Athletes Will Test Your Treatment Skills So Be Ready

Athletes Will Test Your Treatment Skills So Be Ready

You always have to step your game up in health care because you are always being put to the test, even if you don’t know it. When you have a customer-focused mind it means you are thinking through what is going through their head. The truth is that if you have a new client you have never worked with before, the second you provide treatment, they are calculating how much trust they should allow to you. I am going to break down the thoughts of an athlete in this situation.

Working With The Best

Growing up in Toronto,  I used to get treated by one of the best set of hands I have ever been touched by. I was an athlete through elementary school, middle school, high school, college, and made the 2012 Olympic team. I have been treated by a lot of people before and I was always interested in it so I know the difference between good hands and bad hands.

When I use to see this one gentleman by the name of Jeremy, he did things I have never really seen anyone else do up to this day. He could immediately change in your body and do a test to prove it. But one of the best things he actually did for me was to educate me.

He would show me new things and explain them in detail but simply. I am a naturally curious person so you can’t just tell me to do something and not say why. I always wanted to know the why and every time he could explain it so that I understood when I left his office.

Then I would drive north of Toronto to a city close to Barrie Named Orillia to see a chiropractor named Dr.Bell. I started seeing this guy in 1998 and he always worked with Olympic level sprinters. He was the first person to introduce me to the idea of prehab and taking care of yourself daily. He would always give me sheets and sheets of homework which I still have today because they were that useful. Mind you, I hated actually doing the stuff and he treatment was painful but it worked nonetheless.

I noticed this common trend though between the great therapists, the good therapists, and the bad ones. The better they were able to educate you on your own body and why you should be doing things.

Fast Forward

I sign my scholarship and I enter into the NCAA in a NIGHTMARE situation of being hurt. I had an L5 fracture at the very end of high school meaning that I would need to depend on the school to help me.

The problem with the NCAA is that all the faculties are amazing so you see all these things and think man if the facilities are this good just imagine how good all of the people are. This was not my reality though. The track team only had a GA so I quickly had to put her to the test with the first treatment.

I go into the training room to get treatment and I told her about my back and what I had been through. She tells me to lay on my stomach, so I do and she touches my QL for about 10 seconds and then tells me to get up and get ice. I’m so confused but I did not make a big deal of it. I asked her what the long term approach was to make this go away and all she said was I just have to manage it day to day.

At this point, I have a lot of alarm bells going off.

  • Ice will not fix an injury in the long run
  • Her answers were very short
  • I felt like I was annoying her already and it was my first day
  • How can you manual poke someone for 10 seconds and know what is going on
  • She never evaluated any of my movement or looked at anything else
  • Did not seem like she cared
  • She was not a teacher


The Dislike Bias

Now here is the thing, was I 100% right about her? Of course not but these are the snap judgments that we all make in life and they change the attitudes that we approach people with. In my eyes, she had failed the test and she had no idea what she was talking about.

There is a cognitive bias was all suffer from called the dislike bias. The bias goes like this when we don’t like someone we block out all information that will change that opinion we have developed of them. We all do this!

It is why when we dislike someone they could do the most altruistic thing ever like adopting kids, and we will find a reason that they did it for evil. Or think about a school that you hate. It does not matter what they do, you hate everything about that school.

As a healthcare provider, you don’t want to get on this side of things. Once you are disliked people will look for a reason to confirm their dislike for you. It is also the reason that you should not immediately dislike an athlete or customer because you will do the exact same thing.

There is hope!

The Liking Bias

There is a bias to counterbalance the dislike bias and this is the like bias. It does come with its own dangers but it blocks out information that will change our mind on liking someone. It’s why we will defend someone we are in a relationship with no matter how clear it is that they are not good.

When you get put to this test early one it is important that you work to be liked. Not in a way that feeds your ego or because you want to please the world. It is more about building that trust. It is hard to trust someone you can’t stand.

Think About How Invasive Healthcare Can Be

Think about a doctor who regularly checks for prostate cancer in males. For him, it is just a routine procedure, but for the Male customer, it is the most invasive thing ever. No one wants someone to poke a finger into their butt to see if they have cancer.

The same thing applies when you are treating an athletic injury. The fact that you are even putting your hands on another human means that trust should not be taken lightly. We have scandals like the USA Gymnastics one that only makes these matters worse.

Here is where the education portion comes into play. You need to convey that you know what you are talking about. I think there is a difference between knowing what you are talking about and sounding smart.

Sounding smart means you are not deliberate in choosing effective words to communicate with and that you are not that smart. The most effective providers take the most complicated things, break them down so that a nine-year-old can understand them.

When you are nine and you have a doctor you just met explain to you why you should walk on a balance beam every day, and why I should do these core exercises given as prehab, trust is built before any contact is made.

It also shows that you are operating at a level where you are not just running through the motions. If you everything you do has no explanation, chances are this is just what you always do and one time 10 years ago it worked so you stuck with it. That may sound crazy but a lot of coaches actually do just that. They had one thing work with a national championship team or athlete back in 1907 and they do it for the next 85 years.

Know the Level of Treatment Someone Has Had

I went to college having had numerous people spend more than an hour working on me. Is this practical college? Of course not because there are too many athletes to providers at pretty much every school. Regardless it still plays a role. I understand effective ways to approach injuries.

For example, most of the best people I have ever worked with will either check my feet first or my hips first REGARDLESS of what I say is hurting me. At first, this made no sense to me. I would tell them that my back hurts and they would check my ankles. I would sit there wondering if he is confused as to where the back is.

As I became more educated I started to realize that there is a big difference between where you feel the pain and what is causing the injury. The foot is the first place to hit the ground and the hips are like the center of it all. If those two places are off then nothing is going to go right.

Within 5 minutes of getting treatment from ANYONE I can immediately tell:

  • The quality of their hands
  • Their ability to change tissue quality quickly
  • The amount of learning they have done after school
  • Their ability to educate me

What Does All of This Mean?

If you read through all of this and don’t really care about the information it’s because you don’t care about the customer. You are not customer-focused at all. You are you focused and the customer just happens to be in the way.

If you are customer-focused it means you will take this to heart and dig into things more. You will start to ask your clients more questions and begin understanding what they really want and need. The customer is never happy so this gives you a fresh challenge every day.



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