I have an immense respect for doctors and their knowledge base. They go through rigorous training in medical school to learn how the body works, how to fix it when it is broken and how to keep it alive when it is dying. On a daily basis doctors help their patients with a wide variety of medical issues from diabetes to cancer and from pregnancy to Parkinson’s. We need them in our lives because our society just cannot function properly without them. That being said, I would like to share my experience and stories in dealing with doctors from the perspective of a physiotherapist that has:
- 10 years’ experience working with injured clients (including many doctors) that have battled through public and private medical systems, specialists, tests, etc
- 5 years’ experience working as a physiotherapist within a large family practice doctors’ office in a building with the UBC Medical School and every different medical specialty available in British Columbia
- 2 opportunities to help teach 4th year UBC medical students how to do proper back assessments
- A personal history of numerous injuries, trips to the doctor and hospital
The purpose of this post is not to make doctors look bad, it is to help the general public understand what they should and should not expect from their doctors and the medical system as a whole. Doctors are very smart people, but they don’t know everything, and most of the time they work in a model that doesn’t allow them to help you in a thorough or timely manner; we should not be mad at doctors for this, we should just adjust our expectations and understand that a doctor might not always be the one with the best advice or treatment for your ailment.
When something hurts and doesn’t go away after a couple of days or weeks most people will search the internet for their symptoms and then likely visit their doctor to try and figure out what is going on. Read More
Posted in Blog
Tagged with: chiropractors
, chronic pain
, physical therapy
, preventative health
Imagine handing the keys of a finely tuned, bright red Porsche 911 to a 16 year old boy, first time driver and saying have fun! Now imagine telling him 15 years later, after he has been in a few accidents, scratched the paint and destroyed the clutch that he should have driven more carefully because this is the only car he will ever own for the rest of his life, that he will now have to go for regular tune ups and will probably have to get an artificial clutch and a titanium tire sometime in the next 30 years. Oh yeah and your shocks will get worse and worse every year. I hope you had enough fun driving in the first 15 years to make the next 40 years worthwhile! Sorry I didn’t teach you to drive better!
We watch our kids struggle to reach the gas pedal for years then blindly let them grind the gears of their own bodies through their adolescence. We put them into sports in key developmental years that unknowingly teach them how to move a particular way and may mold their posture for the rest of their lives. We tell them to stand up straight with little context of what that means and we start binding their feet with stiff little shoes before they can even walk.
Children are resilient, moldable little sponges that should be given some direction and opportunity to become good drivers in their own bodies. The trouble is that most parents aren’t particularly good drivers and their kids think that they are invincible until they reach their mid twenties.
Babies can move, but very little of it is intentional. Most of their movement is created by a series of reflexes that move an entire limb as one unit. The back extensor muscles develop before the abdominals as the baby figures out how to lift its head up and arch its back. Read More
Posted in Blog
, New Moms
Tagged with: aging
, motor learning
Who taught you how to sit? I’m guessing nobody, you probably just figured out how to do it by trial and error when you were a baby. You learned how to stay upright and eventually not fall over while resting on your butt; that was a major milestone when you were 8 months old, but you haven’t been given much credit for it later in life, have you? Unfortunately, it’s later in life that you are going to need to be good at it, because chances are you are going to be spending multiple hours a day staring at a computer screen. It is time you learned how to sit properly.
*Movements and postures demonstrated well in the video at the end of this post
Our bodies are built to deal with the vertical load of gravity, but at the same time are inherently lazy when it comes to holding everything up properly. We have a tendency to get engrossed in what is visually in front of us with little regard to how we have positioned our bodies to allow our eyes to see what we want to see. Your brain has a head righting reflex that tries to keep your head looking straight forward in the easiest way possible; unfortunately this usually comes at the expense of your neck and back.
The goal of sitting properly is to effectively vertically stack your torso and head on top of your pelvis and hips in a nice gentle S-curve. The odds of you doing this properly are stacked against you for a few reasons. First, most people have one, two or three of the following: forward head posture, an overly braced lower torso, and/or really flexible or really stiff hips. Second, most chairs are not designed very ergonomically and promote slouching more than support. Read More
- Chest up, shoulders back and down is the best posture
Most people think of posture as simply the need to keep your chest up and your shoulders back and down. Sounds like a simple feat right?! Then why will most people admit that they think they have bad posture? The answer to that is because good posture is not a simple thing, it is actually a learned, coordinated skill that encompasses the whole body. We are what we repeatedly do and our posture is a reflection of our childhood, our sports, our jobs, our emotions and our attitudes.
There is a continuum of flexibility and mobility among the population. Some people are naturally very loose jointed and hypermobile while others are compressed and stiff as a board. Where you end up on the spectrum seems to be partly genetic and partly personality. The people that fall in the middle or the average/normal people tend to have the least pain and injury problems. The further a person strays in either direction from the average the more and more posture, movement and pain problems they tend to develop. There is not one perfect posture for everybody, but there is a norm that we should all be trying to achieve no matter which side of normal we are on.
“Stiff as a board” “Normal” “Loosey-goosey”
Our bodies are brilliantly built to deal with gravity as a constant downward force, unfortunately most people don’t know how to use their bodies properly or efficiently and end up with muscle imbalances, pain and dysfunction. Posture should be looked at as a life skill not a genetic trait we can blame on our parents. A very basic understanding of anatomy and biomechanics can save people a lot of grief throughout life. Read More
Posted in Blog
, Low Backs
, Mid Backs
Tagged with: ergonomics
, low back pain
, physical therapy