Have you ever wondered why an integrated approach of tailored methods in physiotherapy, sport rehabilitation, sport massage therapy, and strength and conditioning training are important?
To find out the answers, I had a conversation with Kate Lai, a member of the management team and an experienced Food and Science Nutritionist, of a leading sport rehabilitative centre Dynamique.
GP: So Kate, what exactly is physiotherapy?
KL: Aiyoh! There are many different opinions about physiotherapy. People that come to us think that the professional work we do is about Traditional Chinese Medicine, Chinese or Indonesian massage (like in a massage centre). The work we do has also been mistaken as ‘urut’! It is hilarious to hear how people view us due to a lack of awareness. Simply said… physiotherapy is a western-led solution. The work we perform is in the area of manipulation by certified physiotherapists. Let me take it one level down; it is manual therapy, movement and customised exercises, including heat/cold treatments supported by advice and education.
GP: I agree Kate. There is a common misconception. One friend will recommend to another to see a Chiropractor, or an Acupuncturist, or a Podiatrist, or a Sport Massage Therapist instead of a Physiotherapist. It’s a jungle out there! Unless a person knows what one therapy is from the other, they might be seeking an incorrect method.
KL: I will explain in brief the differences. The Chiropractors are in the area of ‘joint cracking’. No, they do not break your bones and leave you crippled. They actually use degrees of force in manual adjustments – more commonly known as high velocity with short lever arm thrust to manipulate joint movement. But in acupuncture, this is a completely different method. Most people associate Acupuncturists as the ‘needle people’ all because they use specialised fine needles where nerves have been impeached. In fact, a well-trained and skilled acupuncturist will also perform manual and heat therapy as well. Some people avoid acupuncture because they think it is some form of ‘invasive treatment’ since the fine needles are used to reawaken the nerve energy. A Podiatrist is essentially a lower limb specialist in the treatment of the ankles, feet, and some part of the leg. A Sport Massage Therapist is a western-led method and these health professionals are usually certified in most western countries. Due to the lack of maturity of this industry in Malaysia, many may lack certification or experience. And there is also the lack of understanding of the human anatomy too.
GP: Wow! What you just shared has been amazing. I lack understanding as well and this only gets me thinking, so what more is in physiotherapy?
KL: Let me help you better understand what we specialise in here. There are 3 foundation areas: physiotherapy, sport rehabilitation (strength conditioning & training), and sport massage. In physiotherapy, a client usually has an injury, ageing, disorder, illness or a certain condition that needs attention. Our team of professionals aim to improve the way a person’s joints and muscles function. Our solutions help to maximise movement, flexibility, co-ordination and strength, and to optimise the body’s normal functioning and physical ability. We use ‘hands-on care’ or manipulation (placing pressure on a precise area to ease the pain or increased pressure or a sudden controlled push of the affected area), exercises, heat and cold treatments, including taping. This is physiotherapy.
GP: That seems to be a lot of work.
KL: Greg, there are actually a few more things we do in physiotherapy, and those are the main areas. In sport rehabilitation, it is somewhat different. The emphasis is to focus in having a person return to a competitive sport, to improve physical performance, or to even get back to a standard level of health and fitness. This is not only for sport professionals but many people that need to have a basic active physical lifestyle. Based on a person’s physical challenges, we design different rehabilitative exercises. Some include injury management, a variety of targeted stretches, strengthening, agility, coordination, and balance exercises. What is interesting is that we get many people that are physically built, some using fitness equipment to build muscles. But our body has big and small muscles. And using weights and gym equipment may not necessarily strengthen the small muscles. Our focus is to work on both big and small muscles. The goal is to allow a person to return to a previous lifestyle, whether in competitive sport or active health and fitness, strengthened and conditioned to stay away from injury.
GP: Kate, this is all so interesting and innovative that a person can be further strengthened from a previous injury or become sort of ‘new’ again!
KL: The advances in sport science and therapy are astounding. There are so many latest techniques we need to learn to help our clients to improve their lives. Finally Greg, our third foundation is in the area of sport massage. And this is the area where some clients think they go away with an Indonesian or Javanese type massage with aromatic, therapeutic oils in a dimly lit room! There have been a few clients that asked for a pretty girl! There is again a lack of understanding of what sport massage is. And you can see our area is not at all designed in that spa-like concept. Sport massage falls into two categories: pre-activity or post-activity massage. The pre-activity massage helps to wake up the muscles before a given activity. The post-activity massage is more common. Usually athletes or people that perform strenuous activity experience newly formed knots, or existing small or large knots in their muscles. This creates stiffness. Our specially trained sport massage therapist has a broad knowledge and is skilled in deep tissue massage to safely manipulate the muscles, without damaging any fragile tissues. If the knots are not released, the pain will continue to exist. Our goal is to help the person to correct soft muscle tissue problems possibly caused by strenuous physical activity or even exertion, a repetitive strain or tightness. We do our best to ensure that through our sport massage, our clients may enhance their performance, and also aid their recovery and more importantly to prevent injury.
GP: I have come to realise how very sophisticated the area of physiotherapy, rehabilitation, and sport massage is. And to think I had physiotherapy, post-surgery of my ACL and meniscus in 2009. Somehow, I felt that my leg was not correctly strengthened and I am still feeling the effects of it. Let’s keep more goodies of what you can share for the next article! Okay with you?
KL: Sure Greg! It is like having a birthday present every two months!
GP: Thank you very much Kate for spending the last hour sharing all these interesting insights!
KL: You are welcome. Thank you to you.
About Dynamique Sports Rehab:
Dynamique is a fully integrated sport rehabilitation centre in Kota Damansara, and is recognised by the Malaysian National Sport Council as a centre of excellence in providing rehabilitation to its clients. Its dedicated team of qualified, committed and experienced professionals take pride in providing customised solutions to its clients helping them to improve their performance and return to a lifestyle of activity and health. You can contact Kate Lim or Karen Yap at 03-7629 4822 or at 03-7629 4821.