As a chiropractor, soft tissue practitioner, and student of movement, assessments are the foundation of my practice. The moment a patient or client walks into my office, the process begins; assessing and gathering the data and information to create a treatment plan that best suits the needs and wants of my patients.
Recently, during a conversation with a colleague of mine, it was brought to my attention the emphasis I place on assessments. Initially, I was caught off guard. School, post-graduate education taught me that establishing a baseline and assessing using the skills we have acquired is an integral starting point for patients and clients in all settings. How do you know something is working, if we don’t know where we started? Assessments allow us to establish a baseline, check progress, know if something is working, and change it if it isn’t. Assessments can also alert us of danger or “red flags” and can help us determine the course of action that is a priority for that client or patient. Most of us want to help with the tools that we have, but if we are able to determine that some things are beyond our scope, we must do what’s best for the client/patient in that situation and refer them out.
Besides establishing a baseline and helping us understand the wants and needs of a client/patient, assessments are a form of communication. They allow us to communicate to the client/patient. The majority of patients are coming in the office because they notice symptoms and these symptoms aren’t allowing them to do what they want to do, pain free. It’s crucial to be able to have a language that can help bridge the gap between practitioner and patient; trainer and client. The assessments allow us to communicate to patients or clients the “why.” Why does my back hurt, why am I not hitting my lift? These simple questions from clients and patients can be answered by utilizing a language that we should continue to develop and learn to speak. Assessments are also a language that we can use to communicate between practitioners, trainers, doctors, etc.
Working with Baystate Barbell athletes is simple and easy because of the language we are able to speak to our athletes. Athletes don’t want to have to think, they want their program and want to come in the gym and crush it. It is our job as coaches and practitioners to guide these athletes based on the assessments we perform and their goals. It’s important to be able to speak a language that allows for easy communication between the athletes and coaches. For this, we perform assessments on all new athletes joining our team, educate these athletes in the language that we speak, and bridge the gap between the athlete and coach.
The first set of assessments we perform are soft tissue assessments. These assessments help us determine the health of a joint and the surrounding tissues individually. It’s important to make sure that each individual joint is working properly. Once we establish that we have a healthy range of motion in those individual joints and tissues, we then take a look at functional movements to determine how well those joints and tissues are working together. The functional assessments also allow us to determine specific deficits and imbalances that an athlete may have. Based on the training goals of that client, we can then begin to test energy systems in the body and determine the priority for that athlete and begin building those systems over time. Once we establish a baseline, we continue to use these assessments to track the progress and evolution over time.