Happy New Year!

Welcome to 2020! That sounds like a futuristic year to me, not actually the present date – this is hard to believe! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season, whether it was filled with family, friends and parties or was quiet, relaxing and peaceful. Welcome to January, often a time to reflect on years past and look ahead with new aspirations or plans. 

With that in mind, I thought it would be a good opportunity to talk about goals. What are goals, why do we set them and how does physiotherapy play a role? 

Goal setting is based on the belief that people can change their behavior and will work towards a goal.  A meaningful goal can motivate a person to participate in activities or change their behavior in order to achieve that goal.  According to human psychologist Abraham Maslow, our actions are motivated in order to achieve certain needs. He developed a five-tiered hierarchy of needs based on what makes people happy and what they will do in order to achieve those needs. The most basic physiological needs are one’s primary goals – breathing, food, water, sleep. Once those goals are met, one moves towards safety and security. As the hierarchy reaches more complex needs such as love and self-actualization, the goals become more social and personal.  When we set goals, it is advised to make them SMART goals – Specific, Meaningful, Attainable, Realistic and Time oriented. “A goal without a measurable outcome is like a sports competition without a scoreboard” (North Carolina Office of State Human Resources)!

The goal of physiotherapy is to improve mobility and strength, to relieve pain and to restore physical function. This enables you to resume your regular activities of daily living (ADLs) including work, school, recreational activities and personal care.  Physiotherapists help people affected by injury, illness or disability through movement, exercise, manual therapy, and education. They help to maintain health for people of all ages, helping patients to manage pain and prevent disease. 

For some patients, the goal may be a complete recovery with full, unrestricted function. For others, it may be to recover the ability to do as many ADLs as possible. The goals set during rehabilitation depend on the nature of the injury and the patient’s motivation. It is important to set goals during the course of rehabilitation because it can provide a patient with motivation.  Meaningful goals agreed upon by patient and therapist can motivate a patient to participate in their recovery throughout the various stages of healing. This may be to have one’s pain level decrease from an 8/10 to a 3/10, or to improve knee flexibility from 70 degrees to 110 degrees. It may be to run a 10km running race by a certain date or progress from using a cane to no walking aid.  Goal setting is an important aspect of physiotherapy in order to make the recovery process focused, meaningful and relevant to your stage of healing and ability. 

If you are struggling with an injury or have a fitness goal in mind for the new year ahead, our health care team of physiotherapists, massage therapist and personal trainer would love to help you set some SMART goals and facilitate you in achieving an injury free and active 2020. 

Jennifer Gordon (BScPT, AFCI, GIMS)