• Caitlin Kennedy

Jo Pollard Physio

We sat down with Jo Pollard of Jo Pollard Physio to talk about taking the leap and starting her own physiotherapy company.

How long have you been in Val as a physio?

I’ve been in Val for seven seasons and worked as a physio for 11 years. After training in Cardiff, I worked in the NHS for four years and then came out to do a ski season and somehow I’m still here! The last two years I’ve been working with the GB ski and snowboard para-teams and actually I’m continuing with that this year. Come February I’ll be heading off to where they are training for two weeks. Last year I was with them for a couple of months so I travelled to America, Finland, Switzerland, Germany, which was really cool.

How does your work with Para athletes differ from your everyday work?

It doesn’t really. A lot of the work I do is with the blind athletes, so physically, they are very similar, it’s just that their one sense is taken away, so I end up doing more work on balance, proprioception and awareness. But other than that, there’s little difference. With the para-snowboarders I work with, some have amputations, so that changes things a little, but it just requires you to think slightly differently about their movement. So for example, when the guys were training in Switzerland, they were having to use a poma and you have to factor in how fatiguing that is for them, especially when their race training is so intense. But it’s really interesting and I love the work. They are very inspiring people to be around.

And how has setting up your business in France been?

It’s been tricky. There’s the complexity of being registered both in the UK and in France. It’s been very important for me to be on the Ordre des masseurs-kinésithérapeutes register in france (OMK) and then in the UK I’m on the CSP (Chartered Society of Physiotherapy). This year in Val, I’m the only physio that’s registered in the UK and has my Carte Pro, meaning I can treat anyone that has a Carte Vitale (the French health insurance card) and they can get reimbursed by the government. That’s been the hardest part, setting all that up. But it’s vital that people check that their physio is fully registered so that they are getting the proper care and can claim the expense back from their insurance.

What was it that got you into physio in the first place?

At school, I was super sporty and I used to compete in gymnastics, training pretty intensely. So I decided I wanted to be a physio for a sports team. But then physio is so different to what people initially think of, so when I came to study it, I discovered areas of the field I’d never thought about, like intensive care and care of the elderly. I ended up doing rotations in my placements, so I worked in every sector and at the time, it was really tough, but actually the amount I learnt from care in the community, or the intensive care unit that I’ve applied to my current work, is amazing. It’s definitely made me the physio I am today.

I now feel really confident with ski and snowboard injuries. But working in Chamonix this summer, I got to treat runners and other sporting injuries too, whilst back in the UK I’ve worked with rugby players and the Cardiff climbing team as I worked at a climbing wall for a while. And I teach a lot of pilates back in the UK.

That must be quite popular here as well? You’ve done some great videos with SkiBro which bring in pilates and ski fitness.

Yeah, I’m trying to build on that. The videos have gone down really well (you can find them on youtube; they’re called SkiBro Mountain-Ready Workouts) and I’ve got a lot of requests for pilates classes including from several guides who have lower back pain. And pilates can really help strengthen them up. Likewise for seasonaires doing manual or repetitive jobs, like chalet work, it’s really good to fi in that kind of strengthening work to keep your back and core strong and prevent injury. And for the office workers, a lot of the Pilates I teach is good for posture and core strengthening, which can really help with back and neck problems, which can be a real issue if you’re sat down for a lot of the day. So watch this space for lessons which will be coming soon.

And with all of this work, do you ever get any time left on the mountain?

Yes, I definitely do. My main reason for being out here is because I love to ride, on skis or board. The goal this season is to get some of the longer tours under my belt, and get more into mountaineering and alpinism. Also, I’d like to steer clear of the accidents. I have had a lot of injuries, which I actually think has helped with my knowledge of the physio for those problems. After a broken back, broken, fractured and dislocated lower ankle and leg, broken wrist, broken collarbone, broken knuckle, lacerated elbow and several carpal tunnel releases, I can say I know your pain!

Oh my days, you’re fully patchwork! What can people get help with from you this season and where can they find you?

I can do physio, massage and as previously mentioned, pilates. Also biomechanical assessment, so if anyone is struggling with their ski technique or is having restrictions with their skiing, I can help with that. You can find me in the Portillo building just passed SkiBro on the left. I’ve got a new little office there with everything necessary for treatment. Chalet visits are also possible, including in Tignes and further afield, although I’m hoping to mostly work from the office, especially as many people are happy to make the trip up the valley to get whatever help they need.

Seasonaires get 50% off all treatments and if any workers in town refer more than 6 people to me, they get a free treatment in return. Ski Club of Great Britain members get discounts as well.

Thanks Jo and well done on setting up the business.

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