Physical Therapy for Performance: Beyond Rehab Basics

Updated: Dec 30, 2020

I’m thrilled to have guest bloggers Lex (yes, THAT Lex; my superhero assistant) and Kyle from Renegade Movement and Performance write for my website.

I’m a huge fan of physical therapy, but did you know that physical therapy is not just for people who are injured or actively in pain? In this case, a little prevention will pay big dividends, especially in the Fire population!

Lex and Kyle are not just your average physical therapists and finding a therapist whose values and experience match your own is very important. The great news is that in many states, you don’t even need a referral for physical therapy anymore.

Cash/self pay PT will likely cost you less In the long run and will deliver more meaningful outcomes than insurance based PT since the treatment plan isn’t dictated by what your insurance allows AND you’ll get one on one attention from the therapist, not an aid or sometimes even a high school student.

I’m a big fan of both cash based physical therapy and Renegade, so check out what they have to say!

AZ out!

Hey there, we’re Lex and Kyle Brunelle. We own and operate a performance and pelvic health physical therapy clinic in southern New Hampshire called Renegade Movement and Performance. AZ is one of our closest friends and we're so pumped that she asked us to write a blog for her people!

The intent of this blog is to illustrate what performance physical therapy looks, sounds, and feels like. Most individuals may have some experience with physical therapy, whether that was their personal experience attending a course of rehab, or second hand from a friend, family member, or loved one who went to PT.

Unfortunately, something our profession doesn’t do a fantastic job of communicating with the public is that there are subspecialties within PT just like there are for medical doctors. When you experience an issue with your heart, you see a cardiovascular specialist; GI issues may lead you to a gastroenterologist; the common cold might elicit a consultation with your primary care physician. Similarly, within the field of physical therapy there are individuals who specialize in neurological conditions, cardiopulmonary conditions, sports & performance, orthopedic care, pelvic health, oncology, etc. It’s fairly intuitive that you’d want a provider who specializes in your area of primary concern.

Additionally, at Renegade we are an out of network provider. This means that we don’t contract and work directly with insurance providers. Why is this important? Well many folks’ experiences with PT are at an in-network, insurance-based outpatient clinic. The drawback of this is that the entire model of care is dictated by insurance rules and reimbursement structures. Therefore, people perceive PT as this place “broken” people go to get “fixed.” You might be picturing a big clinic with 5-10 providers simultaneously juggling 2-4 patients per provider and being forced to pay half attention to you while trying to direct other patients and PTAs or aides. You might only get 10-15 minutes of direct time with your PT at a place like this and sort of feel like you’re being rushed through a mill or left alone to do your exercises. Do people get better in this model of care? Absolutely. And for some individuals this type of clinic will meet all of their needs. For many others, however, an insurance based clinic will either only scratch the surface of what they need or not be able to serve them entirely.

For those of us who fall into the category of performance athletes, an in-network provider will not be able to give us the attention to detail needed. Are you a performance athlete? Well anyone who’s actively looking to improve their physical performance should be considered a performance athlete. This can range from a middle-aged mother of 4 who just wants to be able to build some strength and be able to continue with their personal training regimen, to a twenty-year-old first responder who trains for iron man competitions and must rely on their physical ability for work as well. As a performance athlete, an insurance based clinic may not even be able to “justify” your care to the insurance provider for coverage because you’re “healthy enough” in the eyes of the insurance provider (insurance, and healthcare in general, is literally a reactive system, rather than proactive). Case in point- having shoulder pain when performing bench presses isn’t typically eligible for coverage by most insurance providers. Is there a goal that’s important to you, but not to your insurance provider?

Even in the absence of injury/pain requiring some form of rehab, individuals may elect to work with a performance physical therapist to work on… PERFORMANCE! Plenty of individuals seek us out to improve their physical performance who are otherwise healthy. How can a PT help with this you ask? Well when an individual works with us we listen to their goals and specific areas of concern in order to determine what things may be of utmost importance to evaluate. Then we examine the individual’s movement with a variety of tests, to include observing the things they’re concerned about and are doing on a regular basis as part of work, training, playing, or daily life. At our clinic, we build in a full hour of one on one direct time with patients in each session so that there’s plenty of time to listen to our patients and thoroughly examine what’s important for and to them. This allows us to identify areas of strength and areas that are in need of improvement. We then work with the individual to develop a plan that helps them optimize these areas so they can achieve their goals while also fitting their lifestyle. We also work with clients virtually for performance training, which we have found to have great results with.

It’s important to work with someone who understands your lifestyle, needs, and goals. As performance athletes ourselves, we get it- physical abilities are important, can change the course of your life, and may literally mean the difference between life and death in some instances. It also plays a large role in who you are in your community. When you can’t do what you love anymore, or are stuck at a performance plateau it can mean loss of self identity and have detrimental effects on your mental health. The good news is that there are providers out there who will understand this because they’ve lived it too and who can help you get back on track to doing what you need to do.

Lastly, a note on independence. This is our aspiration for each and every patient we see. When we work with an individual, every session has a large emphasis on giving that person concepts and tools that will allow them to gain control over their health. At Renegade, we believe our patients are responsible and capable enough to work with these concepts and tools without having to rely on us. This translates into allowing people the time they need to work on things and sometimes planning for several weeks between appointments to allow for such independence. With that being said, our model also affords patients the support they may want and we make ourselves available for questions and feedback as needed.

In summary, we’d recommend finding a physical therapist who:

  • Understands and shares your values and goals

  • Works in a care model that allows them to give you the attention you deserve

  • Specializes in the area of your primary concern

  • Fosters independence so that you won’t need them indefinitely

Interested in working with Renegade Movement and Performance? We have both in person and online options and would love to meet you!

1. Our 3-month Renegade Reformation program is open for enrollment until December 31st! Get more information here! We're closing enrollment until April, so get in while you can if you're interested.

Here's some details about what the program offers:

✅Personalized coaching, programming specific for your needs (are you a basketball player who wants to jump higher? Someone who just wants to get active? This program will be made for YOU!)

✅Online and in-person options available

✅Done-for-you programming

✅Scaling options and feedback to ensure that you have GREAT form for every exercise

✅Fit to the equipment you have access to

✅Workouts made for time you have

✅3 months of progressive programming to help you keep the needle moving forward

✅Access to US! Ask us questions, tell us how you feel each day, etc. This is about YOU!

2. We also offer free consultations so you can explore your options and feel out the fit with no commitment required. You can email us to schedule!

If you have questions for us, we'd love to hear from you! We're also super active on Instagram, so if you want to hear more from us, please follow us!

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