Course Review: The Shoulder; Complex Doesn't Have to be Complicated

Last weekend I flew to Brisbane to attend a course run by Adam Meakins. aka The Sports Physio and is very active on social media (here, here and here). I have been following Adam’s blog writings and podcasts for over 3 years and so when I found out he was coming ot Australia, I jumped at the chance to go for his course.

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Now a bit about Adam. Adam is a very polarizing “public figure” on social media. You either like him or you don’t, and he can tend to rub people up the wrong way. I’ve always believed that you can’t judge a course and/or person until you have done it or seen it for yourself and experienced and thought through their reasoning. However, it is easy being a “keyboard warrior”, and I wanted to hear and interact with him for myself.

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Another reason why I wanted to go for the course is that the shoulder is a complex joint with a lot of research around the anatomy, biomechanics and rehabilitation of it. There is still a lot of research and debate around it, and even in Adam’s blogposts, he has made good referencing to various research articles.

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The first part of the course had a lot of information to get through, with a strong focus in taking a good patient history and establishing optimal therapeutic alliance between clinicians and patients, understanding their expectations as too many times we try and “jump in” to try and help clients that we don’t often listen to their full story.

Adam really emphasised on advice and education for patients, then to encourage movement, and then to start loading and increase resistance to look to make patients resilient and robust. He breaks down the diagnoses to a stiff and painful shoulder, a loose and painful shoulder, and a weak and painful shoulder

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I love how he quoted a few review articles of shoulder tests that we had been taught in school, and I’m pretty sure are still being taught in school, that the tests actually do not have very good sensitivity to tell us what “muscles” they are testing. I love how he challenges our current “norm”, that we thought we have been doing/influencing all this while might actually not be what we think we are doing.

I am definitely no research nut, but one thing you definitely can’t fault Adam for is that this was one of the courses where a lot of statements were backed up by evidence, and that’s the beauty of it as we are striving to be more evidenced based in our practice. Every point in his slide was backed up by one or more references.

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Another thing that Adam emphasised was that too many times we try and overcomplicate things by giving patients a variety of different exercises when we could have simplified things and made sure they did it well. He cites an example of just giving a patient 1 exercise and then progressing that exercise, rather than giving a patient a few exercises during one session, and then giving another set of exercises the next.

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I really appreciate Adam’s honesty and his willingness to be open to say that sometimes it’s ok to say that we don’t know. I appreciate how he challenges peoples’ thinking but also embraces uncertainty.

Adam readily mentions that these are what he does now, and that these are his opinions. As with anything, we don’t have to agree with everything he says, but instead that’s why we have our critical thinking caps to reason and evaluate for ourselves.

All in all, it was a good weekend to was nice to put a face to a name (and voice) and meet the man himself in the flesh to hear his thoughts over a few beers. I would definitely recommend anyone who is thinking about going for the course to do it. It is definitely very evidence-based, and it is more than JUST about the shoulder.

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As always, thanks for reading!

Here's a quickfire Q&A we did with Adam