Meet Summit Physical Therapist Sam Olson
Sam’s personal enthusiasm for active sports motivates him to encourage patients to take ownership of their rehabilitation process and reclaim their favorite activities.
Sam Olson grew up playing sports in his small Wisconsin hometown. During college at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, his interest in fitness led him to classes in anatomy and physiology, paving the way to a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from the College of St. Scholastica and a career in physical therapy with a specialty in sports medicine. He has also demonstrated his advanced knowledge, experience, and skills in orthopedics by successfully obtaining his board-certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist certification.
“I work with patients with non-operative, pre-operative, and post-operative issues,” explains Sam. “I might help an athlete with hip pain who wants to get back to a sport, or a patient recovering from a rotator cuff repair. My job is to help them go back to work, reclaim recreational activities, take care of their children, or resume their golf game on the weekends.”
Sam puts a priority on developing a good rapport with his patients. He’s found that when he shows people that he is invested in their recovery, it encourages them to be invested as well.
“Patients expect me to perform at a very high level because they want to get back to a high level,” Sam says. “I encourage them to take their program outside of the walls of this clinic. My patients may spend one hour each week with me. It’s a very small percentage of the total time I want them to spend on rehabilitation. What they do at home is much more important than what they do in clinic. Ideally, patients should invest 15 to 30 minutes in their rehabilitation exercises most days of the week—and do them once or twice a day.”
Simply walking and taking stairs correctly is an important part of correcting problems. “We take thousands of steps every day,” says Sam. “When we aren’t walking or climbing stairs correctly, we multiply the small errors in one step by a couple thousand steps every day. When you do the math, you can see that incorrect steps prevent us from maximizing our potential. Rehabilitation isn’t just about the specific exercises I give to my patients. How we hold our bodies and move during the rest of the day is important, too. For people with shoulder pain, their daily posture at the computer can be hugely important. Our posture matters because we spend so much of our day at our desk, in our car, eating, and doing other activities.”
For Sam, an active lifestyle that includes running, training, backpacking, camping, and hiking helps him to meet his patients’ expectations. “I have to walk the walk so my patients have confidence that I can get them back to where they want to be,” he says. “This keeps me motivated to continually develop the knowledge and expertise to rehabilitate the patients who count on me. Their expectations keep me striving to do better.”
Learn about whether you need medical evaluation if your legs give out.
Dr. Choi identifies bruised spine symptoms that require medical evaluation.
Ask the Expert: Foot and Ankle Video Series