What kind of Therapist do you want to be?

When I first started practicums (which feels like ages ago), my first supervisor told me to “work under as many different therapists as you can” to see different styles and ways of working alongside different clientele and focuses. Since then I’ve worked in numerous clinics under different ATs and even a Chiro/AT. I’ve attended extra seminars and conferences, and begun my own training and movement client base under the supervision of my mentor. I took that advice to heart and tried my best to learn and observe a variety of treatment styles, even if they didn’t always match up with my own philosophies. What better way to learn and grow your own ideas then to experience other’s ideas?

Recently, after a discussion on different treatment styles, philosophies, and options,  I was asked by a young patients mother what kind of Therapist I wanted to be. After close to 4 years observing, practicing under supervision, and interning… you’d think I’d have a fluent answer to give. Yet, I struggled with my answer. It’s not that I don’t have an idea or a perception of who and what I’m becoming as a professional, but it was how to describe it.

The thing with the profession I’m in is that pretty much every successful and practicing AT/Kinesiologist I’ve met has the same vision for what we do. Varying ways to get the same thing done. Yes, personalities and treatment styles are different.. but the atmosphere and goals are generally the same. Some may focus more on manual/soft tissue work while some my focus more on movement modalities. Some attend conferences and seminars on one thing, while others attend with interest in another. But at the end of the day, they all want their patients to get better, be better, and live better. They accomplish this with patient education, continuing ed for themselves, evidence based treatments, and knowledgeable exercise therapy programs.

So.. what kind of therapist do I want to be?

Early on I recognized I had a love for solving a problem and improving performance. This is one reason I fell in love with biomechanics and movement correction. Not only do these areas benefit athletes of all levels, they are practical and useful to general population clients as well. I’ve always had a thing for teaching and empowering people, which has blossomed as I’ve progressed into this career choice. The past month or so I’ve had the pleasure of seeing a client progress from being unable to walk without the support of crutches and deal with two legs that just would not do his bidding to being able to walk across the room standing up straight, unsupported. His renewed positivity and insatiable drive to keep improving is inspiring and motivating to say the least. Every patient or client I have that realizes their own ability to improve themselves is something that inspires and motivates me. I’ve realized more and more lately how blessed I am to have found a career that enables me to empower others, and also brings substance and meaning to my own life. This is something I’m very grateful for.

Of course there are days where I’m tired, I’m unmotivated, and I’m nervous for my upcoming certification exams. Some of those days I still end up working with clients, or doing my jobs.. and I always come out of the day feeling better and a little more motivated. Leading up to my exams this fall, I am both nervous, and excited. I know I have a solid base to support me and I have a preparation plan leading up to the actual exams. More then anything I feel undeniably ready to take this next step in my career path. As someone who is always about 5years ahead of herself, this exam is only a doorway to the next thing.

I want to be a therapist that is inspiring, knowledgeable, and trustworthy. I want my clients to leave sessions feeling like they have the tools to help themselves. I never want to stop learning, or lose the ability to adapt to each patient and work in a style that best suits them. I want to be a chameleon therapist that can fit into anyone’s mindset, see through their eyes, and change their perceptions on their body, health, and lifestyles if needed. I want to promote my profession and help change the way the world views healthcare. I want to help athletes better themselves and be the best they can be. I want it all, and I’m determined to get it.

This week I completed my interning hours and finished my last university course. 1200 hours plus some in clinic and field on top of 4 years in University, all leading up to this fall’s exams. I have an excellent support system behind me, and an every better vision for who I want to become. I think it’s a question every aspiring AT should ask themselves… what kind of therapist do I want to be? The way to finding the answer takes blood (usually other’s), sweat and tears.. but as any journey often is.. it’s worth it. Here’s to the next step in this adventure!

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Phases

In the past week, in an attempt to make up for some of the fun (spending) I had while on holidays, I’ve worked close to 90hrs. Luckily most of those hours were spent at horse shows as the medical coverage. A world I’m very used to.

While it was very nice to catch up with some of the regular crowd and observe the sport I’ve been a part of for so long, it also gave me lots of thinking time. While I worked away at my CV, reflected on internship hours and progress of my own business, I recognised that everything comes and goes in phases.

I’ve learned many things since venturing into developing my own professional image and business, which is bound to happen when you go into such a venture with zero business experience or training. I’m pretty good at learning on the fly, but I also battle impatience with progress as I go.

A year ago at this time I was making the tough, but necessary, decision to step back from competing. It wasn’t even a tough decision in the fact that it was so clear what I needed to do for both myself and my horse. And I don’t regret any part of it. However, it did change my lifestyle quite a bit.

After a stressful first last semester at University, and a rough growing period through the early winter I stumbled into learning how to focus my energies on bettering myself, practicing gratitude, and figuring out where I stood now that I didn’t quite have the routine of spring and summer training to look forward to. While I haven’t ever really gone through a huge longing to find horses to ride and train on lately, I realized that I have struggled with finding a hobby that really keeps me motivated since last summer. I became quite regular with yoga through the winter, but as spring came and I got busy with business and new clients I phased that practice out (temporarily of course). Then came going on holidays, and returning was a stark reality of something all of those who are self-employed and newly started will likely get… all the leads on clients I’d had before I left had moved onto other things, gone to the lake, or lost interest.

Not a big deal as I am not solely self-employed, but a realization that I’d entered a quiet period. For MB, July-August are always quiet in most areas as people take off for the lake or other things. And since I’m now in crunch time to finish up internship hours, it’s almost a good thing I don’t have too many new consults on the go. However, impatience always sets in when I realize the phase I’m in doesn’t match up with where my head is ready to be.

Slowly but surely I am getting clients back onto a regular schedule, and restarting my regular marketing. Nobody ever tells you how easy it is to poor endless energy into your creation, and not see much return. I would be lying if I said I haven’t had a few freak outs the last month or so. With all the little stressors that come along with starting something new and out of the box, plus beginning to study for the certifcation exams this November, AND working three part-time jobs to support those things and live in general I’ve found a love for days where I’m not required to be somewhere.

Before this Spring I was the type that needed to be busy all the time, and usually was. Then I got hit with Mono, and while I got over the worst of the symptoms within a month.. my threshold for stress and energy output is still recovering. I’m sure there are other factors feeding into the decreased energy, but every once in a while I have a week or two where I’m visibly lacking in vim and vigor.

Luckily this weekend I have entirely off, and off is exactly what I plan on being. Fitting in a few social calls is all I have planned and am thoroughly enjoying it. I’ll take every chance I get to recoup and re-organize! It’s probably a good thing I don’t have heading back to school in the fall to look forward too, I’m not sure if I am ready to add in a full semester to all the other things I have going on. Certification with be just enough for me, thanks!

Coming up for the rest of this month I continue as the medic for a few hunter jumper shows, get a study schedule in order, and continue working on improving my own health and energy levels. Since this weekend isn’t crazy I chose it to try out a juice fast. 48hrs in of just juicing fresh fruits and veggies, eating only watermelon, fresh made vegetable soup/broth, pineapple, drinking cranberry juice and apple cider vinegar, and lots of water and herbal teas.. I’m already feeling revived. Although I also slept half the day today, that may be part of it as well. With the mono my immune system also took a good hit, so I’m rebuilding my energy, immune, and digestive systems back up slowly but surely.

As students head back to school this fall, so will I to practice and study the last four years of my education. With my three-part certification coming up in November, I’m getting back into that headspace. It’s actually a challenge to start studying things that you know, but haven’t studied for in quite a while. I’m tentatively booked for a few more clinics this fall, returning to places I worked with in the Spring. Another thing I”m looking forward to; seeing how riders were able to use the tools I gave them months ago (and seeing if they did use them at all), and giving them some more.

The Heels Down Conundrum

Originally posted on Katmah Training:

From they day we start riding we were told to get our heels down as far as we can. Keeping the heels down and the toes up is a common thing to want to instil into a new rider, mainly for safety reasons. Us riders spend most of our time functioning off of the ball of our foot in the stirrup. Though it’s common to see even the most advanced riders jamming their heels down and keeping them that way. The forced rigidity in keeping the heels down this way is not necessarily a benefit to us in the tack (or in the rest of life).

Lets start with a brief anatomy lesson.

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There is a whole bunch of stuff in the foot and ankle, but the joint we want to focus on today is the “subtalar joint” which is the joint that moves the foot/ankle into “dorsiflexion” (heels down) and…

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Summer loving

Well as usual I’ve been too busy living life to sit down and write about living life!

Spring flew by and with it I finished up helping teach First Responder and almost immediately got on a plane with my guy and flew to the east coast for a much needed holiday. After a week in and around Halifax, Nova Scotia, and PEI we headed to Boston and spent the rest of our time perusing Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and even made it to New York City. Conveniently we ended up with a red convertible Camaro for the entire three weeks, and came back still liking each other after spending close to a month travelling together. Truthfully, I wouldn’t have wanted to go with anyone else. Even after coming back to a very sad looking bank account, it was agreed that no money is ever wasted on travel and experience.

Times Square

We covered all the typical things.. seeing the tattoo in Halifax, visiting Lunenberg, Peggy’s Cove (where we had an amazing picnic), Anne of Green Gables in PEI, Boston for July 4th, the Cheers bar, the Newport Mansions (my favourite), Times Square, taking the subway (interesting stories stemmed from that), seeing a Burlesque show, seeing a Broadway show, going to Harvard and Columbia, walking around Manhatten until all hours… finding some amazing food at all hours in NYC.. etc, etc. I even dragged us to a hunter jumper show in Massachusetts..because it wouldn’t be a holiday with me without something horsey.

Breakers

NYC

This trip really affirmed for me that there will be a lot of travel in the next year or so for me. I really noticed throughout how unattached I was to Winnipeg as “home”. I found myself travelling with the person I tend to want to spend most of my time with at home, and able to communicate with my other loved ones quite easily throughout the trip. Today’s technology does have it’s perks. Coming back to Winnipeg was both a comfortable constant and now more then blatantly unchanging. This little expedition kick started my drive for more.

Good thing I’ve already been planning!

The rest of my summer consists of getting myself back into shape. After 3 weeks of brewery tours, beer tasting, and lots of good food… I’m in need of a little self-bootcamp. I’ve gone back to a clean diet, 80% free of white/processed starches and full of fresh vegetables, fruits, and lean protein. I’ve made a goal to only shop at farmer’s markets for the rest of the summer and fall. One thing we have lots of here.

The next week or so I’m busy working medical for the hunter jumper shows in the city… very odd to be not showing, but nice to still be involved. I have just over 100hrs left of interning to do in field and clinic, and plan to be finishing up those internships by September. August will bring the start of the studying process for the CATA exam in November. I came home from our trip and started a new position at a medical supply company doing sales, brace fitting, and promotions. It’s still a very new position, and coming from minimal experience in sales or retail I’m excited to develop some new skills in a relevant setting to my training.

Developing “Katmah Training” has been an ongoing process. I am forever learning promotional techniques and management styles as I try and grow my client base. July-August in Manitoba is hard as everyone is either in full competition mode or away at the lake, but I’ve continued writing for Heels Down and continue to get my name out in other ways. Being a familiar face on the circuit as the medical response I hope will help as well. I’ve also begun offering online consults, training, and video/photo assessments as a way to work with people who are out of town, province or country. This will come in handy I think in the next year or so.

In May I was honoured to receive CATA’s Student Leadership Award, which was a nice way to end my school year. This is an award voted on by my University and recognised by the national athletic therapy association. It was presented at the national conference in Halifax, conveniently three weeks before I was there on holidays.

Amongst studying, working, and mentally preparing for CATA, my to-do list also includes preparing CVs and emails to send to potential Graduate programs. I have two in mind that I’d like to approach, and am leaning towards starting next fall or winter. Seeing as I’m already missing the “back to school” feeling… might as well use that mentality while it lasts!

I think that’s all my news for the moment… maybe I’ll come up with something more interesting to write about soon! Enjoy the heat everyone!

Fireworks

From the Top Down: Upper Body Stability for the Rider

Originally posted on Katmah Training:

Many riders struggle with poor shoulder posture; often this is from both habit and from muscle weaknesses/amnesia in the upper back. If you find that you tend to use movements at the elbow to pull back or have trouble balancing during transitions (and as a result tend to pull on the horse’s mouth instead) instead of using steady resistance (as discussed in Aspire Equestrian’s article here) and slight hand/finger motion to accomplish a smoother (in look and feel) transition– you are likely not activating the lats the way you should. Similarily, if you experience trouble maintaining a strong shoulder and upper back posture, and/or experience pain in between the shoulders, neck, and upper back.. you likely have forgotten how to use the rhomboids, traps, and lats properly.

Don’t fret! It’s a common problem with a simple fix for anyone willing to work at it!

EMGbackMuscle

The latissimus dorsi runs from the…

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Revival

We’re always given what we need.. isn’t that the way things shake out?

The last week or so I struggled a bit with my old friend impatience. After a busy couple months of seeing and experiencing my business and professional image develop and blossom seemingly non-stop, things stayed consistent. Consistently great I have to say. April and May I was booked every weekend here or there doing clinics and work shops for facilities, and busy with one on one clients outside of my other shift work. As invigorating as it was seeing all that growth, when things get consistent.. I start to get bored. Not in a bad way, but the impatience crept in again. My mind had time to start craving the next step. More. Always more.

This is a staple of my personality. I live for constant improvement, learning, and change.

This past long weekend (conveniently the first show weekend of the outdoor season here too), I found myself with 4 solid days off. Off shift work. Off clients. Off teaching. It was great. I got to spend time with the guy and old friends. I got to sleep until 1pm two days in a row and not be bothered about it. It provided the perfect opportunity for me to start thinking about what I wasn’t doing yet. There is always a “yet”. Come the start of the regular week, I was full on craving for new and exciting things. Feeling already bored with what I had just started.

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Luckily, I’ve done a fair amount of personal development this year so far.. and I recognised this in myself. While acknowledging the impatience didn’t make it disappear, it did calm the fire slightly. I realise now looking back that sometimes my cases of burn-out were probably self-induced cases of letting the impatience and unending desire for more right now take over. Patience, gratitude, reflection have been my themes this year… and they are fantastic lessons to bring into motion for preventing that desire from turning into an unquenchable agitation with the pace of the Universe.

On Tuesday I all of a sudden had the drive to plant some plants. Which, if you know me, is soooooooo out of the norm. But, since I’m learning more and more to trust my intuition.. I went out and bought some little things, a bag of soil, and some cute containers. I came home, got my hands dirty, and planted some mint, rosemary, and a series of succulents. I’ve always had a thing for succulents. Probably because I know I can’t kill them easily.

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The simple act of planting those plants immediately settled me. I found myself sitting on the floor of my parking garage slowly designing where I wanted my succulents sitting and centring everything in each container.

The next day after a a great workout, and then a long afternoon of tutoring anatomy, I headed out to meet and work with one of my long time clients on her horse. I’ve been so in depth with my consulting work with riders and loving it that I haven’t A) had time to miss my own riding or B) thought that I did miss it. I ride Felix here and there, but the deep seated drive for my own riding hasn’t been around lately and I haven’t been worried about that. If I’ve missed anything lately it’s been the time spent with Lauren and Megg at the barn chatting and riding together. I do honestly miss the feeling of community there was at M&C’s barn with those ladies. While we three stay in touch, Megg is off pursuing her dreams in France and soon UC Berkeley for a PHd. and Lauren is as busy as I am most of the time. When I got to my client’s barn I got that same sense of community, and while watching and working with her on her horse, and the others around riding, I rediscovered the challenge and passion for my consulting work that I thought I was losing the last few weeks. I got my edge back for my work. I also felt a stirring of the riding bug deep down. I met a horse at that facility that stole my heart a little.. and it awakened the desire to get on. I came home from that evening feeling so revived and fulfilled.

My hard working client and Moe.

As I’m assisting a long time prof with First Responder again this year, I am getting the chance to continue my ongoing review of AT coursework preparing for November’s Certification exams. On Tuesday I was informed that I’d be teaching Thursday’s lecture/lab on boarding and wound care.. as well as reviewing a quiz the class had written, solo as the prof was away… It was a ohhhhkay here we go moment for me. The class came and I got my way through teaching boarding techniques just fine.. but it’s the first time I’ve gotten to lead a class alone and been the sole one responsible for their education. It was quite the experience and definitely reaffirmed not only my own abilities but my desire to be in this field. Just when I was starting to get anxious and impatient. Just in time.

Today I noticed my succulents had grown new bits (blooms? extensions? pods?). It was the perfect symbolism for how I feel after the last couple days. There is always growth and new things happening.. just not always so drastic as to be seen by the impatient eye. It’s sometimes enough just to slow down enough to listen to all those little worries, anxieties, and impatient thoughts zooming around… sometimes if you listen you’ll be provided with a solution to those feelings. Maybe it’s planting some plants. Maybe it’s cleaning and organising your apartment. Maybe it’s reaching out and touching base with some old friends. We are always provided with the tools.. often not easily noticed tools or solutions.. but life always gets us where we need to be at just the right time.

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Quick update

It’s been another busy few weeks. With this being the first spring term in a few years I’m not taking courses, I obviously decided to TA one. Outside of that and a few tutoring clients, Katmah Training has been keeping me hopping. Most weekends this month have been booked with clinics and workshops at various barns, and during the week I split my time between one on one clients and working for the same real estate agent I worked for last summer- right now football also gets thrown into the mix every afternoon. Looking forward I’ve been booking into June and July for clinics already, and I’ve signed on to be medical coverage for the MHJA shows through the summer. Just when I thought I was taking a break from the show circuit!

This week football spring training ends with a grand finale where we travel to Yorkton, SK for a few exhibition games. This will be my first time travelling with a team, and I’m glad it’s with a team I’m very established with.

After that I’m looking forward to a full weekend off. Actually. I strategically have been refusing to book anything for this weekend that is work related or business related. It’ll be my one weekend off in quite a while, and for quite a while. While I absolutely love all the teaching and educating I”m getting to do with my business, it is absolutely exhausting. This weekend of nothing important is all I’m looking forward to right now!

In other fun news, I did a interview for Athletic Therapy Connection recently and the podcast has come out. Click here to check it out!  In it I talk about my experiences at UWinnipeg, my perspectives on AT and all my hopes and dreams (or just the Rebuilding the Equestrian project).

Read the Crowd

The time is nearing. A time I thought would never get here. I’ve finished off my last true semester as an Undergrad, and with only a few hours left in my final practicum I’m getting so close to officially finishing my BSc.

The last month or so has been filled with promoting myself, being invited to and running workshops and clinics for riders, working with individual clients, doing some seminars for myself, and basically not acting like a student anymore.

I’ve been loving every second of it. My skills grow leaps and bounds with every client I work with. Promoting myself is even getting easier, and as my name gets out there more and more, I have to do less self-promotion and more just honing in on what each client wants/needs.

A few things in the last while have popped up for me when it comes to stepping into the “real world”. University does a great job not babysitting students (hopefully, anyway), bolstering and encouraging the transition from high school to more the “real world”.. it does still provide a very comfortable student friendly environment. Throughout my degree, while I was challenged in so many ways and grew both my academic ability as well as a person.. being an individual without the label of “student’ offers a whole new realm of challenges.

I’ve mentioned before the intimidation of growing your own business as a young professional, which I am still over-coming to a certain extent. As I prepare to step out with now official letters behind my name.. it’s both excitement and terror. My comfort zone is ending come September, where it’ll be the first fall of not returning to courses like I’ve been doing for the last 18 or so years. The impending certification exams in November are of little comfort.

As my student association’s co-pres, I’ve been busy the last bit planning our annual grad dinner. With it approaching fast this Friday, it’s been crunch time. And as I work on my speech, I find myself thinking not so much about all the facts and textbook science I’ve absorbed over the last 4-5years, but more of the characteristics I’ve developed. Starting the degree to where I am now, I can safely say I’ve surprised myself every step of the way. While doing a presentation this past weekend for the MB Podiatry Association on posture and preventative exercise– I found myself thinking about how growing up and becoming a professional has a lot to do with reading the crowd, and yourself, and reacting appropriately.

As a student, you generally have quite a few guidelines to follow as your progress along the degree pathway. Yes, University does an excellent job of teaching critical thinking skills- but it doesn’t completely leave you on your own with most things. From assignment rubrics, prof expectations, and formats to follow- you know what lines to stay within to succeed. Not much about real life is like that. Yes, there are certain things that are clearly the correct way to take- but for the most part, especially in my business, I have found myself bending and adapting to where my clients are at, and what they want/need. Every client is going to be slightly different, and react differently to everything you throw at them. This skill is especially valuable when standing in a room with a bunch of podiatrists at 3pm when they are all half asleep… knowing when to change your presentations tactics to a more movement and interactive based presentation is key!

Looking at where I was 5 years ago as I graduated high-school, I feel many of the same feelings. Apprehension of the transition, excitement, naivety, dread, gratitude for making it… But I also feel much more prepared to step out into the world. Also much more excited. Leaving the cocoon of high-school and leaving the tree of University are much different things in some ways. I am leaving undergrad life with practical experience and direction towards my ambitions, but also the self-awareness ability to read myself as I progress into my future one day at a time. As you know if you’ve been a follower of this blog, impatience is one of my strong traits- especially when it comes to my own future. I find myself now seeing how all those little “one day at a time” lessons add up to create the present, the future I once desired.. even when I didn’t know what I was headed towards. This doesn’t make me any less impatient, but sometimes I think the impatience is what drives me forwards.

With all that being said, I gotta get back to my grad speech! Until next time!

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Why hours in the saddle isn’t enough

Originally posted on Katmah Training:

The way we train riders (and consequently horses) needs to change.

Having had experience in the horse world, and the strength training and conditioning world- it’s becoming clear to me why some riders become great, and others reach a plateau and don’t progress past a certain point.

In my experience, the level of a rider is often based on experience levels and results. Obviously, in any athletic endeavour (when one is competing anyway), consistent results prove who has got it and who doesn’t. So.. how do many coaches and riders choose to train potential winners? By having them ride as much as possible, schooling a variety of scenarios (on a variety of horses) to train performance. High level riders often also end up training or riding horses to aid in making a living, to further their skills, or just for the pure joy of it. All this builds experience and gives us…

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Highlights from Hi Point Horsemanship

Katmah:

See the attached post for some highlights from the clinic I was apart of this weekend.

The entire time I found myself spewing out words and ideas that I honestly didn’t know were even in my head. Coaching riders through their postural issues came more naturally then breath for me it seemed- and even though this was the first official clinic I’ve done.. it felt like something I’d done many times before. From the first rider onto the last I learned so much, and as you’ll see in the post built some valuable skills for future events just like this. Sometimes it really hits me how far I’ve progressed personally from even a year ago to now. While I was getting these ideas rolling a year ago, I wouldn’t have been ready to do something like I did yesterday. The things I learned through my Rebuilding thesis and working with clients through that and just in the clinic and on the field as a therapist have joined to make a wonderful partnership with my experiences as a rider myself. I am really excited to see how all these things keep building!

Originally posted on Katmah Training:

This weekend I was lucky enough to do a clinic at Hi Point Horsemanship for the Western Dressage Assoc. From the first minute on I was met with pure enthusiasm and focused attention on my words on biomechanics, posture, and my rebuilding the equestrian project. As someone who is new to being a clinician/speaker.. it still amazes me sometimes how word of new ideas travels fast, and how dedicated the athletes in our sport are to bettering themselves however they can. I didn’t give myself too many guidelines to follow for this event, as it was the first time I’d worked with this many people in a day and I wanted to let the experience guide me a little. After giving a short lecture on the basics of chronic pain, posture, biomechanics and the rider (similar to what I did earlier this month for the Dressage Assoc.), I demonstrated the…

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