I admit I used to write this in patients’ charts as part of my assessment of “what was wrong” with them. Over the years and especially most recently, I finally figured out – that statement is false and can be damaging.
A few weeks ago, I traveled to Denver to attend the biggest physical therapy conference in the world. There, along with 20,000 other therapists, we soaked up the latest research and treatment techniques through peer presentations, talks, and special events. I posted snippets of conference content on Instagram (follow me @drmeganbrown if you like all things Alexandria and wellness) but I heard from many of you that you wanted me to share more.
Here’s my number one take away: We are not broken. This epiphany from one presentation on lumbo-pelvic pain opened my eyes to this notion: We (PTs) need to stop telling people they’re unstable. When we diagnose an instability in the body (spine, pelvis, shoulder) we pull this notion into patients’ heads that they are broken.
“You need to stabilize your spine.”
“Your hips need stability, then you’ll be pain free.”
“Your core is not stabilizing your back, that’s why you’re injured.”
You are not broken. You don’t have to go through life feeling that you are broken. There are talented people in the physical therapy profession and at Mind the Mat who can guide and empower you to improve your function and live life to the fullest by moving your body daily.
Change the vocabulary to form a more patient-empowering statement…
“Let’s recruit your muscles and coordinate their activation to improve your function.”
What’s your take home from this post? Where else are you hearing this messaging? Do you have another health provider who could be influencing long lasting pain problems with specific messaging? Are you fearful of moving/exercising/living a certain way because you’re afraid you will further “break” something? Deep down in your heart of hearts, what are you most worried about?
When we first opened Mind the Mat 12 years ago, I taught a class called Restorative Pilates. In this class, we welcomed people to exercise in spite of any injuries or mobility limitations. A young woman joined one day who was scared to death to move. She said, “My doctor told me to never do squats.” I paused and gave a bewildered yet light response: “Well how the heck do you stand up and sit down?” We laughed and she moved freely and beautifully throughout the rest of class.
You are not broken.
Mind the Mat Pilates & Yoga was founded in 2008 by Megan Brown, Doctor of Physical Therapy and Polestar Certified Practitioner of Pilates for Rehabilitation and Sara VanderGoot, Nationally Certified Massage Therapist and Registered Yoga Teacher (e-RYT 200, RYT 500). In their private practices as physical therapist and massage therapist respectively Megan and Sara observed that many of their clients were coming in with similar needs: relief for neck and shoulder tension and low back pain as well as a desire for more flexibility in hips and legs, stability in joints, and core strength.
Together Megan and Sara carefully crafted a curriculum of Pilates and yoga classes to address needs for clients who are pregnant, postpartum, have injuries or limitations, who are new to Pilates and yoga, and for those who are advanced students and are looking for an extra challenge.