Case Studies & Movement Snobs
I’m constantly shocked and amazed by the body. More so by people.
The way things work. What works. How it works. The fact that for how much we know about workings we know far far less all the time. Amazed.
I ran across a study the other day from 2005. In it a group of roughly a couple hundred participants with osteoarthritic knee pain were blindly divided into two groups. One group received multimodal physical therapy - manual therapy, exercise, ultrasound, all the stuff. The other group received placebo treatments - fake ultrasound, non-effective laser treatment, etc.. The treatments lasted six weeks and they reported back for twenty-four weeks. Researchers found that both groups improved. Not only did they improve but the progress was equal in both groups lasting through the twenty-four weeks. Meaning everyone’s pain decreased whether they got the real stuff or fake stuff, and it lasted. The researchers concluded that patients just BEING WITH therapists was the “healing” factor. It didn’t matter what was being done, just that patients felt seen and cared for.
Entering the rabbit hole of Google Scholar I came across another study from 2015 which reviewed thousands and correlated twenty independent studies finding that pain is more associated with body illusion than it is biomechanics. Researchers found that pain is often associated with parts of the body that our brains believe to be larger / more pronounced than they actually are. It’s like the way the brain pictures the body is askew and accordingly our bodies experience a felt sense of pain in those areas. Basically more often than not there’s nothing actually “wrong” with a person other than the way they think about their self. There’s nothing physical to fix. Researchers used mirrors and virtual reality accompanied by self-massage and simulated movement to re-calibrate the brain thereby decreasing pain.
Then today I’m driving to work and I hear an NPR interview about a study run at Stanford University regarding how receiving genetic information can alter physiologic outcomes. Researchers ran base tests with two-hundred participants testing their reaction to treadmill exercises and satiation when given a specific meal. They then tested for genes that make a person better or worse at exercise due to lung function, and genes that indicate when a person is more or less satiated by a meal. Researchers blindly gave some participants their correct results and others were given false results. Regardless of actual genetic markers the next exercise and meal tests reflected what the participant had been told. Those that were told they’d be better or worse at exercise were. Those that were told they’d be more or less satiated were. The results weren’t just psychological either. They were physiologic changes dependent solely upon what a trusted person (the researcher) had stated was TRUE.
The way we perceive ourself (our relationship with self) … the things we’re told about our self … the things we believe to be true about our self and others … directly affect our experiences.
The things you say as a teacher … a care-giver … a steward of the healing process … a peer … a friend … directly impact, and potentially change, people.
Be impeccable with your words, friends.
There’s an odd thread of snobbery I’ve witnessed through so many exercise, movement, and therapeutic modalities. Often emerging as one person’s taste or preference depicted as superior to all differing opinions and beliefs. As if there is one right way to move to the demise of all others. Informed by what I’ve experientially found to be true within my practice and based on … well … science … 2019 is the year we give up being movement snobs, empathize, and try on a humbly curious lifestyle.
Showing up with humility allows us the space to get curious about each student’s needs. Not in the old way of thinking about it: How are they moving their leg wrong / where are they weak / how can I fix that body … but rather with the savvy holistic viewpoint: how can my work positively affect the whole person?
What if this is the year you invite people into your practice?
I have a feeling you're thinking … I’m already doing that. I market. I have clients. I have a following. I have a brand! I do the good work!!!! Blahblahblah. (eyes literally rolling off your face)
What I’m advocating is that we all stop standing opposed to things in our industry and figure out what we each stand for. What inspires you? How does that show up in your practice? What do you have to teach and share that creates a space for your students to learn and discern? What do you have to say that invites your peers into your world? How can your work help people connect? Then, share it. Share it graciously. Share it generously.
I’m just gonna say it: I take offense to people dignifying the title SNOB.
I take offense to people shaming exploration, creativity, and outside the box-ness. It’s harmful to the very foundations of culture and progress. It’s intolerant. It’s not even playfully cute. The narrative that one thing is the correct, or better, thing has again and again not only been proven fallacy but also detrimental to our relationships with self and others. It’s the basis of bigotry. More directly it’s impeding your students’ progress and ability to self-regulate.
It’s time to invite people into your experience. Acknowledging it’s just that … YOUR experience. Your unique findings and history, correlated happenings that create your work. Things that are valuable to you. Things that inspire you. Things that one human can share with another human to create a caring and compassionate experience. Ya’ know, the kind of experience science has proven to elicit healing and improve body image.
More of us are now interested in work that respects and acknowledges people. Work that addresses how we use our bodies to communicate our experiences. Work that creates value around feeling and empathy and relationships. Movement experiences that cultivate self-awareness in students and empowers them to practice healthy habits through exploration. I will always gravitate toward practices that enrich human kindness. I will always champion caring. I’m not alone.
2019 is an invitation to explore others’ and explicitly share your work.
If you need someone to show up for you … tag me.
If you’d like someone to share it with … tag me.
I’m interested in your work, and I have a pack of friends that would also love to support you.
Imagine literally shedding the label of snob (just trashing it like hot garbage) … letting go of arrogant assumptions … and putting on a fresh identity like curious empowerer.
Then do it.
by James Crader