Over my past 20+ years in physiotherapy, I’ve been incredibly lucky to learn from some amazing therapists and mentors, and today I want to both pay tribute to them and explain some of the important things I’ve learned from them.
Firstly, during my undergraduate years at the University of East Anglia, I have great memories of learning from Richard Stephenson, Lucy O’Driscoll and the late Robin Shutt and Philip Evans. Richard is an inspirational academic and teacher who made me want to learn more and expand my horizons; my personal tutor Lucy taught me manual therapy techniques which I still use today. Former military remedial gymnast Robin taught me to observe human movement; and Philip made our dissection and anatomy classes memorable.
As I progressed through my military physiotherapy career, Bob Jones and the late Ron Bain mentored me at Headley Court within the physiotherapy department and from them I observed the skills of good leadership. Dave Minden and Graham Hopkins, the “big bosses” of the physiotherapy cadre and of Defence Rehabilitation, demonstrated bigger picture thinking.
Clinically, however, I have to pay tribute to pioneering physiotherapist Sarah Key, who treats The Queen, and who taught me the principles of pressure change for spinal health, including her five stages of back pain theory, how to treat patients using my feet, and how to use modified yoga exercises including the Back Block routine to restore normal loading to spinal discs. Sarah was the first clinician to really start me “thinking out of the box” and this led me to start thinking about what sort of a therapist I wanted to be.
Moving on from Sarah, I later discovered the amazing Diane Lee, whose development of the regional interdependence theories of the early 2000s has led to the creation of the Integrated Systems Model (ISM). This has helped me to move my thinking from the traditional biomedical model of treating the bit that hurts, to the more holistic model of working out the root cause of the problem, and whether the bit that hurts is actually compensating for an issue elsewhere in the body. I now believe that compensation is a big reason that lots of injuries keep recurring (because treating the cause works better than treating the symptoms, but the two aren’t necessarily in the same part of the body.) For example, a pain in your ankle could be coming from an issue in your neck; or a sore knee could be the result of a stiff and twisted ribcage – so I believe it’s important to look at the whole body, every time.
Diane’s training (and although I’ve done all her courses at least once, she’s always updating them) opened my eyes to the fact that the body doesn’t consist purely of the musculoskeletal system – the nervous system and the organs (visceral system) can also contribute to the body going wrong and hurting.
So I then went on and trained in CranioSacral Therapy (CST) with the Upledger School, where I met incredible anatomy tutor Caroline Barrow and clinician Nikki Kenward; and in Visceral Manipulation with osteopathic legend Jean-Pierre Barral. While I’m not (yet) as expert in working with the craniosacral system or visceral system as I am in the musculoskeletal system, nonetheless adding these tools to my “clinical toolbox” has been invaluable in giving me more “ways in” to my patients’ bodies.
While running my multidisciplinary clinic, Victory Health & Performance, I also worked with and learned from clinicians from other disciplines such as psychologist Dr Victor Thompson, clinical nutritionists Matt Lovell and Rick Miller, sleep specialist Dr Aditi Desai and balance therapist Elizabeth Banks.
Finally, I’m constantly learning from the doctors I collaborate with (going into clinic and into the operating theatre to learn everything I can about orthopaedic surgery, rheumatology, neurosurgery and pain medicine), from the personal trainers and yoga and Pilates instructors I work with – and from my patients and their bodies, each of which is different, and each of whom responds differently to manual therapy and exercises.
It’s through regularly taking time out of my practice to learn from these superb educators, researchers and clinicians; and through regularly taking time to reflect on how my patients have responded to my treatment techniques, that I’ve developed my own way of working, which has resulted in me being able to create my Health & Performance Pyramid, which incorporates aspects of what I’ve learned from everyone I’ve worked and trained with.
As a result, when you come to see me in clinic, these are the different lenses through which I’ll be assessing and treating your injury, and that’s why I can take a really holistic look at your body and solve the problems that most physios (who only look at the bit that hurts) can’t.
So if you’d like to come and see me, please contact my team on 0207 175 0150 today.