Jonathan Hilbert won a silver medal in the 50km walk at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. He has been suffering from pubic oedema for two years, which he has been treating with DEEP OSCILLATION® Personal Basic for a year. We spoke to him and asked him about his experiences with DEEP OSCILLATION® therapy.
PM: Thank you very much for your willingness to do this interview. Please introduce yourself briefly.
JH: With pleasure. My name is Jonathan Hilbert, I am 27 years old and come from Mühlhausen in Thuringia. I started athletics in 2004 when I was 9 years old and switched to the sports school in Erfurt in 2011. I was a runner for a long time, but then switched to walking after a while. I am a multiple German champion in this discipline, have taken part in European and World Championships and then won silver at the Olympic Games last year.
In the meantime, I am a full-time professional athlete and have therefore already had a few aches and pains. The biggest problem at the moment is this bone marrow oedema on my pubic bone. I was first diagnosed with it shortly before the Olympics last year. Before and during the Olympics, my therapist and I tried out many different therapy methods. After the Olympics, the question arose as to what to do next and what other methods were available. Fortunately, I came into contact with PHYSIOMED and DEEP OSCILLATION® through the Olympic base in Erfurt.
PM: You use the DEEP OSCILLATION® Personal Basic. Which indications do you mainly use it for?
JH: For the pubic bone I always use the programme for oedema. If I notice something in other places, then I try it out. On very intensive days, for example after a strength endurance programme and additional strength training, I often notice that the muscles are already a bit sore, so I always take the muscle soreness programme. It frees up the thighs or whatever areas are affected.
Yes, I think it’s very cool and I’m very fond of this treatment method because it’s simply very gentle and doesn’t always involve a high intensity or a high load for the structure, but is really very pleasant.
It’s almost a ritual that accompanies me every evening after a long day of training. I then go through these 25 minutes of the oedema programme on the pubic bone in front of the TV.
And I really have to say that when I have days on which I have trained a lot and do this in the evening, I notice a noticeable difference the next morning compared to when I don’t do it in the evening after a very training-intensive day.
My pubic bone symptoms are also chronic now, so at the moment it’s important that I stay asymptomatic at a certain level and that it doesn’t get worse. I manage that very well with DEEP OSCILLATION®. Of course, in physiotherapy we also work intensively on the muscle attachments and directly on the symphysis, on the bones, which is also important and right. But I also think it’s good that you can create another component through DEEP OSCILLATION® and that you can also do something at home as an athlete, without a lot of effort, without having a lot of knowledge and somehow having to know a lot. You have the programme, you set it up, you take the thing and you start. It’s just very user-friendly and very simple and clear.
I travel a lot in training camps and I have the device with me all over the world. When I’m in training camp with my buddies and they have one or two aches and pains, I’ve always lent it out for two or three days during the season. When we stayed together in the hotel, they always took it and worked on their problem areas a bit and were also very pleased.
The feedback was always the same, that it is simply a very gentle and simple method and that it can be done on the side. You can still read a bit, watch a film or relax and still do something proactive for your health or for regeneration. That’s why it’s very cool, I have to say.
The operation is really self-explanatory with the control dial. And it’s also good that there are not a thousand buttons, but that there is only one. And I think if you play around with it three or four times, it’s super easy to understand. I also have to be honest and say that when I lent it to someone in the training camp, they didn’t ask much about it. I just explained it to them briefly. They didn’t ask any questions. It’s much easier than other equipment I’ve tried out in the past 13 years of competitive sport, so it’s great.
PM: What kind of other equipment would that be?
JH: We’re talking about ultrasound devices, sometimes at physiotherapy or something, or I once took a portable ultrasound device from physiotherapy. Then I’m talking about lymphomats, which are sometimes very difficult to operate, where you don’t even know “okay, how much pressure do I actually use now, what is actually still good and what is perhaps already too much pressure, too little pressure?” And such mistakes cannot happen with DEEP OSCILLATION®®. And then I’m talking about portable shock wave therapy devices that you can take with you to training camps, and then the physiotherapist always had to be with us because the settings are all too complicated. And here with DEEP OSCILLATION®, everything is preset and there are also these clear programme names. As an athlete, if I am told that I have oedema, then of course I take this programme because it is called the same. If I have sore muscles, then I just take the programme for sore muscles, so that’s self-explanatory.
PM: How was the introduction to DEEP OSCILLATION® at the beginning? Were you shown the therapy by a physiotherapist?
JH: Exactly, I went to physiotherapy and our physiotherapist Sabine Hochfeld from the OSP in Erfurt asked me if I would be interested in trying something new. Yes, and that’s how it came about that the three of us made an appointment with Ms Clauß from PHYSIOMED. She then used the gloves to stick the electrode on me and massaged my abdomen and adductor area. And it was really very pleasant. Afterwards I got in touch with Mrs Clauß and she gave me the device to test.
PM: Then you could compare it a bit between the therapy with the gloves and with the hand applicator, did you feel a difference?
JH: Actually, not really, I also gave the device to my physiotherapist once in the training camp. That day I had flexor problems after a very intensive training session. The normal massage techniques wouldn’t have helped, because too much pressure would have caused me too much pain. I showed my therapist the device and he used it on three consecutive days. There was definitely an improvement, even immediately afterwards. Of course, the muscle soreness doesn’t go away from one moment to the next, that’s logical, but I simply noticed that the tone was a bit less, that the structure was a bit suppler again and that I could also feel an increased circulation of blood.
This is also what I always notice in the region of the pubic bone, that it actually gets warm during the therapy with DEEP OSCILLATION®. I really notice that there is also increased blood circulation.
I have to say that the massage with gloves by someone else is of course nicer, but when I treat myself at home, it works just as well with the hand applicators. Above all, I know where my problem areas are. I know, okay, the symphysis, that’s not really a problem, but rather the branches of the pubic bone, where the adductors actually attach, those are the main places where it hurts. Then of course I can control myself with the big or the small head in which region I apply the DEEP OSCILLATION®. It doesn’t do me any good if I put the thing on my girlfriend and say “OK, here, do it down there, do it down there” and then I have to direct her the whole time, that’s not really beneficial.
PM: What was your physiotherapist’s reaction to the device?
JH: He hadn’t heard of it yet, but he was very impressed and compared the structure of the tissue and said that it felt smoother. But of course it is always difficult, when you use something once, to give any meaningful feedback. But I know that more and more people in the German athletics federation are actually using it. I was at the European Championships and I saw it more and more often in the physio room, that it was being used more and more. And also with athletes who had flexor problems, who somehow had a small strain after the preliminary race, or something like that, it was often used to get them fit for the final.
PM: You didn’t have DEEP OSCILLATION® during the Olympics. How did you deal with the pain then, i.e. which therapies did you receive and to what extent did it improve with the DEEP OSCILLATION®?
JH: I had daily physiotherapy: two to three hours every day. Now I can allow myself days when I don’t have to go to physiotherapy. And on those days I can also treat it myself and simply stimulate the healing a bit. Sometimes, when I actually have a high tone in the adductors, I manage to get the tone down again through DEEP OSCILLATION® – myself, and I don’t have to go to physiotherapy. Because stretching is no longer possible, it doesn’t work anymore, but through DEEP OSCILLATION® it is still possible. When I have treated it, I notice that the muscle fibrillates slightly afterwards, i.e. that there is always a small muscle contraction immediately afterwards and the muscle relaxes a little and that the abdominal muscles, which are also attached to the pubic bone, become looser. I can’t do that on my own by stretching or with a fascia roller.
PM: Would you recommend DEEP OSCILLATION® to your fellow athletes?
JH: Yes, definitely, so if you are an athlete who regularly has to deal with torn muscle fibres, for example, because you are a sprinter or do high-speed power sports, or if you have a chronically inflamed area due to this extremely high physical strain, for example, on the knee, then of course I can recommend it, because then it is also worthwhile. It’s always a question of weighing up “what facilities do I have that I can use”, and do I really have a body that is very susceptible to problems or do I not have a body that has major problems, but one that simply functions. I mean, there are athletes who are very resistant and can compensate for high stresses well, in which case I might not need it. But for that group I can recommend it, yes.
PM: Are there any final words you would like to say?
JH: Yes, first of all I would like to say thank you that I was allowed to test the device for such a long time and that I was able to get my problems under control, so that I can simply train properly and do not have to interrupt my training much, or do not have to run to the physiotherapist every day, but can simply treat myself after moderate training days and do not need anyone else. So it certainly takes a bit of work off the physiotherapists that I can treat myself, but of course it also takes a lot of stress and work off myself, because I don’t have to go somewhere for physiotherapy, but can simply treat myself on the couch in the evening.