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-Improved Quality of Movement = Improved Quality of Life-

Posted Nov 27 2012 12:00am

“We fix the obvious problems others seem to ignore.” – James Dyson, the founder of the vacuum manufacturer Dyson

I am currently re-reading Evan Osar’s most recent book, “Corrective Exercise Solutions to Common Hip and Shoulder Dysfunction.

Why am I re-reading it? Well, because in typical Sarah fashion I initially dove into it and basically “read” it at warp speed. Now I am going back and taking more time to absorb it.


I have been a fan of Osar’s work since 2005, when I first read his articles on PTontheNet.

“Somewhat-lengthy but important” side note: back then, I was way very outspoken and quick to generalize, lol, as we all are in our twenties. I had recently moved to Baton Rouge from Austin. A big part of my decision to leave that amazing city was the fact that I felt trapped and very unhappy in my job. You see, I had taken a short veer off my usual path as a fitness professional, and had gone against my gut instinct. I was getting a salary (which was a first for me, as I had always gotten paid in the inconsistent manner we personal trainer s get paid), and I also got benefits (again, a first for me, as I had always had to pay for my own insurance, and still do today). This all sounds great, right! Well, it came at the expense of my moral fiber.

You see, I was working as a “chiropractic assistant” for a “doctor” who basically brainwashed his patients and sought to get everyone on a “corrective care” plan for life. Everything that he told patients was scripted. I was in charge of developing x-rays and drawing lines on them to show people how jacked-up their spines were. I was also in charge of “therapeutic exercise,” which in most cases involved having out-of-shape people sit on an exercise ball, do useless rotator cuff exercises, and lots and lots of cervical traction. I got to know patients who had made progress, and the doctor always seemed to flaunt them as a means of proving his “care” worked. i began to feel like I was being forced to mislead people. This caused me a great deal of anxiety and as I started putting the pieces together, I realized I did not belong there.

After I woke up from the brief, initial “I kinda believe that this stuff works” fog that I had been in, I started to ask questions. Most of the time, my boss seemed a little thrown off that I was wanting answers, and his reply was always, “because it works.” I asked to see scientific studies. I asked him how come he didn’t just stretch the tight muscles and strengthen the weak ones instead of constantly cracking patients’ backs (well, I didn’t ask it in that way, lol). The final nail in the coffin came when I went with the doc and his wife (also the office manager) to a weekend “practice building” workshop in Arizona. It was during this workshop where my eyes were truly opened to the shady tactics these guys use in “getting paid what they are due.” The lecture guys were huckster-types who told the group that they could legally double-bill insurance for services! I could not believe I was there and it made me feel sick that I was associated with this bullsh*t. I basically came back from that weekend and told my boss “I quit!”

So, what does all that have to do with this blog post? My opinion of chiropractors was severely low and although I have opened up my mind a bit since then, I tend to view the profession as less-than-desirable. Chiros have a very high default rate on their student loans, many are forced to utilize unethical practice-building methods, and almost all of it seems like voodoo to me. Please note that I am in no way saying ALL chiropractors are bad…just a great deal of them.

“As to methods there may be a million and then some, but principles are few. The man who grasps principles can successfully select his own methods. The man who tries methods, ignoring principles, is sure to have trouble.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

With that being said, I totally dig Evan Osar and what he has contributed to the educational side of the fitness industry. His attention to movement quality and the importance of proper progression fascinates me. He believes that most of our colleagues are ignoring proper breathing, progressions, and the education, empathy, and empowerment our clients deserve.

“Our job, as well as our challenge as fitness and health care professionals, is to help clients and patients recognize the intimate relationship between how they move and what happens to their body as a direct result of how they move. Regardless of genetics, trauma, disease, past experiences, thoughts, beliefs, and previous learned patterns, we can help our patients and clients create positive changes. This is not to suggest that someone with multiple sclerosis or just having suffered a stroke will ever return to a high level function they had prior to the disease. But it is not up to us to place restrictions or limitations upon them. Our job is to teach and empower them to regain their strength, stability, movement awareness, and confidence so that they can achieve the highest level of function they are able to, given their current state. Empower them to challenge their current level with the faith that the nervous system is capable of so much more than it is often given credit for.” – Evan Osar

Osar states that “while there are many methods, there are only three simple principles that apply to the rehabilitation, training, and/or conditioning of the human movement system.
The principles are: improve respiration, achieve optimal joint centration, and integrate these activities into fundamental movement patterns.”

He further states that “the value and effectiveness of your method is only proportional to the ability of that method to accomplish the three principles while simultaneously reducing the client’s risk of injuring themselves. If your method does this, then it is the best method to use with the client. Please note that I did not say injury prevention, as it is impossible to prevent all injuries. However, the goal is always to reduce the client’s risk by teaching them how to breathe better, improve their ability to centrate, and perform fundamental movement patterns.”

I am going to wrap up this post with some eye-opening statistics Osar listed, stating “the prime focus of this book is to present strategies and techniques that can be utilized to improve human movement. Why the focus on movement?”

• The United States spends approximately $2.1 trillion on health care each year or 16% of its gross domestic product. This is, by far, greater than any of the other developed countries, yet the United States ranks 50th out of 224 countries in life expectancy.

• Americans spend approximately $216 billion on prescription medications every year – a large majority of this cost is related to treating musculoskeletal symptoms.

• Arthritis and other musculoskeletal conditions are cited as the most common causes of chronic disabilities in working age adults. While there are only approximately 18 cases out of every 1,000 persons between the ages of 18 and 44, the number of individuals experiencing these conditions rises remarkably to 56 between the ages of 45 and 54, and to 99 for those between the ages of 55 and 64.

• There are nearly 157 million visits to doctor’s offices for musculoskeletal conditions at a cost of $215 billion per year.

• The obesity rate for individuals between 18 and 64 years of age has more than doubled in the period 1971 to 2005.

And if you think this epidemic is limited to just adults, check out these statistics on the state of the health of our children:

• Nearly half of all injuries in children participating in sports are the direct result of overuse, and the majority of these occurred not while they were playing their sport but rather while they were at practice.

• According to the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System for the year 2001, there were approximately 14,000 injuries related to football. While this makes sense because of the aggressive and contact-nature of the sport, there were almost 700,000 injuries in basketball.

• There has been a 150% increase in physical education class injuries between the years of 1997 and 2007, with most of these being sprain/strain-type injuries. • Nearly one-third of children are obese.

In closing, I leave you with this:

“Our society is moving from production and manufacturing that was representative of the United States economy at the turn of the 20th century, to a predominantly service-driven economy in the 21st century that is characterized by more time sitting in front of a computer, in meetings, or on the phone. Coupled with increasing technology and automation that further limits how much we need to move, together with a nutrient-depleted, overly processed, and genetically-modified diet, this creates a human architecture that is far from capable of handling any increases in demands that may be imposed upon it.” – Evan Osar

See why I dig him?! :)

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