Adding life to her patients’ years is what physiotherapist Maria Angela Borras strives for. “As you get older, the quality of life should be the same, if not higher,” she says.
More on an athlete’s life:
This is the daily goal for her and her team of therapists at Physio and Stretch by Dr. Huge, a BGC-based center that caters to the active lifestyle. But how do people achieve that exactly?
“Move,” Borras answers simply. “If you want to add life and be able to perform in your later years, do movement.” For whatever reason—family, work, etc—personal wellness tends to fall down in a lot of people’s priority list. Physical activity becomes non-existent in their lives. That’s what Borras and her fellow PTs at this new facility want you to avoid.
She explains that the pain people experience as they grow older is born from a cycle. “If you don’t move, you develop pain. And once you have pain, all the more that you do not move. So our goal here is to help persuade and make sure you move,” Borras elaborates. “People are afraid oftentimes because we have this misconception that as you get older, you can’t do certain things anymore. That’s where our intervention comes in.”
Physio and Stretch is located inside Pretty Huge Obstacles (PHO), one of the biggest Obstacle Course Race (OCR) training grounds in the country today. The sport is physically demanding and, naturally, the next concern was about keeping their gym members safe. That’s when Borras was approached with the idea of having physiotherapists and sports masseuse within the walls of the gym.
With OCR participants growing in number, the head therapist admits that one of their primary goals here is to make sure that everyone is fit and healthy enough. All members at PHO get a free assessment from Physio and Stretch upon enrolling.
“As with all physiotherapists, our initial goal is prevention. We check PHO members for the possible limitations they may have in doing OCR,” the University of the Philippines graduate shares. “We have athletes here who really compete at the elite level and we also have those who want to do this as their recreational activity. They seek our help on how they could perform better, gain strength, or prevent pain.”
It’s crucial for both the coaches and physiotherapists to have a background on their clients, just in case something happens. But outsiders are more than welcome to have themselves checked. They just need to bring a doctor’s referral.
A regular session usually takes an hour and begins with a quick look at the patient’s medical history. Then they undergo several tests like joint mobility, range of motion, and orthopedic tests or special tests, where they find out if a patient is predisposed to ankle or knee sprains, etc. They do this so that they can compare the left side with the right side of the body. Then they do a functional test, where they check for balance proprioception.
Getting back on track
One or two sessions won’t cut it, and the therapists there will tell you as much. Since their target for clients is to return to sport and action level, they offer the sessions in packages, one of which is six visits and must be used within 60 days. “We want you to make it a habit,” Borras says. “Even before you get injured or experience discomfort, we want to do something about the injury already.”
That’s also why they offer pre-race intervention programs and recovery interventions after. Their sessions can be purely physiotherapy, stretching, or a combination of both. Having in-house physiotherapists and sports masseuse makes this easy.
Unlike other physical rehabilitation centers, Borras says that they try to do something new, something harder with every session that goes by.
“For each of the sessions, we aim to do something different as we progress. The goal is, at the end of that sixth and final session, you should be back to business,” the trigger point and sports injury specialist says. “There is no overload principle if you do the same thing each session. How will you become and perform better if you repeat the exact thing all over again?”
One other thing that separates them from other physical rehab centers is that they want the client to be at their 100 percent as soon as possible. That’s the difference if you go to a physiotherapy clinic that is specialized for athletes. This is why they are particular in their personnel’s credentials. The members of their team are specialists in specific techniques and, apart from being licensed physiotherapists, have continuous education.
“Seek someone very specific to the field, someone who can explain to you what is happening to your body and what you need,” she says, adding that it’s a big deal if a professional PT values you in the same way you value the job you have.
“We often forget that athletes are professionals themselves, too. LeBron James said, ‘I’m a professional, that’s why I only see professionals.’ Therefore if you are a pro and you value your work—whatever kind of work it is—then it should be important for you to go to work everyday without pain or discomfort,” the former UP Fighting Maroons physiotherapist explains. “We do not give general advice. The demands of each body are different. That’s the main reason why it’s important to seek professional help.”
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