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There is no such thing as bad body parts.

Updated: Apr 18, 2023

Take the word ‘bad’ out of your vocabulary. The word bad is the antonym of good and it can be useful in a lot of situations. The cheese is gone bad. That was a bad judgment call. My bad! But listen to me very carefully; you do not have bad body parts. I don't know when it happened, but people say I have a bad back or I have bad knees or have a bad shoulder all of the time. When someone tells me they have a bad body part, I ask what they mean by that? What does bad mean to my patient? Is my patient afraid of moving the joint? Do they believe pain always means damage? What does it mean to have bad knees? Are they sore? Can you not run 5 miles like you used to? It does not mean you have bad body parts.

There's this notion that bad means non-functional/less functional and I'm here to tell you that that is not the case. I, for the longest time, would say I have a bad hip. I tore the labrum when I was 27 in ballet doing a Grande Jete across the floor. When I was in the acute phase of injury, I had some pain and limits in things I was able to do for a while, but guess what? The labrum never healed, and I am still able hike long distances, lift weights and even take ballet over 10 years later. I don't have a bad hip.

Most of the time pain and injuries don't make you any less functional, they change how you function and it is not always a bad thing. If your back hurts, you probably move a little differently. So? Low back pain is one of the most common reasons people go to see their physician and most the time physicians refer their patient's to physical therapy. When I see a patient for low back pain (mechanical, not a herniated disc), most of the time, they need to move in a more efficient way for their body. Moving in a new way can feel odd because your body like to do what's easy, and with most things easy isn't always best.

I blame the medical professionals who don’t educate their patients correctly and it comes down to language. The word bad is pretty damning. Granted, it’s not as bad as hearing phrases like: it’s damaged, it’s the worst, you can’t because of your back. Is having a damaged body part a real thing? Yes. Injuries occur, but they are not always permanent nor will all of them end your dance career. I think there are some of physical therapists and physicians that sometimes don’t take the time to explain the mechanism of injury, possible explanations of why there might be pain and most confounding of all, explaining pain. (Pain is real and exceptionally complicated and needs its own blog.)

As a physical therapist who is very biased towards her profession, this is where PT can help with how you view your body and injury. If you have a reoccurring issue, find someone who will sit with you to help you understand why you’re feeling what your feeling and develop a plan to try to decrease the occurrence of the issue. It takes work from you and your PT and it’s not always easy. The words you use to describe your body will affect the way you feel about it. Your body works the way it's supposed to and occasionally it needs a little help on the path it's traveling.

Remember, you don’t have any bad body parts. None. Parts that need some TLC? Sure. Are you over 35 and have cranky bits? Obviously. If you're not sure, ask. And remember...


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