My clients are a very proactive bunch. Of course they are- they consult the services of an Exercise Physiologist to be the best runner they can be. Many also utilise the services of other Health Practitioners in conjunction- Podiatrists, Physios, Chiropractors, Massage Therapists etc. This is a good thing- providing everyone is clear on the role they are playing in the client’s life and the roles of the fellow Practitioners that this person is also consulting with.
Here is a an example of this done well.
One of my clients, a 1-2x p/year marathoner who sees me for Strength and Conditioning also consults with:
- A Physio, who does deep tissue massage.
- A Chiro, who helps her maintain lumbopelvic mobility and function.
- A Podiatrist, who manages her use of orthotics.
- A Running Coach, who takes care of her running programming.
This works well because everyone knows what this woman wants from each of us, and respects the boundaries of what she wants from them as a member of her team. I do consult with each of these people as the need arises, but always in the context of what will affect her Strength and Conditioning training- or how my training might affect their role.
Here is an example of this done not-so-well.
Another one of my clients, who was recently referred to me by his Podiatrist to assess his lumbopelvic mechanics in gait, and also be his S&C coach also consults with:
- The Podiatrist that referred him to me obviously, who is managing a retrocalcaneal bursitis and hypertonicity of the Soleus muscles- who consults with me regularly.
- A Massage Therapist- who takes care of soft-tissue work, but has also made recommendations for changing gait (without watching him run).
- A Physio- who he sees to help manage the acute stage of the bursitis has made contrary recommendations for changing gait, again without watching him run- as well as strength training recommendations (without watching him move).
The advice given to this client seems to have been given off-the-cuff and I think was spoken about in general terms- but this client is a classic type-A personality and takes everything literally and implements it to 100%. So after a few weeks working with me to free up his hips and improve glute utilisation in readiness to transfer to his running, he says to me:
“Ok this makes sense, but my Massage Therapist has told me to start running on my forefoot, and my Physio has told me I need to run at a cadence of 180 steps per minute- so should I do all of this”.
“Yeah, just go through your expanding checklist of gait changes with each and every step you take- oh and one step takes about 1/3 of a second so you better tick your list off quickly” was what I should have responded. I was more diplomatic than that.
The problem here was not the advice he has been given. Everything he has been told has merit and can absolutely be justified (though not without a thorough assessment beforehand I should add). The problem is the lack of communication between the members of his team, and the lack of clarity in everyone’s roles.
So what can we do. A good place to start when taking on a runner as a client would be to ask the following questions:
- What are you hoping to get from me?
- Are you consulting with anyone else for this purpose?
- Are you consulting with anyone else regarding your running?
- What role/s are they playing in your life?
- Do you mind if I speak with these people so that we are all on the same page?
Pretty simple really. It seems I have a couple of phone calls to make!Share this with others