An Olympian’s Perspective on Manual Therapy

August 10, 2016

Article written by Kris Kuehl, DPT

krisKuehl1The 2016 Olympics have officially begun, so I’m pretty fired up. Before I became a physical therapist, I was a world class discus thrower and competed in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia, as well as several other Team USA events. I consider myself to be knowledgeable on what athletes need in order to prepare for major competitions. Of course we expect athletes to practice their sports, work on their strength and conditioning, carefully watch their food choices, and sharpen their mental focus. While all these practices are important for athletes to maintain, it is also integral that athletes take the time to recover from injury and learn to prevent injury.

Like all high level athletes, I’ve had my share of injuries and regularly received physical therapy, with countless visits with physical therapist Liz Schorn at PTOSI Minneapolis– thanks Liz.   While traveling for competitions or training trips, I also received care from other physical therapists or “physios” (that’s what they call PTs in some countries), from Australia to Argentina. In my experience, one common trait that the best PTs shared was skill in manual therapies. Manual therapy is when therapists use their hands on the patient’s body to assess physical impairments and treat them. This is usually done in addition to traditional physical therapy exercise/movement retraining. Manual therapy was critical to my success and the longevity of my career. I can’t think of any Olympic athlete that would disagree or settle for anything less.

There is no shortage of evidence in PT research confirming that the best approach to treating most conditions is a combination of manual therapy and exercise/movement retraining. Now that I am a PT myself, I can’t imagine doing it any other way, as the majority of my patients need it. I’m very happy to be part of the team at PTOSI because I know how much this concept is valued and supported. Anyone considering physical therapy should expect to be assessed for the appropriateness of manual therapy in their treatment plan, and rest assured, this will happen at PTOSI.

Read more about manual therapy at PTOSI by clicking on the link: