As most know, starting university can be an absolute whirlwind, as terrifying as it is exciting. For me, choosing La Trobe meant leaving much of my support network behind and venturing out alone, into unchartered waters. It wasn’t until my first orientation that I began to feel confident that I had indeed made the right choice and that Physiotherapy was the right fit for me. Up until then, I had never been entirely sure which career path I would pursue. One thing I was sure of was that I had a passion for health and helping people as well as a keen interest in sport and fitness. Taking all that into account, a future as a physiotherapist seemed like a good idea.
Those first few classes opened my eyes to a whole new world of neuro physiotherapy and cardiorespiratory physiotherapy. As someone who’d come into the course expecting it to be all about muscles, it was refreshing to be introduced to an array of other components, each vital to the way the human body operates.
Having said this, my first real taste of physiotherapy exposure came from volunteering at an event called Stadium Stompwith the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA). Despite having such limited experience and no exposure to actual massage techniques, I decided to dive in head first and get involved.
Stadium Stomp is an event that encourages participants to challenge themselves by attempting to tackle every step in the MCG within the space of a few hours. For some, this is a relatively simple task. For others, it can take a huge toll on their bodies. As a volunteer, my role on the day was to massage the calves of people who came in, spending about 5 mins on each person. Being so new to the world of Physio, this task was a little daunting at first. However, as I finished working on my first stomp client I was delighted to hear that, in spite of my lack of experience, my thumbs were ‘magic’.
That simple compliment boosted my confidence and before I knew it, I’d been working for 2 hours. It wasn’t until I finally took a break that I realised how exhausted I was. I knew that when I went back in, I would have to come up with some new methods of massage to spare my thumbs from disfigurement. This was an important learning curve as it allowed me the chance to experiment and work out which methods were best for me. It was also at this point that I got to talking with one of the professional physiotherapists who gave me other tips on the types of movements I could be doing to avoid fatigue.
Overall, it was a really great day and one I feel lucky to have been a part of. It was so exciting to observe trained physiotherapists up close and pick their brains about what they do on a daily basis
It was the first chance I have had to do something hands on and use the few skills I had acquired. I learnt so much from observing and talking to everyone and it is definitely something I would love to repeat in the coming years.
I would certainly advise anyone who gets the opportunity to volunteer in something like this to jump in, regardless of how ill-equipped you might feel. The skills you’ll gain from the experience will definitely be worth it!