Pulso Preventielab: using elite athletes expertise when helping beginners

On a cold winter’s eve, we spoke to Matthias Boetens of Pulso Preventielab near Kortrijk in Belgium. Pulso Preventielab is a multidisciplinary coaching and rehab center and  since 2015 they are certified Phits Experts.

Matthias founded Pulso Preventielab together with Bart Becquart. The center calls on outside experts for other services such as mental coaching and bike fitting, done by a former professional cyclist. In total the team consists of nearly a dozen experts, each with their own specialization. We asked Matthias of Pulso Preventielab about the center's philosophy.

Matthias Boetens: Pulso Preventielab started from the idea that we want to provide elite athletes and recreational athletes with a place where we can assist them with the various essential aspects of sports experience all under one roof. This started out with testing and coaching, but we have since evolved to bike fitting, body analysis, nutritional advice, physical therapy, strength and stability training. Athletes can turn to us for pretty much anything they could need to become better at their sport.

We’re also seeing more and more people who want to do something about their base fitness level or weight and who are looking for professional guidance. This results in a very broad spectrum of customers. The vast majority of our customers do have a link with sports, but obviously, our physiotherapists and osteopath also see people who do not play sports, but who come to us for rehabilitation. Of course, we try to use the expertise we've acquired helping elite athletes when helping beginners.

Thanks to Phits Insoles among other things we could broaden our audience. We mainly make insoles for athletes. But it isn't just the top athletes who benefit from orthotics, about half our insoles customers are recreational athletes or people just starting out. In the beginning we mostly consulted with the driven, semi-professional athletes but more and more to recreational athletes are starting to see the benefits they could get from it.

How do people find Pulso Preventielab?

Matthias Boetens: Beginning athletes often come to us through friends or acquaintances we've helped in the past, or who are currently undergoing physical therapy or are currently using our services. The different services in Pulso also feed off each other. Our nutritional expert will also provide advice on other services.

When do you decide to recommend orthotics?

Matthias Boetens: The request must come from the customer, in other words, a customer identifies problems and then we go looking for the root of the problem and their activities and sports. Often, we do a gait analysis and depending on the results we propose solutions ranging from additional stabilization and flexibility exercises, physiotherapy and sometimes also orthotics.

How did your coaching center end up with insoles? The link may not be clear right away for everyone?

Matthias Boetens: We often work with triathletes, people who swim, ride their bike and run, and running is by far the most taxing sport. Many people want to quit triathlon at a certain point because the running becomes a problem to the point where it can't be solved with extra exercises or physical therapy. We wanted to provide a solution for these athletes as well and so we ended up at Phits. This was a huge improvement for the triathletes and so we started to perform the analysis for recreational and daily usage, at work for example. These people can also be helped using insoles.

Is it possible for you to make insoles without footscan analysis?

Matthias Boetens: I don’t think so. We are sports scientists and we perfectly understand the running mechanisms, but we wouldn’t be able to develop high quality insoles without the dynamic data provided by footscan.

What about customer satisfaction?

Matthias Boetens: We’ve been able to help a lot of people already, from people who couldn’t walk anymore, to people with hip problems during their daily activities. So customer satisfaction is very good. Obviously, an insole is not always a complete remedy and sometimes it's just part of the solution, but even for these patients the problems are partly solved using Phits insoles. For those patients, we will combine different methods and treatments to provide a satisfactory result. The most gratifying result was solving Stijn's problem. Stijn couldn't run anymore because of a very persistent plantar fasciitis, but thanks to the insoles he ran a half marathon again. So, we've been able to help someone who couldn't run anymore participate in a half-marathon, I think that's a great result. (Read Stijn’s story here). The people with hip problems have also been able to take up their previous training regimen, we're quite proud of that as well.

How do you keep up to date?

Matthias Boetens: for the insoles, I make sure I always follow the expert courses Phits organizes twice a year. Here we get to meet new and different cases and each time we improve our knowledge with small details left and right in order to make our insoles even better for our patients. I also look up a lot of things online, and I can always count on the Phits support team.

You also organize training yourselves, to patients for example, in the Pulso Academy, can you explain how this works?

Matthias Boetens: The idea arose while riding my bike. I found that we often get the same questions about training, power measurements, insoles, nutritional advice... During the dark winter months, people often go outside less to play sports, so we organized a weekly session to share information with attendees and have them ask questions to which we can provide in depth answers possibly with the help of external experts as we have done for instance in the session on Phits. We were able to reach and help many people with this.

More info? 

Matthias Boetens - Co-founder Pulso Preventielab