Not sure if she was trying to catch me out, but got this little question quizzed at me this week by a patient:
“Paul, I’ve seen a few physios in my time, but something is strangely different about your treatment room. There are none of them fancy “high-tech” machines that most physios like to use on you when you go to see them. How come?…”
– Barbara, 58. Durham.
What could I say? How about: “Maybe I’m just a simple kind of guy?!”
Or to be more precise, maybe I’m just the kind of physio who doesn’t get his head turned by “shiny” new technology that hasn’t got a track record of results? I prefer to stay more focused and work out a recovery “strategy” for my patients that is put into play by hard physical labour (by my hands) than to have my head turned by the next exercise craze that comes alone or new machines that promise lots, but often turn out to be a big let down.
I made a point a few years ago in my career that no money would ever change hands for healthcare that someone else could just go out and buy. Sure, some people come looking for machines that I haven’t got, but I made a decision to be the kind of healthcare professional who was far better off being everything to the right someone, rather than attempting to offer something for everyone.
And the latter, in my humble opinion, is something that is happening a lot in health care and contributing to the mass ineffectiveness of much of it.
With “low tech”, easy to find and easy to use in mind, and to prove to you how simple it is to improve health, here are 6 “non-tech” tools I’ve recommended in the last week, that my patients begin to use:
1.) Beach ball – okay it’s really called an exercise ball and you see loads of them in the gyms these days. Find a medium size exercise ball and begin to work on the core muscles of your back. Do this, and you will see a difference with less backache and stiffness.
2.) Elastic band – A.K.A a resistance band. Take a look on Amazon.com and you’ll notice these multi-colored exercise-training bands are often in the top 10 best sellers list, anywhere in the world. Great for improving muscle tone and control. Having the latter being the easiest way to avoid muscle pain or tension.
3.) Legal pad and pencil – what doesn’t get written down, can’t be measured. And if it isn’t being measured, it isn’t worth doing. You must track progress or set health goals by marking them down. Hint: You also need to write down how you plan to achieve them.
4.) Skipping rope – great for restoring balance after something like a knee or ankle sprain. You wouldn’t want to fall over again would you?
5.) Pillow – “stuff” it up behind the small of your back when you sit for long periods. Will improve your posture no end and with it reduce stress and tension on your back muscles.
6.) Bottom step of a set of stairs – great for building up knee strength and control. If you’re suffering with something like arthritis of your knees, doing simple, low level exercises on the bottom of your stairs will save you the cost of having to go to any gym.
Don’t get me wrong. Progress is a must, particularly in healthcare, I just think sometimes that it’s to easy to look over the fundamentals of achieving great health in search of something that was not that much better than what was already there. In the words of a wise old teacher of mine, “keep it simple stupid”.
Published in the Hartlepool Mail. Wed 12th March 2014. (c) Paul Gough Physio.