Q & A with Stephen Mallard, leading sports and golf physio and MD of Total Physiotherapy.

Q & A with Stephen Mallard, leading sports and golf physio and MD of Total Physiotherapy. 1024 768 Henman Communications


We are delighted to announce that we have started working with Stephen Mallard, sports and golf specific physio working in Maidstone in Kent. We spoke to Stephen about Total Physiotherapy, his recommendations to staying fit in the lockdown, his love of golf and running, working with professional British Ladies European Tour golfer Sian Evans, his favourite athletes growing up and how top business people who struggle through pain day to day can reduce unnecessary stress, affecting all aspects of their personal and business life by regular physiotherapy.

1 Tell us a little about your background, upbringing and education.

I grew up just outside Maidstone, in Kent, and keep finding my way back to that area. I have an older sister and younger brother and because we are all close in age, we have great relationships. My mum has a background in tennis and played in Wimbledon a couple of times. One year she lost to John McEnroe in the mixed doubles. She always reminds us she won all her service games!

My mum’s passion for sport was passed to me and my brother, who had a competitive rivalry and probably secretly still do! As we got older, I continued to play as much sport as I could. I competed in football, tennis, rugby, 400m, cross country, basketball and cricket for various teams but focused on golf as my main sport due to there being a golf course within walking distance of my house.

Ironically, I always managed to pick up my fair share of injuries – even in golf(!) due to my desire to win, putting my body on the line more than I maybe should have. This started my fascination of how the body works and meant I would go on to study Exercise Science (Health & Rehabilitation) at Bournemouth University (as well as playing a lot of University Golf while down there) and a few years after, studying Physiotherapy at King’s College London.

2 When did you qualify as a physiotherapist, what do you love about being a physio?

I finished my first degree in 2012 and spent a couple of years working with different levels of recreational sportspeople, developing sports specific and injury prevention training programmes. Due to the nature of that degree, I wasn’t able to diagnose injury, so started a Physiotherapy course in 2014, becoming qualified in 2017.

There are two things I most love about being a physio. The first is the sheer number of different and interesting people I meet. I’ve heard some amazing stories in my time and there are definitely no boring days when doing clinic work. The second is how much of a difference I can make to a person’s life. People have this strange habit of seeking help at the last possible moment because they ‘think the pain will go away’ and by this time they are leading quite a different life to what they should be. Often, most conditions can ease significantly with some good advice. Seeing someone get back to a hobby they haven’t been able to do for months is very rewarding.

3 Tell us when you set up Total Physiotherapy and why have you decided to focus on sport?

I always wanted to set up on my own, as I am a driven individual and it was what I could see myself doing. However, timing is key in those situations because most private Physios share the same idea. I was lucky that a contact I made through golf, the owner of Total Podiatry (Ian Lenehan) was looking to share his premises with a physio. This allowed me to build Total Physiotherapy, starting in December 2018.

Although the clinic is open to anyone with a Musculoskeletal physio problem, I specialise in sports physio because my passion lies with sport. More specifically, helping people get back to playing/competing, training in the most effective way to maximise performance and to reduce the chance of injuries happening in the first place. I believe that when you’re injured, you want the person treating you to either have experience in your sport, or have had the injury themselves – and in a lot of instances I satisfy both of those criteria.

4 You specialise in the sports injury areas and have worked a lot in golf and running. Can you tell us about these key services?

Yes – golf is the sport I have spent the most time playing, researching, studying and developing performance/injury reduction programmes for. It is a sport that has become/is becoming more and more athletic and an article in 2018 suggested that 7 out of 10 amateurs will sustain a golf related injury in their lifetime.

Our golf service is quite flexible to match a golfer’s needs, but generally involves the following process:

  • Assessment of current injuries
  • Complete golf fitness screen, assessing the mobility and stability of every joint required for golf
  • Treatment action plan, designed to take you from painful to pain free
  • Warm up and warm down programmes that are unique to the individual and designed to maximise play. Includes nutritional advice during play
  • Either a 4, 6, 8 or 12 week comprehensive golf specific fitness programme, covering all necessary training to maximise your golf fitness and reduce the risk of injury.

In terms of running, I am a keen recreational runner, having run the London Marathon and many half marathon races. Our running service is split into 3 categories: Injured, Training for Event or Training for PB. The aims of each category are as follows:

  • Injured – Eradicate pain and return to running as soon as possible
  • Training for Event – Guiding someone who is training for a specific event (anything up to an Ultra Marathon) by supplying unique training plans, offering sports massage interventions at intense training load periods and physiotherapy specific sessions for any niggles picked up.
  • Training for PB – Offers the same benefits as ‘Training for Event’ package but training programmes are geared towards speed rather than achieving distance for the first time. In this instance, injury is at an increased risk, so more sports massage sessions and injury prevention programmes are included.

5 I understand that you are working with Sian Evans, top Ladies European Tour player and qualified PGA teaching professional. How would you say working with elite athletes compares to working with amateur club athletes or indeed non-sports related physiotherapy?

This is a great question. The honest (and cliché) answer is that no two people are the same anyway, so it’s essential for me to base my treatment around an individual’s goals and circumstances. Client’s tend to fall into one of two categories: those I need to reign back from activity and those I need to encourage to do more activity. When injured, using that injured structure in the correct amount is important. This changes at each stage of recovery. People who regularly play sport often want to do too much too soon and those who aren’t as used to injury/pain need a bit of encouragement to get back doing things.

Working with Sian is great because she is the best of both those worlds. She has a great work ethic, is interested in why we are doing certain things and knows how important implementing injury reduction strategies are.

6 Can you give us 5 top tips to help us stay fit and healthy, both mentally and physically during the lockdown.

Continuing healthy habits during lockdown is crucially important. My top 5 tips are:

  1. Have structure to your day still, like you would on a normal work day. Once you fall out of routine, it’s very easy to stay out of it. Even get dressed in your work clothes!
  2. Move move move. You will be spending more time sitting down and this can lead to all sorts of complications. Set time aside for exercise. If you find this difficult, use what would usually be your commute time, to walk outside or even round the house.
  3. Keep exercise varied. Although we want to keep our daily routine similar and structured, this does not apply to exercise. Keep mixing things up so you keep the body guessing about what’s coming next (the best way to improve general fitness) and, most importantly, so you enjoy it.
  4. Dig out some new or old recipes. Nutrition is always important in keeping healthy, but even more so now when you’re not moving as much. Find those old recipe books to inspire you to cook different things or search online. There are some great, simple, tasty, healthy recipes out there.
  5. If you’ve never tried this, then give it a go – meditation. This is such an underrated activity. Once a day, sit on your own in a quiet room with your eyes closed and think through your objectives for the day or the next day. Imagine yourself achieving these objectives and how great you’ll feel in doing this. Alternatively, just clearing your mind and being quiet for 10-15mins can work wonders.

7 I know you offer home visits, but this in this lockdown period this may be difficult. I understand you now also offer remote consultations over Zoom. Can you tell us more and how this works?

The good weather we’ve had since lockdown has made home visits easier, as they can be completed in gardens, reducing risk of transmission, however, I must stress that face to face appointments are currently on an emergency basis only.

As you rightly say, Zoom is now essential in my daily life. A video session involves taking a thorough history or update of a condition, checking current movements and asking certain self-tests to be performed to help diagnose the problem. From here, a clear explanation of your condition is made and a treatment plan laid out. This involves some good advice on management, sometimes self-hands-on treatment and always will involve exercises to reduce your pain, encourage healing, make you more robust and reduce the chance of the injury returning. We have a very good online exercise tool that shows you your unique exercise programme, complete with videos, number of sets and repetitions, how often to complete and a diary so you can tick these off when you’re done.

8 I know you are based in Maidstone and the surrounding areas, but are not limited to this area. How far are you able to travel?

Every home visit is assessed on an individual basis. I want to go the extra mile for my clients, so feel I am quite flexible. For example, I wouldn’t say there is a limit on travel should someone want me at an event they are competing in. I encourage newcomers to give me a call and we can take things from there.

9 Do you take any health or fitness supplements? If so what are they and how do they help you?

I have experimented with quite a few supplements in my time. I’ve settled on regularly using protein, as getting enough protein is important for recovery and maintaining a good, healthy weight. There is also evidence to suggest that consuming the right amount of protein satisfies hungry and keeps you fuller for longer more than the other food categories. I am currently trialling various vegan ones due to a slight dairy intolerance I have.
I also take a daily vitamin/mineral tablet to ensure I’m regularly intaking everything I need. There is, however, no substitute for a varied diet and I try to vary what I’m eating as much as possible. The final thing I take is an Omega supplement. I’m not keen on fish so take this to ensure I’m getting enough essential fats.

10 For people who want to create a simple ‘home gym’ can you recommend any pieces of fitness equipment to help people stay fit and healthy?

Home gyms are a hot topic at the moment. To maintain general fitness, I would invest in a kettlebell, adjustable step and an exercise band. With those pieces of simple equipment, you can make a routine as challenging as like you, hitting every single muscle group. The kettlebell I have is 12kg and I would put my base strength as fairly good, so buying lots of heavy weights aren’t needed.

11 Did you have a sporting icon growing up? If so who?

Tiger Woods was a sporting inspiration to me and still is. His work ethic and mental strength is astonishing. He is a big reason as to why golf is so popular now and the fact that he’s so loved, even with his off the course exploits in the past, is testament to how great he is. From a physio point of view, him winning the Tour Championship in 2018 and the Masters last year is unrivalled in sport, in my opinion. The sheer determination to come from 4 back surgeries, 8 knee surgeries, struggle through the chipping ‘yips’ and endure a complete swing rebuild in his mid-40s to beat the rest of the world – to quote John McEnroe, ‘you cannot be serious!?’

12 Do you have any favourite athletes now?

Apart from Tiger, my favourite athlete at the moment is Andy Murray. In my opinion he is the greatest British sportsman of all time. Breaking the dominance of Federer, Nadal and Djokovic to reach the top of the world rankings in arguably the greatest era of tennis is an achievement that cannot be overestimated. He is someone who completely maximised his potential and unfortunately it looks like he’s paying the price for that now with the toll it’s taken on his hips.

13 What are the wider health, fitness and wellbeing benefits for top business executives, CEO’s and MD’s having regular physio?

Musculoskeletal injury/pain is one of the most common reasons for staff absence (it may still be the top cause for time off work). A 2016 report suggested during that year, 22.4% of all work absences were attributed to musculoskeletal problems, amounting to 30.8 million lost work days. As stress increases, susceptibility to pain and pain intensity also increases, causing productivity to decrease. I imagine there are top businesspeople, and those running companies, who struggle through pain day to day, increasing stress to unnecessary levels, affecting all aspects of their personal and business life.

Seeing a physio regularly can help with the immediate reduction in pain, leading to stress reduction, through manual techniques specifically designed for just that, as well as regular advice and tips on how to introduce prevention strategies to your day. This also keeps one accountable, knowing someone is checking up on your positive strategies. It is socially accepted to have regular check-ups for the dentist, optician, GP, etc. and I think we’re moving to a time where regular physical check-ups will be, or should be, the norm to help reduce the risk of future pain.

Follow Stephen here:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/totalsportsphysio/
Instagram: www.instagram.com/totalsportsphysio/?hl=en
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TotalSportsKent

To make an appointment see: www.total-physio-therapy.com/