Investing in your physical health and mobility with John Hawes

CEO of RPM Rehab John Hawes shares the wealth of knowledge he’s earned from more than 30 years in the physical rehabilitation industry — and the value he sees in taking care of your body today.

With decades of experience in medical rehabilitation services, John Hawes has witnessed the magic of physical therapy at work. Years ago, the CEO of RPM Rehab challenged himself to learn everything he could about healthcare in order to make the most impact.

“I read every article, I read every journal, I listened to every smart person I could find to talk with. And I actively sought out conversations with people to engage in this conversation on what’s going on,” said Hawes. 

In this episode of RPM Rehab, Hawes shares what he learned with us and introduces the wide range of potential that lies in physical therapy and prioritizing your physical health and mobility.

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The scope of treatment

In the waiting room of a physical therapy clinic, you see people of all ages and all walks of life. That’s because we all share a common concern: taking care of our bodies.

“Rehab professionals, especially physical therapists, work with a full range of patients from newborns and infants all the way up to the very elderly,” said Hawes.

And, although you may think correcting something as common as lower back pain is simple, Hawes says that oftentimes there’s a wide range of potential problems that could be the source of pain.

“There are a lot of very, very complex conditions and situations that people can present — with complex pain conditions, complex changes to the skeletal structure, complex issues of muscle deterioration and just a lot of different things that can affect movement and how we function.”

Our bodies are nuanced in how they operate and how they heal. Hawes says even the slightest injuries can impact a whole range of muscle movements without us noticing.

“Your quads are a little sore, so when you walk you change the way you walk a little bit and that puts stress on some other part of the body,” said Hawes. “And that’s what rehab professionals work on.”

A preventative tool

One of the common misconceptions about physical therapy is that it’s only used as a way to repair damage done by injury or disease. But Hawes says it can also serve as a way to check-in on your physical health. 

In fact, Hawes has observed a shift in the industry: more and more people are coming into physical therapy to prevent future problems.

“This transformation in the healthcare industry is moving from caring for things when something’s wrong to preserving and building on and figuring out how to invest and develop and optimize each of those personal health assets that we have.”

These check-ins on the functionality of our bodies can be vital in maintaining our mobility and avoiding injury. 

“Functional assessments are used to identify what’s working well, what’s not working well, what do we need to focus on to develop in strength, or where do we need to increase flexibility, or what part of the body do we need to work on improved mobility.”

It can also be used as a means to better prepare for an athletic challenge. So if you’re planning to run a marathon, you can consult a physical therapist on how to prepare that goes beyond athletic training alone.

“What’s sort of the optimal way for you to train? What’s the optimal way for you to build endurance? For you to build strength? To balance that with flexibility, cardiac control, respiratory control, with relaxation, with getting enough rest, with nutrition?”

Protecting your mobility

After years in rehabilitation services, Hawes has learned that one of the most important things people can do for themselves is to prioritize care for their health.

”The greatest asset that each of us will ever have is our health and our wellbeing,” said Hawes. “And that’s very complex: what makes us healthy, what’s involved in maintaining our health.”

Hawes coins this as protecting your ‘personal health assets’. He says you should view things like joint health, cardiac health and levels of strength and mobility as something to continually devote time in. 

“You take steps to protect your 401K or your investments, to protect your house, to invest and develop it,” said Hawes. “You need to invest in and protect your personal health assets as well.”

To learn more about this show, follow this podcast wherever you listen to your audio content. And join in the conversation by visiting us online at rpmrehab.com/podcast.