News & Updates

Natasha Watson on travelling with kids, witnessing recovery and being an everyday athlete

"I played soccer for years before I had kids, but now I’m their cheerleader."

We recently had a lively chat with Natasha, part of Arbutus’s administrative team, about her work, how she stays active, and why she thinks it’s important to expose her kids to different places outside of their home “bubble.”

What is it like being in the world of physiotherapy?

It’s obviously not great to see clients come in injured or in severe pain, but I love seeing how they progress over time. Their whole demeanour changes! We joked the other day that we need to come up with certificates and make a little ceremony for our clients when they “graduate.” 

Being in the world of physio also helps me be more compassionate. Often, our clients are dealing with discomfort or severe pain; they’ve tried everything and they aren’t getting the results they want, so sometimes they’re frustrated. We’re here to help them find a plan for treatment and walk with them every step of the way.

Have you ever received physiotherapy?

Yes! I do a lot of regular, everyday activities like yard work or house painting and quite often, just jump right in and sometimes overdo it. I feel really lucky to have access to the incredible team at Arbutus. 

At work, I have the only standing desk so I’m on my feet a lot. But sometimes, I don’t have the right shoes, and I know I should take breaks and sit. The physios will come around and remind me, they’re always willing to help.

Receiving treatments myself makes it easier for me to recommend treatments to our clients because I know how they all work. And I can more easily refer clients to the right physio.

What keeps you active?

These days, going for walks, hiking, and yard work! My kids love helping with the leaf blower in the fall. And they love to fly kites, so we’re always going to the beach. We’re just a block away from the ocean and often, we’ll pack up a picnic and walk or bike over and enjoy the sea.

I played soccer for years before I had kids, but now I’m their cheerleader.

Natasha Watson is part of the Arbutus admin team.

How long have you lived in Victoria?

Just about my whole life. We moved here from Kamloops when I was two, my dad worked for a bank and was transferred here (he had the option between Victoria or the Yukon). We moved to Oak Bay and have been here ever since, so I’ve seen many changes in the neighbourhood. 

The Starbucks on Oak Bay Ave used to be a movie theatre, which makes me feel old! But other things haven’t changed and it’s neat that my kids are spending their allowance at the same stores where I did the exact same thing at their age. The twins go to the same elementary school as I did, and they’ll go to the same high school where I went and where I met my husband. It’s wild!

Is there a seasonality to physio?

Totally. For example, we can tell when people start getting into their gardens in the spring because we’ll get calls for back and knee problems.

Why is it important to be proactive when it comes to injuries?

More and more, I’m being proactive and taking action before things get too bad. I had really bad sciatica going down my leg recently and it wasn’t going away. So, I went in for Functional Dry Needling with Ashley and she said, “I’m so proud of you for coming in early!” My response was, “Yes, I’m learning!” Now, if I get a sense that something might be off, I try to deal with it right away. My thought process goes something like, “I know where this is headed: if I don’t do something now, I won’t be able to move or sleep later.” 

What I’ve learned from being in the world of physio is that maintenance requires fewer visits. We openly talk about this in the clinic and the difference it makes (preventative care versus acute care).

People can be reluctant to come in but eventually, they’ll phone us and we congratulate them for taking the first step. Often, once they’re here, they say something like, “Why did I wait so long?” Sometimes, it’s because they were avoiding it; other times, it’s because maybe they had a bad experience once in a medical setting. By the time they leave Arbutus, they feel taken care of and heard

You have twins!

Yes! They’re the best of friends. They’re fraternal twins, so they’re not competitive [laughs]. I have an older sister, so I know what it’s like to be overshadowed by an older sibling. Having them balances out the house but the girls still rule!

Natasha Watson takes a selfie with her fraternal twins in the winter, as they all wear toques and jackets.

You love to travel with your kids

Spring break is usually the time when we take a big family trip and we try to take the kids somewhere outside of their Oak Bay bubble. We took them to Thailand for three weeks one time. I think it’s good for them to see the world. Landing in Bangkok blew their minds. It’s one thing to tell them about a place but to go experience it is another thing and they still talk about it.

It doesn’t have to be big trips though, we’ve taken them up to Tofino and other local places. We don’t have to jet-set to have a beautiful experience in nature and see something new. It’s more important that we expose them to different places so they understand they don’t have to be limited to one way of living. That’s how we discover new things.

Do young people need physio?

We do see young kids that are gymnastics or skiers or other competitive athletes that are engaging in activities that are hard on their bodies. We’ll occasionally see young figure skaters and gymnasts come in with Plantar Fasciitis or other injuries. We tell them to scale back, stretch, ice, and rest which can be hard for them to hear if they’re keen and want to jump back in right away. We’ll work with their parents to help them communicate with their kids. Or, it’s the other way around and the kids are their own advocates and can tell their parents about their treatment plans.

One of the big things for elementary kids, teens, and university students is wearing a backpack properly. I’ve been amazed as a parent to see how much stuff gets crammed into a backpack, even for someone as young as eight years old! They have library books, their lunch, school supplies, and all sorts of heavy things. We actually ran an article about how to properly wear your backpack.

How do your kids stay active?

The twins play soccer and my older one plays volleyball, and they’re all involved in different kinds of clubs, like sign language and social justice. There’s so much more available to them than when I was their age. They really get to discover their strengths. 

How did you find Arbutus?

I was looking to get back into the workforce after having three kids. I wanted to get out of the house and have adult conversations, and I saw Arbutus had posted a job. I thought it would provide more balance in my life. So, I interviewed with Sandy and we had so much in common! Our oldest girls went to the same school and we lived two blocks away from each other. I looked at her at the end and said, “You have to hire me!” It’s been nine years since that day and it just feels right!

What do you love most about your job?

I really get to know our clients and their lives. I enjoy being the first point of contact, staying in the loop of the goings-on, and having conversations with our clients while they wait.

Who are your favourite clients?

I love to witness how clients’ attitudes will change as they progress through their treatment. Some have even gone to the point of calling us to apologize to us for their initial attitude because they were in so much pain. And then we’ll say, down the road when they’re making progress, that they don’t have crutches or a cane and they’ll dance right out of the clinic. So maybe, my favourite clients are the ones who are the toughest at the beginning!