to us, we’re able to make great decisions early on. This is what really started to highlight to me the benefit of having this injury and reminded me all the things that I need to do when I have athletes and clients who come to me with these acute injuries or injuries of any kind. So what I wanted to do basically is lay out the top three we’ll call them experiences or lessons learned from this.
LESSON #1 – EMPATHY
The first one being empathy. Had I not known what I know about the human body, about physical therapy, about rehab, about movement and how it is truly medicine, had I not known that this injury would have been debilitating. Not only physically, I was, you know, having a hard time getting around, doing basic things, putting the shoes on, getting dressed. Not only physically was it debilitating, but mentally I would have felt wrecked. I love fitness. Every day I get to show up in the gym and spend time there just like a lot of our clients and members at the gym. and clients here in the clinic, I love it. And I did not feel like I was anywhere close to getting back into the gym. I was wrecked. And having that empathy as a physical therapist now for what clients feel like, especially when they don’t necessarily know that there’s light at the end of the tunnel, and hopefully sooner than later, that was a terrible experience. Again, my ability to change my psyche on that was helpful, knowing that I wasn’t doomed, I was gonna get this taken care of. I wasn’t dealing with, neurologic symptoms or things that were overly concerning. No red flags in my history. But again, taking this from the perspective of people who don’t have that, the ability of the therapist to empathize with people and say, hey, I understand where you’re coming from, man. That back tweak is no joke. It really makes you feel like you’re doomed and that you got no bright future ahead of you. But let me tell you that you do. I’ve had this, I’ve experienced it, I’ve walked it on, right side next to you, knowing what this feels like, and we are gonna get this better, and you’re in the right spot. That empathy and ability to kind of connect on that emotional level with them after experiencing something like this, I think is super powerful. It puts you right in their shoes, and you’ve lived it, you’ve learned it, and you know that it takes a little bit of strategy on our part to kind of convince and educate people that they’re gonna be okay when they’re feeling like they’re hitting the frickin’ rock bottom after an injury like that. So empathy or relatability, you can combine those two. But I felt like that was probably one of the most beneficial lessons learned from this whole process is being able to connect with the patient on that level. So it’s scary, it sucks, but. we have the ability to control some of that with our education and our ability to empathize and to relate with our patients. So lesson number one, empathy.
LESSON #2 – POSITIVE BENEFITS OF EARLY INTERVENTION
Lesson number two, the positive benefits of early intervention. You cannot sell this enough. Uh, my experience was great. I have a team, uh, onward Grand Rapids. My employees were fantastic. I was able to get in 36 hours after my injury because it was on a weekend. Get in, I got some needles, some cupping, a little bit of manipulation. And man, I was within 36 hours. When I walked in the door, I was in rough shape 36 hours after this injury. When I got off that table, I was 75% better in the moment. 75% better. Early intervention for me was nice because physically I was feeling better and your patients will feel better as well, but this is where it starts to go back to a little bit of empathy and the psychological component of it. The fact that I could bend over, touch my toes with minimal discomfort, 25% of what I was dealing with before, was so, so rewarding to me and reminded me that there is no greater tool than early intervention, especially with these acute injuries. So the early intervention process and It kind of rolls back into patient education, especially if you’re incorporating yourself into gyms and fitness. If you get an opportunity, workshops, if you get an opportunity to talk to somebody after an injury, you gotta double down on that because we know that it’s so much easier to rehab an injury early on in the process rather than waiting three weeks, six weeks, whatever it might be. But also, psychologically and physiologically, the changes that you can make with these early intervention tactics can be so powerful. It certainly does take a good chunk of education on our part to let people know that, but I think we sometimes struggle as a profession to commit to what we know works because it seems like an inconvenience or it costs money or whatever it might be, but it’s our jobs as professionals to relay what we do know and to be confident and to trust our own processes. And in my personal experience, that 36 hour intervention, it was more than worth it. I would have paid whatever it took to feel as good as I felt afterwards. Luckily, I got the free 99 coupon, which is nice, but I’m serious. That was huge So I had intervention at 36 hours and then roughly around 72 hours later and by 72 hours I was probably a 90% to 95% meaning that I could feel some stiffness with flexion. I wouldn’t even consider it pain I felt like I could go back and do everything that I wanted to do.
LESSON #3 – FINISH THE DRILL
And I did I got back in the gym and that was really my third lesson then of this after empathy early intervention is make sure we do a good job completing the drill. You know, this is me lacking my ability to walk my own walk and talk my own talk here. I, you know, three days essentially after this back injury was back to training and I chose to avoid intelligently and modify certain things. I wasn’t going to go load up my max PR deadlift and just start cranking away. I think the first real workout that I got back to doing was a combination of dumbbell box step-ups, handstand walking, and goblet squats, like a dumbbell goblet squat. So a lot of legs, movement. I was like, man, and going upside down, a challenging position there where it sometimes can cause back pain with that overextension. I was doing really good. So I went from that to a ski erg and did some ski erg intervals, which is a lot of flexion, and I was doing really good. And I swear to God, 40, 50 minutes into my workout when I went to kind of do a little cool down recovery row, some zone two style stuff, it was within the third pull on that rower that everything literally seized up. I’m going to say at like 75% of the worst that it had been, but I just done all that stuff. Uh, I had been doing some rehab stuff for three to five days before that feeling good and I lacked the ability to commit to completing the drill. as a patient and as a therapist. Like I wasn’t honest with myself and pushing myself to continue to do the stuff that we know works and building out a plan to really bulletproof and rehab something. I kind of took it as a grain of salt, like, oh, I’m doing so good so quickly. I can probably just go back to doing whatever I want to do. But I learned my lesson. I went right back to essentially square one, had to go back, see Hondo, one of our dogs here, the day after. Luckily, again, early intervention, second time around here. and got back on track. But now I’m four weeks after this process, five weeks after this process, I’m committed to really taking a stand on building some back strength back up. And even if it meant that I wasn’t really essentially weak going into it or whatever, I know that I came out weaker from that injury and need to rebuild my foundation. And there’s no point in just sweeping this under the rug. I really need to attack it. And so our jobs here as physical therapists with our clients is to reiterate a either empathetic or relatable experience in which we maybe didn’t do a great job following through like I did and educate again on the importance of, Hey, even when you’re feeling good, especially early on in your recovery process, this is the time to double down. This is when we go after the gas pedal, we floor it and we say, Hey, this window of opportunity that I have right now where I was doing terrible, the window is open, I’m feeling pretty dang good right now, that’s the window that we need to double down, get after this, and really start to build back our capacity into whatever injury, region, interlocation that we’re talking about there. So, a super, super valuable experience in my opinion. I don’t want to understate the fact that obviously injuries are never truly a positive thing, but I tried to spin this as best I could and going after this process and learning about empathy, learning about early intervention and reminding myself about how important it is to complete the drill was so valued to me as a physical therapist because I can now take all these experiences and apply them back into my clinical experience here. Also, the bigger picture here at the end of the day is that it reminded me of why I’m doing what I’m doing from a fitness perspective. Yeah, I like to be competitive. Yeah, I like to throw heavier weights around, but really what we’re looking for here is the long journey, the end goal, the healthy longevity lifespan approach. And I will take that back injury 1000 times. over all the other things that could come with not being willing to put your body on the line a little bit, build some resilience and strength and capacity, and suffer from chronic disease or other debilitating comorbidities that are out there just grabbing people left and right right now across the country. So I’m by no means deterred by this.
We need to remind our patients they should not be deterred by this. We are gonna get them better. You’re going to relate with them. You’re gonna provide intervention early, and you are going to complete the drill, and they’re gonna be in a really good spot there. Hopefully that was helpful. Don’t go get injured, but if you do, spin it, be positive, learn from it and help your clients. Or at least take my experience and help your clients and really do a good job selling our profession and what we are capable of because people deserve to feel good and to get back to their sport. Last little sign off here from the CMFA team. We got a couple of courses coming up. It’s the New Year’s 2024, so live courses are kicking off. Our first couple live courses In order are in January. We got one out in Portland and then we’re gonna follow that up with Richmond, Virginia Charlotte, North Carolina, and then I’ll be out in April in the Seattle area. I think Renton Washington so look at the PT on ice.com website to look for signups for those and And also early February, first week of February, the CMFA online level two is kicking off with Zach and Mitch and myself as well. That’s February 7th, I believe, but definitely that first week of February. So hop on, let’s get those Con Ed credits built up. We’re looking forward to seeing you guys. Have a great start of your year and have a happy Friday.
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