Back Pain/ Supports

“The patient’s involvement is extremely important”

Supports in physiotherapy

From Bauerfeind Life Magazin

In short Pablo Schmitz is a trained physical therapist focusing on sports physiotherapy and manual therapy.

  • Before treating back pain, physical therapist Pablo Schmitz from Mainz gets to know his patients by feeling their back and identifying areas of tension. “I mostly rely on my hands here," says the 30-year-old.
  • Pablo Schmitz’ experience shows: Back supports provide support and stability, even when performing exercises, and help patients return faster to their everyday routines.
  • 20 minutes of physiotherapy twice a week are not enough to become pain free and regain full mobility, says the former elite athlete who also works with athletes from the Olympic team: “That's why I give my patients exercises to do at home and recommend them the Bauerfeind Training App for.”

Physiotherapy is well established in the interdisciplinary treatment of back pain. Pablo Schmitz also uses supports – and recommends Bauerfeind’s Training App to his patients so they can work out at home.

“I notice it immediately, if patients have not done their exercises at home.” But Pablo Schmitz, physical therapist, sticks to his guns. It is not enough to do 20 minutes of physiotherapy twice a week as part of multi-modal back treatment. That is why the 30-year-old shows his patients two or three new exercises during every appointment, which they can do at home. Bauerfeind’s Training App is also part of his recommendations (see below). “It’s a great product,” says Pablo Schmitz, praising the app which he is helping to develop.

Whether his patients train with or without a back support depends on the stage of the recovery process, among other things. The advantage: “supports provide a feeling of confidence and stability, and they counteract unfavorable movement patterns,” explains Pablo Schmitz, who has had particularly good experiences with the LumboTrain. In his opinion, the notion that its use leads to muscle atrophy is untrue. This has also been proven by Bauerfeind studies1. “Patients actually benefit from a support, even during sports. They help during exercise in particular, when the muscles are activated.” Supports help patients return to their daily lives more quickly or to cope with everyday tasks more easily, he is convinced of that.

Pablo Schmitz is a trained physical therapist focusing on sports physiotherapy and manual therapy. He is also a member of the team of physical therapists for the German men’s national baseball team at the Mainz site of the German Olympic Sports Association (DOSB).

Looking at the whole patient

That means his patients actually bring their supports when they come to “Physiobility”, Pablo Schmitz’ workplace, situated in a picturesque rear courtyard in the labyrinthine old town of Mainz, Germany. There, they enter a place that exudes an ambiance of well-being, which must not be underestimated in physiotherapy. The reason being: “The mind is also a part of multi-modal treatment,” reports the physical therapist, who has noticed a significant increase in non-specific back pain, particularly during the COVID pandemic. This can often be ascribed to stress or incorrect posture when working from home. Social isolation and distancing measures also played their part. “It’s really beneficial for many patients in this situation to be cared for in comfortable surroundings – just the feeling that someone is looking after them.” Together with the patients, he checks the fit of the support and correct donning, and, if in doubt, he has a medical supply retailer examine or refit it. Pablo Schmitz feels that it is important and makes sense to communicate with physicians but some aspects could be optimized. On prescriptions, for example, when back problems are diagnosed, doctors only note a generic phrasing, such as low back pain.

“This can have many causes, of course,” he explains, so he always gets his own impression when starting treatment. After all, back pain can also have other reasons, like organ dysfunction for example. “One of my tasks is to look at the patient as a whole,” says Pablo Schmitz, who was born in the Palatinate region and specialized in manual and sports physiotherapy after his professional training. He appreciates the great freedom he has to make decisions, but is also happy to see specific instructions on the prescription. If required, he contacts the physician. However, he trusts his own hands the most: when palpating the back and feeling for muscle imbalances. Might this have to do with the fact that he has only had 30 percent vision since his birth? “I’m not sure, I don’t know it any other way.” When choosing his career, his visual impairment did play a decisive role. The young basketball player chose physiotherapy over performance sports. “I like to shoot hoops in my spare time or go to the gym or play football,” he reports. “But I do take great care of my hands.”

Practice, practice, practice

Lucky for his patients, who he provides with pain alleviation through manual therapy. “Though I don’t have healing hands, of course,” he emphasizes, bearing in mind that he has to motivate some of his patients to work on better compliance. He also recommends that his patients should incorporate gentle exercises into everyday life: when talking on the phone, when the coffee machine is pouring a cup, during the news on TV – from “getting up every now and then for a stretch” and the targeted “homework” he gives his patients, to supplementary exercises with the Bauerfeind App. “I do support patients in becoming pain-free but their own involvement is extremely important.”

The former competitive athlete knows from his own experience what impact self-discipline has on success, even when only taking baby steps. Pablo Schmitz has been a member of the physio team for the German men’s national baseball team for a while. His biggest dream? “Accompanying the team to the Olympic Games.” For this, he had to get a Sports Physiotherapy License by the DOSB (German Olympic Sports Association) and now looks after the Olympic athletes. His next chance will be in Paris in 2024.

Pablo Schmitz recommends Bauerfeind’s Training App to his patients to complement physiotherapy at home.

Digital training for patients

As a medical device, the Bauerfeind Training App provides a customizable exercise program for strengthening the back and other areas of the body. The training program has been developed by experts and can be adapted to changing personal requirements. The individual sessions can be carried out at home in under 30 minutes. Fitness level, degree of pain, Bauerfeind support used – all these aspects are considered in the exercises. A virtual instructor regularly asks how the user is feeling, optimizes the training plan and gives instructions. A pain graph documents the recovery process. The Training App is free and can be used on smartphones and tablet PCs. For further information, please see: www.bauerfeind.de/app

1 Hübner, Anders et al. (on LumboTrain) and Hammer et al. and Büttner, Milani et al. (on SacroLoc).

Images: Bauerfeind, Rainer Kraus, AdobeStock/littlestocker

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