As health care professionals we have transitioned into a collaborative team with our own specialized areas to help the patient/client become their best self. However, among all the medical jargon and expert advice/opinions, sometimes it is lost in translation that YOU are part of this team, and ultimately the most important member. That means it is best for you to become specialized in knowing your body, because you live in it, we do not.
How do you become that specialist? As Gary Ward, author of ‘What the Foot’ states “don’t change your body, challenge it. Our society is finally coming to the realization that we are not static creatures, we are movers, and in order to move without pain, we need to have a better understanding of our bodies. There are approximately 360 joints and 700 muscles in the human body (among many other things), and you possibly have pain in one or more of them. Simple right? Focus on my knee since my knee hurts. It makes sense because that’s where the pain is, but sometimes you need to take a step back, or even two, to grasp the entire picture. I’ve just started working at One to One and have engulfed myself in reading books that examine this idea of meaningful movement where the entire body is involved. The idea behind this is that when you squat down to pick something up or are taking a leisurely stroll in the park, all 360 joints and 700 muscles have a role to play in helping those movements occur, not one. So if your therapist starts assessing your ankle, or neck for that hip or low back pain, don’t panic, they are beginning to look for those middle pieces of that 1000+ piece puzzle we call our bodies.
I challenge you to start this exploration process to better understand your body as more likely than not this has not occurred since you were first learning these movements as a toddler. Next time you are walking, move slow and try thinking about all the things that are going on to allow you to move forward. How does your ankle move? How does your hip move? Now break it down even further, where are you putting weight through your feet, feel where you are experiencing tension and tightness. Know what your body likes and dislikes, then challenge it. Why are you stopping me here? How come my pain starts when I do this but not this? It goes on and on, but the more you do this, the more you get to know your body, the more control you have over those 360 joints, and the better you will feel.
Ultimately, this post is to encourage you to put the power back into your hands. The best thing you can do is explore your body’s movements, what feels right, what does not and you will become that specialist. As well, this is meant to give you insight to ask your health care professionals to take a look at the entire system, especially if you’ve had multiple treatments with no results, or if you keep going back with the same issue time and time again. Ask them, if they think the way you walk or that stiff foot you’ve had for years is exacerbating your pain. If you ask these type of questions it leads to outside of the box (or joint) thinking and has greater potential for better results. So I end this by saying put the power back in your hands, explore your body, know your body, become your own specialist and begin to see the results you’ve been looking for.
A great article that talks more about body awareness ‘What the Foot’.
Tyler Dillman is a physiotherapist with One to One Wellness. Learn more about Tyler.