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Jenny Meadows – Life From The Track Part 3

Posted on August 19th, 2016

Part 3 of Jenny Meadows’ interview, gives us an insight on the relationship between an athlete and their physio (and how it is impossible to hide any secrets from them!).

How are we different to other physiotherapists?

Jenny: It’s the experience that both Rob and Jeff bring with them and I think, both being good standards of sports physio as well and obviously working with so many sports people throughout the years. Like the example that Trevor mentioned about the 2004 Olympics (part 1), I had the problem with my knee and Rob at the time said ‘Well I completely know knees, I’ve worked in football for a number of years, believe me I know what a good knee and a bad knee looks like and this is a good knee, there’s no way that the problem could be with the knee.

So I think they both have the ability to think outside the box. The pain was coming from the knee, but they were both like ‘Well, I know how the body works and how you’re standing and how everything looks biomechanically, it will not be the knee.

It took some convincing for me! ‘Well no, I’ve got pain here in my knee

‘It won’t be the knee, believe me, it won’t be the knee’

Alright, okay.’ And then they’d do some tests and say ‘I’m pretty sure it’s because of this and because of the back.’ And then they send you off and a week later, I was completely fine, all the pain had gone in the knee now, so I think they understand the whole dynamics of movement.

And how pain transfers from one end to another

Trevor: Exactly, the number of times Jenny’s limped in to the physios and then danced out, is just crazy. And they had never touched a sore point.

If you go with a sore hamstring to a physiotherapist, then you expect them to rub it for a while and give you some stretches and then you go away thinking it’s fixed; well that’s great, it’s taken care of the pain and the localised problem. Whereas, Rob and Jeff look at it as a bigger picture and they fix what’s causing it ‘Well the reason why your hamstring is tight, is because your glutes are weak on this side and your back is bad here.’

Jenny: It’s a puzzle

Trevor: They’re just better at fixing puzzles

Jenny: And actually, I think they thrive on it. I think the more unusual and complex something is…

They buzz off it

Jenny: They think ‘Right, let’s get this one.’

Let’s get stuck in

Jenny: And they’ve never not solved any of my problems.

I think the difference in them both as well is, definitely that bedside manner, because I think they know, especially with me, athletes can be quite emotional and quite irrational and sometimes we need a psychologist as well. The amount of times I’ve gone in tears and I’ve walked out, telling jokes at the end of the treatment! It’s ridiculous really and I think they also understand. Very, very rarely have they ever told me, ‘You know, you can’t do something, you need to rest.’ They’ve always found a way, they know for instance ‘Well an athlete needs to compete, an athlete needs to run.’

They will get you back on track

Jenny: They will get me being able to do something, where I feel like I’ve achieved something. It’s the worst thing ever, to tell an athlete to rest.

But they’ve told you to do that before?

Jenny: Literally once or twice, and it’s only been ‘Rest today.’ Or ‘Rest tomorrow.’ I’ve had a lot of bad injuries and they’ve gotten me to do numerous amount of things; we’ve worked in the pool, we’ve gone in the gym, I’ve gone on the bike. We’ve always found something I’ve been able to do.

If it’s not running, it’s something else.

Jenny: Definitely, it’s something where I’ve been able to push myself fully and they’ve dealt with the psychological aspect of me as well, which is great.

Because I guess, as an athlete the worst thing you want to do is sit around and rest.

Jenny: That’s the last thing you want to do, because you’re under stress, pressure [Trevor: and that just creates more stress] and deadlines. They tell me to rest, I think they [Rob and Jeff] think ‘Well, we wouldn’t like to be told to rest.’ So it is like a jigsaw, like a puzzle, it’s just changing the pieces around in a different order, to get that jigsaw completed.

I’ve had a lot of experience over 28 years with different practitioners and Rob and Jeff are just stand outs to me.

Trevor: They’re above everybody

How important is it to build an honest relationship with your physio?

Trevor: If you’re not diligent with the rehab they’re giving you, then you’re not going to make the progress that they need.

And like you said, they know!

Jenny: They know!

Trevor: They’ll know instantly

Jenny: There’s something that Rob used to do with me, we had a check list at one point and there were, say, 12 things on it. […] And I would be so diligent at 11 of them, I was amazing at 11 of them, I was so, so, so good. There was a reason, I can’t remember why, I couldn’t do the 12th. It was a good reason, maybe I didn’t have a piece of equipment and I would’ve had to keep on going to the gym.

But I’m not even joking, I went in to the room and I literally stood and he looked at the whole of my body […] and he just said ‘You’ve not been doing such-a-thing.’ And it was the 12th thing I’d not done, he knew with me just standing there. And I said ‘Well, test all the others!’ He’d test all others, he’d say ‘Yeah, yeah, you’ve done all them.’ But I can never get over, by being just stood there, not even moving an inch, that he knew I’d not done one of them and he knew exactly which one it was. I was just ‘Are you a crime scene investigator?’

Trevor: It’s like he’s psychic, there’s something in there

Jenny: Yeah, he literally looked at me and said ‘Why’ve you not been doing your trans-abs?’ and I was just ‘Pardon!?’ So it is completely amazing to be honest with them.

Do you ever feel nervous walking in to clinic?

Trevor: Yeah we have a respect for them

Jenny: I have a respect, but every so often, probably every three months we do an MOT. So we actually go through everything and Rob and Jeff try to forget what they know about me, ‘Blank canvas, start again, let’s forget everything we know about Jen’s habits and let’s start again.’ And I do feel a little bit nervous, like you do in an exam.

‘What have I not done?

Jenny: ‘What’re you going to find?

I remember the first time I went to see Rob for an MOT, probably in 2005 just after I’d started working with him. Let’s say there are 100 things he checks, I failed about 95 of them and I literally thought ‘How am I even this standard and how am I ever going to get to the standard I want to get to?

And this was at the very start?

Jenny: The very start and by the end, I probably passed 95 of them and maybe 5 that weren’t great

How long did that take?

Jenny: Probably 2 to 3 years, so it was a lot of hard work.

But ultimately, I would probably say that the biggest thing, that showed me that the faith Rob has in me and what he can offer, was that I made the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and I remember after Beijing, sitting at his desk, just before he assessed me and I thought it was amazing, that I’d just been to the Olympics; and he said ‘Right are we really going to start doing something now?’ And I thought ‘Pardon? I’ve just been to the Olympics!’ And he said ‘Well, there’s a whole new level, you know, there’s medals now, we’re going to try and aim for medals. There’s another step up.

And I always thought ‘Well, going to the Olympics is probably everything I’ve got, I’ve never thought I could probably win medals.’ But just to have that belief, that passion that he thought ‘Right, let’s go for it, let’s do something else.’ And he said ‘Right, let’s look at this, let’s look at that.’ We call them the One Percenters. If you can improve something by 1%, if you can find something to improve that’s massive, but if you can find maybe three or five, if you can improve 3% or 5%, at the level I’m working at, that’s amazing. And 12 months later, I had a world’s bronze medal.

Which is amazing!

Which maybe as athlete and coach [Jenny and Trevor], we wouldn’t have known how to get that 1%, 3%, 5%; we wouldn’t have known, we wouldn’t have challenged ourselves and maybe we didn’t have that belief that that is possible, but because there was an external person saying ‘No I’ve got this passion, I’ve got this enthusiasm. Let’s go for it.’

Someone who is outside of the box and sees outside of the box as well.

Jenny: You know, twelve months later it happened. Which you know…if someone said to me

Do you think you can do it?’ I was up for it, but I didn’t think it would happen.

Trevor: We’re both quite modest people, aren’t we? We won’t sing in your face ‘Oh, we’re Olympians’ or whatever, oh well, you’re an Olympian [pointing to Jenny], so for Rob to sit there and say…

Jenny: And from someone who we’ve got that huge respect for, to say that, we’re like ‘Really, you believe in us, are you sure?’

Trevor: It helps you raise your own bar, doesn’t it?

Yeah, it gives you that definite push

Jenny: And you know, I believe I would’ve got to (well I was international standard), and I

believe I would’ve got to the Olympics, but I definitely don’t think I would’ve won any medals if it wasn’t for Harris & Ross. I wouldn’t have any of them, definitely not. We’ve both said that.

Trevor: You’d never be in training, you’d be injured all the time.

Jenny: there you go, they’ve literally kept my body together

 You’d be fixing that knee still

Jenny: I would be! I’d have a messy knee!


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