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Salient Differentiator

When titling this blog I intentionally created the least attractive title that would describe the contents. I did this because I believe that those who care about this topic, are also the ones not attracted to "catchy titles" that are often referred to as click-bait. Don't get me wrong, as a pawn in the internet pond, I certainly love click-bait.

Let's get into it.

My personal belief is that human beings are complex, anti-fragile, adaptable beings that can most accurately be described as absorbent. Absorbent to the knowledge of the world around them that allows them to constantly change and adapt to maneuver their environment most energy efficiently and safely.

My principles, both in life and in work, are as follows

1) First understand, then be understood.

2) Empower others.

3) Find success/happiness.


1) By taking the time to shut my mouth and listen to someone else I have learned an unimaginable amount of information. Almost unfathomable to my high school teachers who certainly must believe I am and always will be a loud mouth, distractible, critic who couldn't accept a grain of salt from another's hands if I were seasoning a filet mignon. I learned early in my career as a health care provider that listening is without a single doubt, the most important tool we have in our tool belts. Without the skill of listening we are watered down textbooks research articles and guess what, no one could care less what you know. Unless, they know how much you care. How cliche, but how true. This has been immensely important in my personal life as well. I am a perpetrator of the let-me-get-a-damn-word-out style of conversing (I blame my equally as difficult siblings). I now understand why it is important to listen, and more importantly, how to do so. I heard on a podcast once that if you listen to a patient (or friend, or family member, or girlfriend, or first date or boss or literally anyone) they will tell you exactly what they need from you. No guess work, no magic, just two ears and one very closed mouth.

2) If I ever hear an educated health care practitioner say to a patient you have herniated discs, there is nothing I can do for you, or your arthritis is bone-on-bone, there is no option but surgery, or my favorite, your spine is out of alignment, I will fight them. To the death. What a bunch of nocebic nonsense that provides zero benefit and maximal harm. How in the world is that considered treatment (under patient education billing code...) let alone within the standards of the Hippocratic Oath. The research thats out there to say that exercise interventions positively impact these "unfixable" issues has been produced and is available in mass quantity. People who are not educated to the meaning of degenerative disc disease, bulging disc, osteoarthritis, stenosis, should not be slapped with the diagnosis and sent back into the world to ponder their doom. If you are a patient reading this, THAT DIAGNOSIS IS NORMAL. At 26 years of age, I have osteoarthritis of the hips and spine. I still do Crossfit, I did Camp Gladiator yesterday, I run (once in a while), I have little to no pain, and I don't let a diagnosis stop me from doing anything. Unless I get mono, then I will relax to savor my spleen. What empowering others means to me is providing them the knowledge that life is a series of challenges, if you are not prepared to handle them then ask for help. If you are prepared to handle them (say because you asked for help and now feel ready) then HANDLE THAT SHIT.

3) Who knows what it feels like to be miserable. Do you realize that the only reason you can feel miserable is because you have, at one time or another, felt not miserable. My example, to avoid being too open and honest on the internet, is of a time I broke my hand. Luckily I am left handed and my right hand was the fractured one, but I thought wow, this is absolutely miserable. My favorite past time was basketball, couldn't play. Carrying my book bag up a Vermont hill to class made my hand throb every day. I would constantly roll onto my cast while sleeping and think that there was a live animal in the bed and react accordingly. I hated it. I found in this experience that hating something so imposing, yet so out of my control was liberating. I had no choice but to drink some delicious toughen-up and get over it. And now I have a wonderful PT joke! Patient: "Yeah you know, I am feeling pretty good but I went for a run and now my calves are super sore." Me: "Oh alright, well have you tried stretching, hydrating, eating some more protein, or possibly some toughen-up?" [Blank face from the patient] It was worth it. I also find this principle to be key when treating patients who have longstanding conditions and it has revolutionized my treatment accessories. No I do not mean a fancier watch or all IBM blue shirts, I mean the GOALS board. At the initial evaluation my patients convey legitimate, actionable, reasonable goals. Every treatment session they go up on the board. Now my patients understands WHY I am making their adductors cramp and WHY they need to shake and bake and sweat. To achieve that goal, right there on that whiteboard. (Secretly it also helps me to choose activities based on specificity of transfer principles but that's proprietary to HFAP, LLC)


As a physical therapist I believe that it is my duty to understand the human body and its physical attributes, systems, and behaviors at the absolute deepest level. I often refer to this as biomechanics but it goes so much deeper than that. Through study with the Postural Restoration Institute #PRI, reading authors such as Charles Duhigg, Ray Dalio, Brett Bartholomew, Stephen Covey, Jocko Willink and Leif Babin, Tony Robbins, Ryan Holiday Simon Sinek, Daniel Goleman, Carol Dweck and countless resources both primary (research) and textbooks on human function and performance (shameless plug, it's my blog after all) I have developed an incredible understanding of how the human brain seeks energy efficiency through completion of somatic and autonomic nervous system activity. As primitive beings we seek the path of least resistance and as physical structures the path least resisted is not always pain-free. Building tolerance for resistance is vital for improving the movement quality and sensory perception of our physical structures. What's that mean? It means use your damn body in many different ways, if it hurts a little bit rest, recover, and do it again. If it hurts a lot or won't stop hurting, go see a doctor and find out WHY.


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