In the first of a series of interviews with our 2019 FHT Training Congress expert speakers, we spoke to Jane Johnson about portfolio work, writing, research and rocks.
Q. Tell us a bit of background about yourself…
I’m a physiotherapist, with a ‘portfolio’ job, which is a posh way of saying that I work in more than one capacity:
- I run The Friendly Physio, a free Facebook group with the aim of inspiring therapists with tips, tricks, stories and video tutorials.
- I write books: Postural Assessment, Postural Correction, Therapeutic Stretching, Deep Tissue Massage, Soft Tissue and Trigger Point Release, and The Big Back Book: Tips & Tricks for Therapists. With a colleague, Cameron Reid, I’m currently writing How To Treat Knee Pain.
- In the capacity of Physiotherapy Expert Witness, I give evidence in court and in the form of written reports for cases involving massage and physiotherapy.
- I’m in my final year studying for a PhD. I’ve been funded by the Royal College of Chiropractors and Teesside University to develop a postural assessment app for use by chiropractors treating clients with back or neck pain.
- I teach workshops and deliver seminars both in the UK and abroad. I also deliver free webinars, including Postural Assessment, Postural Correction, How to Treat Clients with Low Back Pain, and How to Treat Clients With Neck Pain.
- And of course, I work as a physio! I’m a musculoskeletal physiotherapist and specialize in occupational health. This means assessing and treating patients just as any other musculoskeletal physio, but in addition, advising their employer how to help keep that person in work (or help get them back to work) if they have an injury, are recovering from an operation, or if they have a long-term musculoskeletal condition.
I began as a fitness instructor, then trained in Swedish massage, then gravitated to sports injuries and sports massage, and eventually physiotherapy.
Q. Give us an insight into your normal day-to-day schedule…
With a portfolio job my days are never the same. Any week I might be:
- answering questions from therapists in The Friendly Physio group.
- carrying out a locum physiotherapy job, assessing and treating patients, writing reports for employers.
- at the airport, waiting to board a plane to China or Taiwan to teach a course there.
- working on a chapter of my PhD thesis.
- on a train to a UK venue to teach an FHT workshop.
- speaking to patients on the telephone, delivering telephone consultations for a physiotherapy firm.
- working on the manuscript of a book I’m writing.
- working on the submission of a book I’m hoping to get a contract to write!
- putting together a webinar or seminar or workshop materials.
- reading thousands of pages of patient notes and writing the report with my opinion as an expert witness.
- attending training courses to develop my own learning.
I have a huge, double-sided whiteboard on wheels in my office so I can keep track of what I’m doing. Every night I write out what I need to do the next day so that I know where I’m going, whether I’m supposed to be on site doing a physio job or buying foreign currency for a job abroad.
Q. What interests you outside of work?
Having a portfolio job means I have to take time out to rest and refresh myself.
I get a lot of massage, wherever I am, whenever I can, whether it’s a quick 15-minute chair massage or Indian head massage in an airport, or a 2.5-hour Thai yoga massage in town.
I keep a sketchbook. I started 4 years ago and now I’ve got 43! I visit a lot of museums, one of my passions, and I sketch everything and anything. I love sketching rocks because even when they go horribly wrong, they still look like rocks.
I walk my dog every day when I’m at home. He’s the last of my rescue dogs, a massive staffie who isn’t called Chunky for nothing.
I do yoga. I’m currently doing a 30-day beginners yoga challenge.
Q. What is your Training Congress seminar about?
I’m doing two—Posture: does it matter, and can it be corrected? and Trigger points for beginners.
Q. What is it about your topics that appeals to you and why are they useful for therapists?
In my clinical experience, there is a relationship between posture and pain. I love demonstrating simple postural correction techniques that any therapist can teach their clients. Similarly, I’ve found that deactivation of trigger points helps reduce pain and sensations of tension in muscles and helps increase range of movement. I like helping therapists understand how to identify trigger points and eliminate them. Postural correction and trigger point reduction are skills all therapists can learn, without the need for expensive, additional training.
Q. What will attendees of your seminar expect to come away with?
In the posture seminar attendees will be asked whether they have ever treated clients with round shoulders or heard about ‘text neck’, ‘forward-head posture’, or seen a client with a ‘bump’ on the back of their neck. They will learn how to identify these postures, as well as pelvic ‘tilting’. This seminar explores some of the controversies surrounding posture and postural correction.
In the trigger point seminar, attendees will be asked if they have heard of the term ‘trigger point’ and wondered what it meant. They will learn the difference between trigger points and ‘knots’ in a muscle, what a trigger point is, what causes them, how to identify them and how to treat them.
Q. Are there any other seminars in the programme which look particularly interesting to you?
Yes, ‘The role of the complementary therapist in the NHS’. As someone who has worked in both the private sector and the NHS, including at the Royal Free Hospital which has had a massage service for many years, with over 70 therapists, I’ve long since supported the integration of complementary therapy within this sector. As we know, research suggests that this is what patients want too. I’m keen to see how this develops over the next five years.
Q. What would be your one piece of advice for therapists wanting to grow and develop their therapy practice?
Make a vision board with images and text reflecting what you want to attract into your practice and keep it somewhere where you can see it every day. You get what you focus on so if your attention is focused on your vision, seeing it on the vision board will help it manifest.
Join us at the 2019 FHT Training Congress from Sunday 19 to Monday 20 May at the Holistic Health Show, NEC Birmingham.
For more details about the talks and to book, visit fht.org.uk/congress
As well as hosting two seminars at the 2019 FHT Training Congress, Jane is offering a free webinar on treating clients with neck pain (Wednesday 27 March at 3-4pm) and is teaching a number of FHT Hosted workshops throughout 2019.
Read an article by Jane Johnson on deactivating trigger points with soft tissue release, published in the Winter 2019 issue of International Therapist.