“If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid”
– Internet quote incorrectly attributed to Einstein
“If you judge your clients’ movement competency to that of a gymnast, every one of them will be ‘dysfunctional’.”
– I just made that up.
“If you judge your clients’ movement competency to that of a gymnast [or insert favourite social media movement guru/principle/practice which supports your own personal interest and confirmation bias and], you’re setting everyone one of them up for failure”
– That’s mine too.
Pavlov’s dog was conditioned to salivate at the sound of a bell. Children are conditioned to urinate before bed and leaving the house. Adults are conditioned with beliefs and behaviours which prevent them from enjoying life. Yes, we Physiotherapists are doing that!
As a new-grad Physio I followed the assessment script I was given. If hip internal rotation was limited, that was a risk factor that needed to be addressed. If bending forward caused low back pain the client had a problematic disc and I would show them with real-time ultrasound how their transverse abdominus wasn’t firing correctly and get them on a program of active rehab using the Pilates equipment. Using something called a ‘combined elevation test’ I would compare shoulder range against that of a swimmer, which I would use as a rationale [create fear of injury and/or dysfunction] to justify treating their back and shoulders and selling them a half foam roller.
There is something valid in each of these examples but not in the way I was applying them. I didn’t know any better at the time and wasn’t actively keeping myself up to date with the science, trusting in my peers’ tutelage.
If I was interviewing my 2012 self for a job now, I’d be telling me to go back to Uni and start again!
This image is of 16yr old Canadian swimming gold medallist Penny Oleksiak. Comparing the shoulder function of the average adult to an elite swimmer is like expecting them to be able to do the splits. The only reason they can do these ‘abnormal’ things with their body parts is that they’ve been training them consistently for years, several hours every day. If the average person replaced their hours spent sitting with stretching and strengthening they would function entirely differently.
What are you being measured against?