Jason Laird has worked in Premiership football, ballet, judo and now gymnastics and as such is one of the most experienced physiotherapists in the UK.
What I have always admired about Jason is his ability to get to the crux of a matter and begin to explore it, develop solutions and adapt.
In this interview you’ll hear about Jason’s early passion for physiotherapy, we talk about doing the hard yards of professional experience, helping aspiring physios learn from his experience and mistakes, but above all what came through was a concept that so often gets overlooked – the value he puts on working with people.
How and why did Jason choose to get into physiotherapy?
In this episode, Jason Laird, one of the UK’s most experienced physiotherapists, opens up about his varied career, which spans Premiership football, ballet, judo, and gymnastics. What stands out is Jason’s deep understanding of the core issues in physiotherapy and his adaptability in developing creative solutions.
Show notes provide a roadmap to the conversation, beginning with Jason’s early passion for physiotherapy and how he got into the field. He discusses the importance of professional experience, the willingness to make mistakes, and the value of learning on the job.
Jason narrates his journey from broad general physiotherapy practice to working at the Chelsea football academy. The story highlights his adaptability, as he has juggled roles across different environments, each requiring different energy levels and expertise.
One of the more unconventional stops on his career path was working in the Royal Ballet. Jason speaks about the importance of thinking differently, asking questions—even those considered ‘stupid’—and the humility to admit when one doesn’t know the answer.
Jason then discusses his transition from judo to gymnastics, emphasizing how the variety and challenges across disciplines have kept his work interesting. Preparing for and dealing with trauma, pushing through recovery, and getting athletes back to play are also covered, with Jason providing insights into risk management and decision-making within physiotherapy.
Towards the end of the conversation, the focus shifts to Jason’s thoughts on mentoring the next generation. He underscores the importance of developing practitioner skills that go beyond a basic understanding of physiology and sports science. Jason lists the key skills he believes are most crucial for up-and-coming practitioners, emphasizing the critical but often overlooked value of working well with people.
Throughout the interview, what shines through is Jason’s emphasis on the human element in physiotherapy. For him, the most meaningful part of his work is not just solving physical problems but connecting with the people he helps.
Routes into physiotherapy
Making mistakes, trialling, working creatively and learning
Broad general physiotherapy practice to Chelsea football academy, how did that happen?
Juggling roles, different environments and energy levels
Working in the Royal Ballet, thinking differently, asking ‘stupid’ questions and being open to not knowing
Judo to gymnastics – it’s all about the variety and the challenge
How do you deal and prepare for trauma
The balance of pushing through recovery and getting back to play, risk management and decision making
Not creating dependency and building your client base
Supporting the next generation, developing and growing practitioner skills beyond the knowledge of physiology and sport
Jason lists the practitioner skills he feels are most important
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