A Great Massage Therapist

how to find a good massage therapist

A great Massage Therapist is like “The One!” They’re hard to find, you search everywhere for them and you never let them go once you’ve found one. And if for some reason you can’t see them anymore, you carry baggage around with you into any future therapeutic relationship. A great Massage Therapist will not be afraid of hard work, they will have done an exceptional amount of self directed learning and they will be able to get results for you that others can’t. And that’s why they’re the white whale of the healthcare industry. The massage therapy accreditation is not particularly hard to attain, that’s why It’s really hard to find all those qualities in someone who didn’t have to go to hell and back to get qualified.

Different people require different levels of care. Some people really enjoy the day spa massage, nice and relaxing! Some people think it’s therapeutic even. And to them, it probably is. But it’s not a particularly hard feat to get right. Some other people feel that a good deep tissue 1hr session is great. One where the therapist systematically goes through each muscle and relieves the strains. Again, with some hard work and application, that also is not a difficult task. It’s a template, and like all templates, they can be easily reproduced. But no one patient is the same, and a template approach will limit the results you get, and eventually leave the therapist burnt out.

Disclaimer: This is for Educational Purposes Only

Let me take a quick intercesion to inform you as to the nature of our advice. We are experienced healthcare clinicians. We wish to share our experience with you on topics to do with your health. We may be a little colourful in doing so, but at the heart of what we do is in-the-trenches experience. Whilst we have achieved academic success and understand evidence, we are not solely evidence based. We are, however, EVIDENCE INFORMED.

We find that the evidence is usually 10-15years (at minimum) behind what we are seeing in the clinic. We see real people, with real problems, and we’ve made a great living out of offering real solutions.

If all you’re after is the researched evidence, you can find some here (link to evidence page), or you can very easily look for more on Google. We want to give you real life advice, most of which you may not find in the research.

There is no way that this document can replicate or replace expert assessment and guidance given from a qualified registered healthcare practitioner who has seen you personally. I am sure you’re aware that I have no knowledge of your personal medical history or how you take care of your body. If you require care from a qualified practitioner, you would be best served by seeing someone who can empathise with your situation and treat you accordingly.

I’m sure you understand that I disclaim any and all responsibility for anything you do as a result of reading this document. And by reading this article, you accept 100% responsibility for the actions of you or anyone under your care.

So what are some of the qualities of a good Massage Therapist? 

  1. Well, like I said earlier, they must not be afraid of hard work. Tissue work is extremely tiresome, and if they’re not prepared for it, they won’t be able to cope with energy needed to treat patients. 
  2. They must have a good knowledge of anatomy. They must understand what and where they are working and be able know what the muscles do and how they function. At least at the most basic level.
  3. They must have good communication skills. They need to communicate to their patients what they are doing and why they are doing it. 

Those qualities may make for a good Massage Therapist, but not necessarily a great one. A great Massage Therapist will differentiate themselves from the pack by being able to THINK! Sounds simple right? Not so fast.

A great Massage Therapist needs to be able think way above his or her qualification grade. They must think critically about everything that they do and constantly learn based on that critique. They must figure out solutions to problems that they have not been exposed to at University or Student clinics where you’re given guidance, mentoring and pretty harsh criticism. To begin thinking, they must want to actually help you with a problem you have, not just rub you down for an hour.

In Australia, Massage Therapy is not government regulated. Meaning technically, anyone can call themselves a massage therapist. Although there has been attempts by the profession to self-regulate, this has produced a wide variety of qualities, from the day spa oil splasher, to the quality therapist we are discussing. The market also demands different qualities in therapists, giving us a wide scope of therapists. 

The thought process of a great Massage Therapist is the same as a great Osteopath, Physiotherapist or Chiropractor. What am I doing and why am I doing this? What kind of person am I working on and what are some of the considerations I need to know about this person? Which particular tool in my toolbox of techniques is best applied here? And how can I be as efficient as possible in applying my treatment and helping this person? As you can see, this is not a template. There is a different solution depending on the problem. For them to be able to answer all these questions, they would have had to complete a lot of self-directed learning, but mainly, they would have had to have guidance in applying all of that knowledge through a sound treatment philosophy.

Finally, a great Massage therapist will walk the talk. They will get you results. They will also possess many characteristics that successful people generally possess. This will cause them to do things in the pursuit of excellence in their profession. They would generally do a lot of strength training, because they know the amount of hard work involved in their job. They will have a growth mindset that leads them onto further education. And they will have solid mentorship from people they wish to learn from. 

The best place to find such a therapist is with other like minded professionals. If you know of a clinic with a solid reputation of getting results, then they will most likely not accept anyone working with them that can’t match their quality. They will also provide the necessary mentoring for growth, and the environment to keep them happy and motivated.


finding a good massage therapist

Daniel has progressed over the years into a phenomenal practitioner. A great massage therapist.

In my 20 years of having massage therapists work with me, two therapists have shown this mindset, only one has lasted in possessing those qualities. If you want to know who that is, click here! I’m not showing you this to toot his horn (although he is deserving), but merely to show you how hard it is to find such a therapist. To his credit, Daniel Salameh keeps getting better with his application and adherence to fundamental principles. His only limits are the amount of people he can see.

So sure, there are some good massage therapists out there. And if I’m visiting a day spa, lots of oil goes a long way. But if you’re looking for a great Massage therapist, someone with the qualities and dedication of a professional, you’re going to have to look long and hard. If you want to experience what qualities I’ve described to you, the best way is to book in with Daniel and find out.

Lower Back Pain: Dispelling Myths, Seeking Truth

Lower back pain myth

“All I did was bend over to pick up a pen! It’s a damn pen! It’s obviously not heavy. How in the hell could I have hurt my back picking up a pen?!”

If I had a dollar for every time I heard that story (or a similar version) I’d have at least $5k more than I have today. 

Lower Back Pain (LBP) is now classified as a disease, yes a disease! So futile is trying to understand this phenomenon, that we now equate it to something we catch. The research tells us that most people past the age of 30, will at some point experience some form of LBP. And if you’ve had lower back pain previously, your chances of having it are higher. If I had to guess, being conservative, I’d say at least 80% of people will suffer back pain at some point in their life.

Now, if you follow the research, it will tell you that nothing works. No treatment is especially effective, or everything works equally! Seems like the research can’t decide. How do we navigate this condition that is likely to affect you, if it already hasn’t?

See, the aim of research in the field of medicine is to analyse what is being studied from the point of view that the only thing that is being studied is relevant. When it comes to something as complicated as lower back pain, you can’t reduce the patient or treatment down to single factors or even a few multi-factors. When it comes to lower back pain, everything is relevant!

Your diet is relevant, how much you sleep is relevant, how much you sit and stand is relevant, how you sleep is relevant, what you do in the gym is relevant, it’s all relevant. That’s why different things work for different people, because we are all DIFFERENT!

So, if you’re looking for me to cite systematic reviews and randomised controlled trials, go look for them yourself. They’re out there and they won’t tell you much. I am however going to give you my opinion. My opinion is informed of the evidence but not solely based on it. It’s based on almost 20 years of experience in dealing and helping thousands of patients with LBP. And I have to say, I’ve been quite successful with it. I don’t have any magic techniques or special exercises. What I do have is a no-bullshit common sense approach. Now, a no-nonsense approach doesn’t mean we don’t empathise, or that we are arrogant with our claims. I’ve had to educate patients on things they thought were true about their pain, but weren’t. And I’ve been privileged to learn some things along the way that seem to make sense and explain this condition.

Disclaimer: This is for Educational Purposes Only

Let me take a quick intercesion to inform you as to the nature of our advice. We are experienced healthcare clinicians. We wish to share our experience with you on topics to do with your health. We may be a little colourful in doing so, but at the heart of what we do is in-the-trenches experience. Whilst we have achieved academic success and understand evidence, we are not solely evidence based. We are, however, EVIDENCE INFORMED. 

We find that the evidence is usually 10-15years (at minimum) behind what we are seeing in the clinic. We see real people, with real problems, and we’ve made a great living out of offering real solutions. 

If all you’re after is the researched evidence, you can find some here (link to evidence page), or you can very easily look for more on Google. We want to give you real life advice, most of which you may not find in the research.

There is no way that this document can replicate or replace expert assessment and guidance given from a qualified registered healthcare practitioner who has seen you personally. I am sure you’re aware that I have no knowledge of your personal medical history or how you take care of your body. If you require care from a qualified practitioner, you would be best served by seeing someone who can empathise with your situation and treat you accordingly

I’m sure you understand that I disclaim any and all responsibility for anything you do as a result of reading this document. And by reading this article, you accept 100% responsibility for the actions of you or anyone under your care.

Myth 1: You didn’t hurt your lower back picking up a pen!

As obvious as this statement seems, people still believe that whatever it was they picked up caused their pain. Now it may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back (all pun intended), but picking up a pen by itself in isolation is no cause for alarm. What would have significantly contributed to your back pain and subsequent failed attempt at pen olympics is the hours you spent sitting down at the office, the long drive everyday or the poor technique used in the gym. Maybe a leg length imbalance, or an old knee injury that makes you use the other side more. All of it, or some of it, is possible. The point I’m getting at is LOADING. 

Uncontrolled loading of your spine over time, creates fatigue, muscular imbalance, skewed nervous system reception/perception and a whole myriad of other signals that will eventually have you crawled up with LBP. 

My wife loves pickles, anything pickled. But she can never get the jar to open. So she hands it over to me. I don’t open it for her, I loosen it just enough so that she can apply enough force to open it herself. That’s true love right there!

Loading is quite the same. Once you load the spine with a complex combination of forces you’re not adapted to, then something as trivial as picking up a pen will break open your jar.

Myth 2: Pain equals damage. So lay down and rest!

I can’t begin to tell you the amount of times I’ve seen patients who paid a visit to their doctor and the advice given was to take some painkillers and get some bed rest. Not only will this NOT make you better, it will actually make you WORSE!

There are instances where lower back injuries will have actually caused a structural change to the back. Fractures come to mind. Disc injuries also come to mind. But it doesn’t mean that the structural change results in the pain. Did you notice how I didn’t use the word “damage.” Damage has a negative emotion attached to it. This negativity can actually drive your pain. We know this because there are people walking around with fractured spines and huge disc injuries  who are in no pain whatsoever.

So if you’re back isn’t actually damaged, then why in the hell would you stop using it?! Do what you can and use pain as an indicator. If you attempt something and it causes you pain, back off just a little and keep going. We call that the minimum effective dosage of movement. We want to give your back enough movement, so it understands that pain and immobility are NOT RELATED!

On an important note, movement encourages blood flow and circulation. Usually, most of your pain in the lower back is due to muscular spasm and inflammation. If you move around as best as you can, you will help with resolving the excess inflammation faster.

Myth 3: You need a scan to see what’s wrong!

I don’t like bashing on doctors, really I don’t (maybe a little)! The amount of unnecessary scans performed and bulk billed to the taxpayer would probably pay off the national debt of Borat’s Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan!

Scans are not specifically helpful in identifying the source of the pain. And they’re almost useless in identifying the cause of the pain. But physicians order them anyway, because they can point to a picture and say “there! There it is, you’ve slipped your disc!” The “slipped disc” explanation is wrong and the topic of another article.

But can you see that it gives them something to pin the pain on?! Let’s take the disc example. We know there are people out there with severe disc deformations and in NO PAIN at all. We also know that there are people out there, with clean scans, in huge amounts of pain. So it’s important that we don’t get caught up treating the image, we treat the patient!

If the image and the symptoms match, that may help us inform the patient. But competent practitioners should already know how disc injuries present. The symptoms, history and examination should give them enough info to get to a competent working diagnosis. Don’t just believe the scan results, your body has much more accurate information that can be used to help you.

Truth. I’m going to fill you in on some hard truths I’ve learnt over the years. I can even hear some of my own colleagues groan at this one. I know “truth” is a polarising word to use. And if you’re one of those armchair philosophers, sitting there, using words like objective and subjective…just stop! I’m going to lay down some truth bombs that have ALWAYS helped those that heed the advice.

Truth Bomb 1: A STRONG back is a HEALTHIER back.

I’ll go out on a limb and say this. Strong people deal with lower back pain much better than weak people! They’ve conditioned their body to withstand greater forces, different loaded ranges of motion, and are in generally better physical shape. LOADING isn’t that much of a big deal to strong people because they progressively OVERLOAD their training above and beyond their normal daily requirements. This makes daily tasks quite comfortable.

Weak people are only conditioned as far as their daily life requirements allow them to be. And since physical labour isn’t prevalent in modern society, we now not only have a few generations of weaklings, but also this feared epidemic we call Lower Back Pain.

Like I said earlier, most of us will suffer from lower back pain. The question you need to ask yourself is, when you do get lower back pain, would you prefer your back be strong…or weak? Don’t be weak. Get strong. And deal with your back pain naturally. It’ll pay off in many other ways too.

Lower back pain treatment solution squats

Squats done right will strengthen the lower back and teach you that pain and weakness are not related

Truth Bomb 2: You’re weak “core” has nothing to with your back pain. AT ALL!

Now that I’ve told you to go and get yourself strong, there are a few pilates instructors and exercise physiologists clapping on the sidelines, waiting to hand you some “core” exercises. You know…the crunches and leg flutters, the circus act.

The concept that a set of weak muscles found in your torso is responsible for your lower back pain is one of the biggest blatant lies in the health industry. This concept is pushed by lazy therapists who would rather hand you a bunch of useless exercises, then blame you for not improving because “you didn’t do them right.”

I’ve discussed the concept of a “core” in a previous article. It has no more of a connection to lower back pain than any other muscle or group of muscles in the body. These muscles will be generally adapted to the stresses you place on them. If you go and stress your body as a whole system, these muscles will get stronger too. You don’t need special circus freak exercises that don’t carry over to daily life.

So if you do see a therapist and they tell you that your back pain is due to a weak “core,” run the other way.

Truth Bomb 3: Good practitioners have REAL solutions for your Lower Back Pain.

Now if the research is telling us that there is nothing that is particularly more effective than anything else, how the hell do we know what to do? Who do we see?

Well the answer to that is meant to be a competent healthcare practitioner. A therapist that can apply science effectively. They should be the ones who know what to do. So the real question now becomes… How do we know which practitioner to see?

Now, the science out there about LBP is the same for everyone. What separates successful practitioners from others is their ability to interpret the science, their own experience, and to apply their PHILOSOPHY in treatment. They should treat the body as a whole system, not break it up into parts. They should have a knowledge of the research and science and also have in-the-trenches experience helping people. This will have enabled them to put together practically effective treatments, based on a solid diagnosis. And when they do this for years, they will understand what works and what doesn’t. Experience matters in these situations, but there are many instances of young competent practitioners who have been mentored really well. 

Finally, empathy is key. A good practitioner will be able to empathise with your situation. They want to understand the impact LBP has on your life and they also care about giving you a solution. If you feel that the questions they ask you don’t reflect empathy, then you may not be confident in their treatment. Effective treatment requires partnership between patient and practitioner. A good practitioner will know there is a light at the end of the tunnel, where as you may not. It’s their job to get the results that bring you closer to the light. 

When dealing with LBP, it’s ok to be a little cynical and ask many questions. It’s a complicated problem that actually has simple solutions. But simple isn’t always easy. It’s not the end of the world. Common sense should prevail and provided you do your part as in seeking out a quality professional, a good practitioner will find simple, effective solutions.

Comparison of Chiro Vs Osteo Vs Physio

Differences between chiro, physio, osteo and massage therapy

Two of the most common questions I get asked in the clinic is “What’s the difference between an Osteopath, a Physiotherapist, and a Chiropractor?” or “Which is better, Chiro, Physio or Osteopathy?” My opinions are formed over many years of experience.

My experience contains my biases. My biases are neither bad nor good, they just are! My experience then affects my opinions. This cycle is constantly repeated, and success or failure is a byproduct of this repeated cycle. I’m an Osteopath. I have a differing opinion on many things than a physio or a chiro. On some things, we share a similar opinion.

Whilst this article will contain some facts, it’s ultimately, like all things I say, my opinion. To me, one thing has made itself evidently true though. A great therapist and a bad therapist (yes there is such a thing) will generally always have a significant difference of opinion.

chiro vs physio vs osteo vs massage therapy

Chiropractic, Osteopathy & Physiotherapy. The three main regulated hands-on Allied health professions that deal with the whole body.

We practitioners care about how our professions are defined because it groups us in together and we obviously want the best possible reputation. But the general public, Joe Average the patient, what you are really asking is, which one of these professions can best help me with my problem?

It’s a difficult question to answer in the treatment room, as you’re trying to focus on getting the person in front of you feeling better. Whilst I don’t want to make sweeping generalisations about the professions, I invariably have to. I’ll try and give you my answer to this question, in slightly more detail than what you may get from me in the clinic, in the hope that you actually care for that detail. But first, a small comment on healthcare and medicine that can add some context.

In reality, when it comes to Medicine, philosophy is king. In this age of information and Google, it’s all out there for everyone to access. There are no special practitioners with inside knowledge that you can’t access. There is however, GOOD MEDICINE, and BAD MEDICINE. Those who practice good medicine with logical philosophy will build up a wealth of experience that will give them higher rates of success. Those who don’t, will have lower rates of success. Those who are more successful will have a more valuable opinion.

Disclaimer: This is for Educational Purposes Only

Let me take a quick intercession to inform you as to the nature of our advice. We are experienced, healthcare clinicians. We wish to share our experience with you on topics to do with your health. We may be a little colourful in doing so, but at the heart of what we do is in-the-trenches experience. Whilst we have achieved academic success and understand the evidence, we are not solely evidence-based. We are, however, EVIDENCE INFORMED. 

We find that the evidence is usually 10-15 years (at minimum) behind what we are seeing in the clinic. We see real people, with real problems, and we’ve made a great living out of offering real solutions. 

If all you’re after is the researched evidence, you can find some here (link to evidence page), or you can very easily look for more on Google. We want to give you real-life advice, most of which you may not find in the research.

There is no way that this document can replicate or replace expert assessment and guidance given from a qualified registered healthcare practitioner who has seen you personally. I am sure you’re aware that I have no knowledge of your personal medical history or how you take care of your body. If you require care from a qualified practitioner, you would be best served by seeing someone who can empathise with your situation and treat you accordingly.

I’m sure you understand that I disclaim any and all responsibility for anything you do as a result of reading this document. And by reading this article, you accept 100% responsibility for the actions of you or anyone under your care.

To give you an example, one would think that a knee specialist would have a better treatment protocol of the knee than say… a successful massage therapist. I’ve conversed with a knee surgeon that practices good medicine. I’ve also conversed with a knee surgeon whom I consider a butcher. They all have studied much longer than the massage therapist, but one had a sound patient-centric philosophy, and the other didn’t. I would value the opinion of a successful massage therapist with a good philosophy than the butcher! I said earlier that great therapists will have different opinions than bad ones. Inversely, great therapists will generally arrive at the same conclusions as other great therapists.

When discussing the 3 main manual-therapy professions, I’ll first refer to the definition given by Allied Health Professionals Australia (AHPA), the national voice for those professions in Australia. I will then give some details on the traditional pathways of these professions, and some pros and cons for each.

Physiotherapists

Physiotherapy: (AHPA) “Physiotherapists are experts in the structure of the human body and its movement. They work with people of all ages to treat a broad range of health conditions including sports injuries and musculoskeletal conditions as well as chronic health conditions such as diabetes, obesity, osteoarthritis, and stroke. Physiotherapists are involved in the assessment, diagnosis, planning, and management of patient care. Physiotherapists work across a range of health settings including private practices, public and private hospitals, community health centers, residential aged care facilities and sports organisations.” 

Traditionally, physiotherapy education is generally grounded in evidence-based practice. This is reflected in a generally heavier slant towards electro-therapies such as ultrasound and TENS machine treatment, alongside exercise prescription. Whilst they do learn basic massage, their manual hands-on application is minimal.

  • Pros: Physios provide great focus on exercise, movement, and rehabilitation in their education. They do great work in hospital settings with helping patients post-surgery, recovering from orthopedic injuries and stroke.
  • Cons: They don’t have a defined philosophy that underpins their treatment approach, and very little hands-on focus on their education. Practitioners who have a wider range of treatment options available to them have generally had to go looking for that knowledge outside of their profession, especially when it comes to hands-on treatment.

Chiropractors

Chiropractic: (AHPA) “A chiropractor diagnoses and offers treatment for back pain and disorders of the musculoskeletal system. The treatment may include manipulation, massage or ergonomic advice. Chiropractors in Australia are a nationally registered and regulated healthcare profession. Chiropractors work in private practice.” 

Traditionally, Chiropractors have had an almost direct focus on the spine, with their main tool of treatment being spinal joint manipulation, based on the Subluxation Model (a joint that is out of alignment will cause nervous system disruption). Learning of soft tissue treatment is generally self-directed.

  • Pros: Good Chiropractors are able to help people suffering from spinal pain and have become synonymous with spinal manipulation. If this is a treatment option for you, (and it may well be) spinal manipulative movement can help you get moving again.
  • Cons: The Subluxation Model has been pretty much thrown in the toilet by modern science and imaging, and so with it, the core traditional philosophy of Chiropractic. To make up for this, they have had to do lots of self-directed learning to align their treatment with sound principles. Practically, however, this looks like some spinal manipulation and exercise mashed up together. How it’s applied will be down to the individual practitioner.

Want to visit a chiropractor? Book in to see Dr. Guy Finch or Dr. Fadi Habanbou.

Osteopath

Osteopathy: (AHPA) “An osteopath has a clinical focus on the way the body works, in strains or injuries and in human movement. They provide direct manual therapy interventions including exercise prescription, needling, education and associated lifestyle advice to improve movement, reduce pain and manage and/or treat a range of physical impairments. Osteopaths mainly work in private practices but also work in a range of health settings including multidisciplinary medical/health clinics, rehabilitation clinics, aged care facilities, professional sports clubs, government, chronic pain management settings, and research institutes.” 

Traditionally, Osteopathy has been very philosophy focused. It’s principles ask that the body be looked at as a total unit, with a heavy mechanical focus on the relationship between the structure and function of the body. Osteopaths rely on the self-healing mechanisms of the body and are bound to treat in this manner. Their education is very hands-on heavy, giving them access to a multitude of treatment options.

  • Pros: A sound philosophy of treatment can almost always produce desirable results, given that it’s applied properly. Being tied to philosophy and principles tends to allow for greater access to areas “outside of the box.” This can be especially helpful when seeing conditions that everyone has seemingly had a crack at and no-one has been able to solve. If this sounds like you, then an Osteopath may be your best bet.
  • Cons: Their reliance on hands-on treatment application means their rehab and exercise prescription tradition has not been strong. Although there have been advances in education in recent years, this remains an area for improvement. Self-directed learning is still required here.

Want to visit an osteopath? Book in to see Dr Sami Karam.

Comparison – the difference between chiro vs osteo vs physio

What is better out of physio, chrio, osteo and massage therapy?

To the general public, it looks like the physio gives me exercises, the chiro cracks my spine, and the Osteo kinda does everything, but nothing in particular. And here is the dilemma these professions face. Physios and Chiros have attached themselves to something they do, whilst Osteopaths have attached themselves to a way they think. From a marketing perspective, it’s been much easier to advertise to the general public when you tell them what you do. It’s much harder to explain to someone how you think in a 30-second snippet.

Like I said earlier, in the real world, there is just good medicine and bad medicine. When something is heard loudly in the media, it’s usually about the bad practitioners. The good ones are just silently going about their business helping people. You’ll hear about the good ones through friends, family, and colleagues. Before the speedy internet age, all you had to be was great at what you do. If you mastered your skill and helped people, those people would rant and rave about you and you would be busy. In today’s internet age, you can be a relatively unskilled therapist and market yourself to get busy. That’s the power of Google!

How to pick a practitioner?

So here are my top four tips for finding a great practitioner:

  1. Check out how long they’ve been practicing. Do they have a professional clinic, reception, a proper functioning business, all that stuff. If they’re professional and they’ve been doing it for a while, chances are they’ve put the same effort into their skillset. If they’re a younger practitioner, make sure they have been mentored by experienced colleagues.
  2. They must empathise with you. Do they understand your pain points? Or at least are they trying to. Do they have experience in the things that you’re seeking. If you’re a weekend tennis tragic, have they asked you about this? Are they interested in your lifestyle and pressures? All these things that the research neglects, a great practitioner will use to figure out your problem and help you find a solution.
  3. They must believe that they are the best possible person to help you at that point in time. Now obviously, everyone will think they are best poised to help you, and that’s great. They should have opinions and express those to you in a sound and logical manner. They should be able to answer your questions. If they can’t, they should be secure enough to say they can’t and go and do some learning for you. The point is, sniff out indecision and hesitation and run from it like the plague!
  4. Results! That’s it. The results are KING. If the person you are looking for does not have a track history of getting results for their patients, then time to move on to the next candidate. That’s why word of mouth is still the best way to find the right fit for you.

In saying all of this, if you do find a great practitioner that is helping you, trust in them. See the value not only in that treatment that they are performing, but the years of education they have accumulated to bring you that result. They will get even better and more efficient at helping you as time progresses and they learn the intricacies of your body.

Throughout the process of writing this article, I’ve restricted myself in making the claim that out of the 3 professions, Osteopathy presents itself as a primary choice because of its logical philosophy that underpins everything it professes. This restriction is not my style and I find my skin crawling with ants of hesitation! So I’m about to relieve myself of this agitation and give you my opinion. Whilst some Physios and Chiros may arrive at a sound philosophy out of sheer perseverance of excellence, Osteopathy makes sure that sound philosophy is directly part of its education process. Are there good Physios and Chiros out there? Yes, there are! I’ve worked with many. Are there some lazy Osteopaths out there? Sure, I’ve worked with a few of those too. 

But here’s the thing. What all the great practitioners have in common is that they are all great thinkers. They view the body as a united system. They view the real person as a total functional structure living in a world where gravity and the laws of physics don’t wait for the “researched evidence” to tell them what to do. And they then proceed to practice GOOD MEDICINE based on those assumptions. They are not lazy, they accumulate treatment techniques over time and apply it with confidence. Sounds awfully close to Osteopathy to me! All great practitioners move closer to Osteopathic philosophy as they get better. Even Osteopaths. That’s my opinion!

Osteo vs Chiro vs Physio

Want to learn more about these practices? Find more about Osteo, Chiro and Physio.

The Value You Never See

The Value You Never See

It’s always hard to place a value on health. Many people say there is nothing more important than your health, but putting a dollar value on that is difficult. For the father that can’t work and provide for his family because of debilitating spinal pain, relief can often be priceless. For the mum that can’t look after her children because of back pain, a reduction of pain is literally life altering. How do you price that? And what are you really paying for when you have a consultation? Therapists often struggle with charging the correct amount of money for the service they provide. But do patients really understand what they receive for their payment? It’s a real struggle, because the results we get and the time spent becoming good enough to get those results are hard to quantify from person to person, and very hard to justify to a community looking for their version of value.

The Value You Never See
Pricing your health results is more than just time spent in consultation

One thing I know for sure is that therapists who are motivated primarily by income don’t last long in the business. It’s ok (and preferable) that good therapists make a decent living and do well from their professions. Successful hard work should have great rewards, one of those being financial. But the main motivation for most of the professionals I know (including myself) is primarily to help people. We got into this line of work so we can make a significant difference to people’s lives. Money is a byproduct of how successful you are at that and how much reach you can achieve. I don’t know of any Allied Health professionals who are billionaires from this line of work. Sure they make a decent living, but there is only so many hours in the day, so many people you can see and only so much you can scale a service based business. So when the general public, your clients, get the impression that you are in this primarily for the money, they are usually dead wrong!

value of health professionals
True health and wealth are inter-related. We want to help you, that’s what we’re here for

Now I can’t (and shouldn’t) speak for a whole health profession, but at least in our case, at our clinics, commercial interest is not our primary motivation. This was pounded into me by my mentors and I have made sure to only work with those people who share a similar value. We believe in trying to get the best result, in the most time and cost-effective way possible. We don’t like unnecessary treatment and we definitely don’t want you to be in pain for longer than you have to. In saying that, not everyone will get it. Not all our clients will be convinced, and some will never see the value you give them, even after helping them for many years, through many painful periods in their life. They’re skeptical and counting the dollars they spend with you.

value of investing in health
Time and cost-effective treatment is one of our core values

So when patients see us, because they have a booking at a certain time, they assume that they’re paying for our time and that’s it. That maybe true, but not in the way you think it’s true. Patients aren’t paying for our time in that consultation, they are paying for our time at University (5yrs), they are paying for the accumulated time (and money) spent (and still spend) doing courses, they are paying for the time we spend reading and learning, they are paying for the time we spent examining and assessing, they are paying for the time we spend with our colleagues discussing their problems, they are paying for the lessons I’ve learnt from the countless mistakes I’ve made, the countless injuries I’ve seen just like theirs. Because all of that, the whole accumulated 16yrs of knowledge, mistakes, wins/losses, hard work goes into a diagnosis and a treatment. In short, you’re not just paying for my time, you’re getting value from the many years of accumulated knowledge and hard work, that gets more efficient everyday, allowing me to get more results for you in the shortest amount of time possible.

value of physio osteo chiro
Flying to Melbourne to attend a 2-day course on Neuro-Typing and Program Design

One thing I have learned in my years is that overtreatment is a real thing. Like overcooking meat, overtreatment can lead to the opposite effect that you’re looking for. The body can tighten and guard, and because you’ve worked on too may structures, the nervous system fails to respond to the specific problem that we’ve identified. There are some types of people who require less frequency and more time to bring about the desired result. Older people, people with arthritic degenerative conditions are some examples. But if you’re generally healthy, but have a problem that’s developed over time from you doing something over and over again, you may require a more direct approach. These issues require shorter, more targeted treatment, more frequently. This is so because you’ve developed a bad pattern, and to break that pattern, a good therapist will identify the pattern, be able to bring it into a better balance with the rest of the body, then leave the body alone to do it’s magic and heal. They will do this again within the space of about 2-4 days until they assess that there’s been a change to the system. In most cases, this may take 4-8 sessions, twice a week for two, three, maybe 4 weeks. But they key here, is not to overcook them in the treatment. If you do too much, spend too long, if you lose efficiency, you’re likely to get poor results. This will obviously cost you more time and money than coming in once a week, but not as much as it will cost you getting a poor result. And once you get a good result, you can move the patient into less frequency, encourage more activity at a higher intensity and slowly get them off treatment altogether. So…Why in the hell would you want me to spend 30-60 mins with you when I can achieve the result in 15 mins?! Do you not see the value in the result?! Do you not see the value we’ve given you in however many months/years we’ve helped you time and time again?! Do you really think we’re primarily commercially driven?

investment in osteo osteopathy
Efficient treatment needs to requires specific diagnosis and targeted application

I’ve learnt the lesson the hard way. I’ve worked on people for way too long when they’ve asked for it, knowing in my gut that it was not what they needed, but what they wanted. They saw that getting more of my time meant more value for them. They never improved and they never came back. Yes, some people require more of your time, for example, if their problem is soft tissue (muscle) based, it will take you more time. So you give it to them. But if their problem is more structural/mechanical, then efficiency is key. Here, less time is required depending on the skill level of the practitioner. That may upset you if you’ve previously required more time from me. You might see that as getting less value, and you might get upset and go looking for solutions elsewhere, solutions that fit what you want, not what you need. Maybe we need to do a better job communicating that discrepancy, but in my experience, most of these patients come back. And we welcome them with open arms, without judgement, because primarily we are here to help. There are the few stubborn ones, but we figured out real quick that we don’t want them anyway.

professional health advice gives value
Communication is key to helping people understand the most efficient approach

Most professionals in my field are agreeable people. Agreeable people tend to be more empathetic and go the extra mile to make others happy. Whilst empathy is a powerful character trait to possess, agreeableness without consideration will ruin a good practitioner. It will burn them out. As people demand more of them, they give more. But there’s only so much you can give. You learn to become efficient. Almost cerebral in the application of your profession. You retain your empathy because the project you’re working on is an actual person, flesh and blood, with hopes, dreams, a story and character. You are but a helper on their journey. We don’t want to waste your time. Even if you want to waste your own time, we don’t want to waste our time. Because we’re also flesh and blood, with hopes, dreams, a story and character. You have come to seek our professional help, to seek our skills and passion. So let us help you using our accumulated knowledge. See the true value and assess us on that. When we assess you, you expect us to ask about and understand the months and years you’ve spent creating this problem for us to solve. So when you judge our performance as therapists, why don’t you see the years we’ve spent to help you right now?!

value of health professionals
Let us help you. Together, we can help save you time, money and pain

If you’re seeking a good practitioner that will provide you with true value, find someone that empathises with your situation, learns and understands how it is you got to where you are that you need their help, and then let them help you based on how they got to where they are. Only then can you judge if you’re getting true value. And if you have been seeing someone for years, and they have a history of getting good results for you, you are very lucky. They will generally understand your body better than anyone else and be able to be very efficient with their assessment and treatment. In most of these cases, you’re receiving far more value than the dollars you’re paying.

Why Your Kid Sucks At Football

Why your kid sucks at football

Walking home from primary school, most days I had a football in hand (we called it soccer back then, a step forward from WogBall). I was deep in thought about whether the last goal we scored at lunchtime counted for the win… because it happened as the bell rang for the end of lunch. Steve and I were adamant that our team had won, but Khaled and Sunjay were insisting that it was a draw because the bell meant the end of the match, and the ball hadn’t crossed the line yet. It made little difference that the line they were talking about happened the be a line between two trees. This happened most lunchtimes, on most school days.

Why Your Kid Sucks At Football

When I got home, I ate, watched an episode of the Ninja Turtles as my brother and I kicked around a small ball (made out of socks wrapped in sticky tape) around the house. I did my homework and then got ready to be picked up by our football coach for football training. By day, our coach was a butcher, so he would drive up the front of my driveway, beep the horn, I’d come out. He’d open his butcher delivery van that had two front seats and nothing in the back except for a team full of 10 year olds rolling around the back of the van until we got to the park…no seatbelts…no seats…just a hard clean metal floor. We’d go train for a couple of hours, then he’d throw us back in the van and drop us off at home. When I got home, we’d kick the sticky tape ball around some more, until our parents got home from work and screamed at us for breaking something. This happened for most part of the year, on most nights of the week. They were very happy memories.

“In recent times, football in this country has been catering to the lambs instead of the lions.”

Fast forward 27 years and I’m in the treatment room with a 10 year old kid on the table with growing pains. Treating this particular condition isn’t difficult. What is difficult is having to sit there and listen to the parent telling me how their kid is the next best thing in football, and it’s imperative that I “fix him, because he just has to play.”

In my 15 years in this industry I’ve had the pleasure of treating many a young football player. It’s my special area of interest. I like the kids, and I always get a kick out of helping them. Out of 1000’s of kids, usually 20% are involved at a high level for their age. A handful of about 10 have been extremely gifted, of which to this day maybe 5 kids have grown up to be professional footballers playing either overseas or domestically in the A-League. So based on the numbers, it’s highly likely that your kid won’t make it. It’s a low probability that your kid is even talented. And the likelihood is actually that when it comes to football, your kid sucks! Now that may sound harsh to you, but after all the participation and “most improved” trophies that your child has collected, harsh reality is really what’s needed here. Participation has it’s own rewards, you don’t need a trophy for it. It’s silly horseshit, and it needs to stop. The kids who are getting the MVP trophies aren’t even making it, what in the hell do you think your precious little pumpkin is going to do?!

Why your kid sucks at football

But why? Why does my kid, our kids… why are our kids sucking so badly these days at football?

Well, there are 4 main reasons. Mark Bosnich touched on these in his article, but they deserve a deeper comment.

  1. Your kid’s sporting development is too specific, too soon
  2. Your kid doesn’t spend enough time with the football doing what they want
  3. Your kid does not know how to win or lose
  4. Your kid is weak and would rather be on the PlayStation

Not my kid! My kid has been at the best academies since he was a fetus.

Improve child football soccer

Well let’s examine that for a minute. Your kid pretty much has been involved in football the whole of autumn, winter and spring, then they go play futsal, then they go to summer football camp, with maybe two weeks off at Christmas. Well when do you expect them to 1) rest, recover and reset their motor learning patterns and 2) Learn new motor patterns? Recovery is a finite resource. In humans we need time and the right hormonal milieu to make optimum recovery. For God’s sake, give your kids a small break from competitive, serious training. Get them doing some other things that require different motor patterns. Martial Arts, Rock Climbing, Swimming, send them to a farm and let them chase chickens, climb trees and throw rocks. They will come back with a fresh nervous system and actually learn the football techniques that are being taught.
Not my kid! My kid gets plenty of good rest and eats well, and he’s got the best coaches looking after him.

Now whilst I do agree that we have quality football people in this country, I also agree with Bozza that those quality people don’t dominate the football landscape. Out of all the coaches I’ve come across (and there are about 30 that I know of) who have opened their own academies, I would only trust my son with definitely one…maybe two. That being said, this is still not the main issue here. The main issue is overcoaching. Your kid must play into a system. They must pass the ball when the coach says to pass the ball (which is always). Dribbling is not allowed. We have placed too many rules on how kids play, so they are not able to express their talent…if they have any. That’s why poor kids playing on the street, end up being Pele, Maradona, Messi and Neymar. They get to dribble enough to finally learn how to do it so that you can’t get the ball off them. They also get their legs kicked hard enough so that they learn when they have dribbled too much. And they have a hell of a lot of fun doing it. The cones and sticks the coaches use cannot replace the reaction that 10 kids chasing you requires. It builds instinct. Listen up here. This is an important concept. The best coaches create an environment that allows a player to naturally express THEIR talent. Not the coach’s talent, or the system… but the natural talent of the player.

Bad at football soccer

Not my kid! He’s well-rested, has played all different sports and does really well at football.

Seems like a nice kid. What a sweet little fella he must be.

I never met a gifted footballer who didn’t have a burning desire to win that was almost pathological. Which means they may come across as sore losers at first. But they shouldn’t like losing or be comfortable with it. In recent times, football in this country has been catering to the lambs instead of the lions. At young levels, we don’t keep score anymore, we make sure everyone gets to kick the ball, and we hand out participation trophies to all the kids. Then we wonder why our Joeys can’t win anymore, and why our Young Socceroos go from the top 3 in the world to not qualifying for major tournaments. But we don’t care about them just yet, we care about your kid. Let them experience winning and losing and learning from both. And if your kid is playing at a high level, call out the parents encouraging mediocrity. Even better, don’t be that parent!

Improve soccer skill
Not my kid! He’s really gifted. He’s 13 and we’ve done all the right things. All the clubs want him. He’s going to make it.

Well I hope so, but if I had to bet, I don’t think so. My football at school lunchtimes, at home and then at training was about 15hrs per week. Of which 10hrs were spent playing around with my friends dribbling and doing what I wanted. Your kid would be lucky to get 8hrs per week of which maybe 2 hrs they’re actually doing stuff they like. I had 15hrs, I was mildly talented with little athletic ability. I was nowhere near making it. Do you seriously think your child is going to go pro because you’ve signed him up to an academy twice per week. Keep dreaming! Your kid at 13, would rather be playing FIFA on the PlayStation than be playing outside with his friends. Why? because you need the friends that want to do that, and all of them need to like it more than the PlayStation… or the Ipad… or Youtube..and as Ned Zelic recently pointed out, you need the HUNGER. Does he have friends that would rather play in the park? Do his friend’s parents want them playing in the park? There are so many variables here outside of your control. Poor kids do a better job of being talented than well-off kids, because a ball is cheap and trees make good goal posts. (FYI: If you can afford a PlayStation, your kids are well-off). During your childhood, it’s likely that your parents worked long hours and you spent time being a kid doing shit with your friends. Now you’re somewhat successful and you’ll be damned if your kids are hanging around at the park with their friends. Do you see the pattern here?

Soccer video game

And if your kid gets to his teenage years and is still performing at a high level in the highest competitions, it’s also highly likely that he is weak. Yes I said it, your kid is WEAK! All your boy is doing by now is playing football and the only strength adaptation he has is to barely make it through a 90min game. If the intensity goes up for any sustained period of time, the likelihood of injury is very high. We avoid this as much as we can by getting STRONG. We get strong by lifting weights, not by playing more football or “running” or training our “core.” While this maybe a controversial topic to you, it need not be. Let’s break it down real quick. Speed and balance require strength. Strength is the application of force against an external resistance. If you want to get strong you need to move heavy shit. It’s as simple as that, and as factual as that. It is a concept that you cannot argue with. One of the effects of being strong is that your tendons and joints also get strong. And guess what happens then, your risk of injury reduces.

How to improve your childs sports ability
Not my kid! He’s got the skill, a killer instinct, playing at a high level and he strength trains in the offseason. It’s like he sleeps with the ball.

Ok, now you may have a chance. But seriously, how many kids do you know that do this. The probability is very low, and the likelihood that your kid is doing these things is extremely low too. Look, this phenomena is not restricted to football. We’re getting our asses handed to us in cricket by the Indians. The Kiwis don’t even break a sweat against the Wallabies in the Rugby. All the best athletes in Rugby League are Polynesian. Our Olympic performances are generally getting worse, not better. Our tennis stars are entitled brats that don’t actually win Grand Slams…forget even thinking about No1 in the world. The funny thing is that I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. Football, or excellence in anything really, starts at home. It starts with personal responsibility, a rare commodity these days.

You may have noticed that I have referred to boys in this article and not girls. Girls haven’t largely experienced this problem where the sport has a larger female participation. Sports like swimming, gymnastics, and dancing require by default huge amounts of time spent practicing. And girls aren’t as attracted to PlayStations nearly as much as boys are. They are still better social creatures who prefer hanging out with their friends playing netball to playing a PlayStation. Phones on the other hand can be a problem, but a post, tweet, a picture doesn’t take the whole afternoon. And funny enough, I wonder why our football females are doing much better than our males by comparison, with less money and resources?!

So what all of this means to you is, the next time you come into my treatment room telling me to “fix” your next big thing, maybe chill out a little bit about fixing him real quick. Let the kid heal so he can play with his friends, doing stuff he likes. When he’s ready, emphasise the importance of general strength as a human quality. I guarantee you he’ll be a better footballer for it, and more importantly, a better person.