Friday, August 11, 2017

The Importance of Having a Health Care Team

Many of the athletes I coach are fairly new to running and triathlon so when things start to hurt and muscles start to get tight, they often ask me what I recommend.  Depending on what the issue is, my answer varies.  Over the years, I have assembled a team of people that I trust with my athletic health.   There are so many different types of therapies out there it's hard to know where to start so I'm going to break it down for you.

I'm going to classify things in terms of injury prevention and injury rehabilitation, mostly according to how I've ended up at each practitioner.  There is definitely overlap with all of these therapists as many of them can help in the healing of an injury as well as the prevention of an injury.


My go to for any sort of muscle (soft tissue) related aches, pains and tightness would be my RMT (Registered Massage Therapist).   If you're going to have ONE person in your health care arsenal, I'd recommend it be an RMT.

For other muscle and joint related issues, I go to a chiropractor.  Chiros get a bad rap a lot of the time which is unfortunate.  My chiropractor also does A.R.T (active release technique) and acupuncture so that is what I go and see him for 95% of the time.  On occasion I have some low back / S.I. joint issues so he will do the odd adjustment or joint mobilization work.

Another excellent practitioner to have on your health care team is an osteopath.  I like to think of osteopathy as a combination of massage and chiropractic treatment.  Osteopathy, according to Wikipedia is a "therapy that emphasizes massage and other physical manipulation of muscle and tissue and bones."  I've used osteopathy for low back and SI joint pain with a great deal of success.


Physiotherapists are the folks that 99.9% of injured athletes end up seeing.  A physiotherapist will help rehab your injury by having you work at building strength back up progressively and safely,  They will also help correct the imbalances or weaknesses that caused the injury in the first place.  That's why they have you do all those exercises.  That's why those exercises should ALWAYS be a part of your fitness / strength routine.  Your body will eventually revert back to the path of least resistance once you stop.

A good sports medicine doctor is also a very important person to have on your health care team.  If they're really good, they can get you slightly faster access to imaging.  Sometimes they offer alternative treatments like PRP injections, cortisone injections etc.   Unfortunately you usually have to wait anywhere from a couple of weeks to sometimes a couple of months to get an appointment, depending on the doctor.  A sports medicine doctor will also be able to refer you to a surgeon or other specialist if required.

An RMT for massage, a chiropractor for A.R.T and acupuncture and a physiotherapist for when everything goes to hell in a hand basket.

But where do you find these people?

Word of mouth.  Ask your coach, or other athletes who they would recommend.  I'm in the west end of the city so if I know my athlete is west end or willing to travel a bit, I'll always recommend someone on my healthcare team.

If you don't know any other athletes, do a google search and read reviews.  I feel it's important that you see someone at a sports medicine clinic as they are usually much more attuned to the needs of an athlete.  In an ideal world, your practitioner is an athlete as well.

I've seen a lot of therapists over the years.  Sometimes it can take a while to build a network of people that you trust with your health.  Right now I think I have a pretty solid team of people that help keep me healthy.   These are the folks that help keep me healthy.

David Lamy, RMT at Synergy Sports Medicine
Peter Lejkowski, Chiropractor / ART / Acupuncture at Pivot Sports Medicine
Lauren Roberts at The Running Physio

Other folks that I'd also recommend:

Kris Sheppard, Chiropractor at The Runners Academy 
Mark Casmiri, RMT at Pivot Sports Medicine
Miranda Tomenson, RMT at Swansea Massage Clinic
Xsenia D'Abramo, Physiotherapist & NKT practitioner at Annex RMT

Having a group of therapists that know you, your sport and your body is so important to staying healthy and to addressing and treating injuries when they come up.

Do you have a group of people that you trust?  

~ Coach PK

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