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Changing your opinion



I had a ‘friend’ in college who for some reason I completely had it in for. Now at the time she was very nice to me, and she was a great dancer, and for some reason I just didn't have it in me to be nice to her. I have no idea why. She did literally had done nothing to me and I was just nasty to her for no reason. I actually pulled my head out of my ass and started treating her with respect that she deserved just as human, and she even asked me to dance for her in her thesis concert. (A fun little sidenote I was giving it my best at her thesis concert, and I ran and nearly slid off of the stage causing my friend to burst out into giggles on stage during the performance)

I was thinking about Cinderella* and one of the things I think about of myself as a therapist is much like in college, your opinions change. As PT, I love learning new ways to treat my patients and taking continuing education to further my knowledge about the body. The more I learn, the more my opinions I originally held change. One of the things I’m shifting my mentality on is HAES (https://asdah.org/health-at-every-size-haes-approach/). In media and even in healthcare, there is the idea that skinny is healthy and big-an incredibly subjective word- is not. Health at Every Size is combating the idea that having a smaller body and BMI is the ideal. BMI, Body Mass Index, is a LOAD of crap and it does NOT take into account body composition or your lab results from your physician. As someone who it technically obese with a BMI of 30, I know I am a healthy person. Did I initially panic? Yes. The word obese has some negative connotations to it and it does not define a person. On the flip side, being too small due to restrictive/altered eating patterns can cause someone to develop osteopenia leading to osteoporosis as well as cardiac conditions.[1]

As a PT, despite some research that suggests obesity can contribute to body pain, listening to my patients tell me their physicians only think their problem is weight pisses me off. I examined how I listen to my patients and checked my own weight bias. I was more careful about my language even when asking about their diet in terms of healing and energy expenditure. I make suggestions and move on. (Almost everyone benefits from an increase in fruits and veggies)

I have learned to grow and change and adapt my opinion about information and how I to share that information to my patients. One of the other things I've really grown to embrace is: there really is no such thing as a bad exercise. There's always an option for a better exercise, or an exercise that's best for your body for what your goals are. I think as dancers and even sometimes as healthcare professionals we get caught up on how things look versus how they really are. Dancers and Physical Therapists are 2 professions where flexing the spine (touching your toes or crunches) is can be considered bad. Spinal flexion is a movement your spine automatically does in a lot of your daily activities. (Try sneezing or standing up with out spinal flexion and let me know if you’re successful). Initially, I was very staunch in my belief that a rigid spine is best. I got to thinking after watching a Jefferson curl, I started to think about the mechanics of the spine and tissue tolerance. The body for the most part can tolerate a tremendous about of stress and the spine is essentially a gigantic spring designed to tolerate impact and a lot of motion. As far as the mechanics of the spine, if your physiology will allow it, it will bend pretty far, but there are lots of ligaments and soft tissues that will prevent anything serious from happening. With soft tissues, plastic changes happen without damage as long as load is slowly and progressively added, and the form is correct for your body. This is one reason programing is so important. I now think spinal flexion should be added to strength programs and not excluded.

Was this blog slightly all over the place? Yup, but I think it drove the point home that your opinions about something should change and evolve (except becoming a bigot, don’t do that). Thinking and challenging something you thought was right is not always a bad thing and it might open your world in more ways than one. If your physical therapist appears to be stuck in their ways and won’t let their view be challenged, find a new one. You deserve better.



*Name has been changed


[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4590190/

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