There’s a saying in bull riding: “It’s not if you’re going to get hurt but when.” The same thing can probably be said about combat sports. It seems the injury bug rears its ugly head quite frequently. So if you’re involved in mma or any other sport where your opponent is trying to punch, kick, choke or slam you, an injury may be right around the corner. If you are a professional fighter, remember that your livelihood depends on your ability to function at a very high level and correct rehab of an injury is crucial. All facilities and therapists are not the same. No matter what discipline you choose for your injury, the suggestions below will apply to PT, chiropractic, acupuncture or any others.
So you are injured and are in need of rehab, what next?
Do your research and ask questions. Even if your doctor suggests a specific clinic or a trusted friend tells you about a therapist he used, make sure you do some looking into the therapist’s education and experience. Does he/she have a specialty? If possible, call them and have a conversation about your injury, what to expect, how it is going to be addressed. How is his/her treatment approach different from the other 25 therapists within a 10 mile radius? Has he/she worked with combat athletes?
Make a visit to the clinic. Is it like an ant pile with people running all over and a general state of chaos or does it seem like a well oiled machine that is going along smoothly? Individual attention gets better results whether you are in the classroom, a jiu-jitsu lesson or rehab. Will you get individual attention at this facility or are you just another dollar sign in the therapists eyes? If it is a larger facility, pay attention to how the current patients are being treated. If you go into a clinic and the therapist is saying to patients “Ok, go ahead and start on your exercises and I’ll be with you in a few minutes,” that to me is a big red flag. If your exercises are so technical that they have to be done in therapy then they had better be supervised by the therapist. If they aren’t that technical then you can do them at home. Whether or not you choose to do them at home is up to you, but you don’t need to pay somebody so you can do exercises on your own.
Who owns the clinic? Most doctors are very ethical. However there are some who own physical therapy clinics and try to steer patients there in order to make more money, not necessarily because they provide the best rehab. Now if the clinic does a good job, obviously it isn’t a problem. But remember that you are in charge of where you go to therapy even if your doctor suggests a particular clinic.
Make sure your Bulls**t detector is on. If they are trying to sell you a bill of goods that seems to be unrealistic or B.S., go somewhere else. You may have to shop around to get to an office that is right for you. I recently had a patient who brought in an ad for a particular clinic in my area advertising anti-gravity technology that was a breakthrough in treating back pain. It was back traction. It was dressed up and looked fancy but it was still traction. It also cost between $3500-$5000 for the treatment package and you had to pay for your sessions in advance. That would have had my B.S. detector pegged.
I also worked with a fighter who initially went to a different clinic before starting rehab with me. His treatments were being paid for by the event promoter so the other clinic was charging about 5 times the normal rate per session. He saw a copy of his bill and guess what… the B.S. detector redlined. Not only that, his treatment sessions consisted of borderline effective methods. If you get a bad vibe off of a place, go somewhere else.
Expect results. Whether your injury required surgery or not, you should start to see positive results within 3-4 sessions. Not necessarily cured, especially after surgery, but you should be able to say to yourself, “Yeah, this is really helping.” If you aren’t getting results don’t be afraid to talk to your therapist about what is happening or go to a different therapy clinic.
In my opinion the biggest things to remember are:
Do your research and ask questions; make sure your B.S. detector is on; and don’t be afraid to go to a different facility.
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