Most people get their teeth checked 1-2 times a year during a dental cleaning so their dentist can make sure no issues are brewing that can cause big problems if left unchecked. Insurance companies cover it because they know the cost of the checkups (aka “cleanings” or “whitenings”) are a minor cost of maintaining good dental health and are far cheaper than the potential costs of major issues that could develop otherwise. We do two things with our teeth: chew and talk and they get this kind of attention to maintenance yet we do nothing of the sort with our bodies. Backpain and headaches will cause more pain, time off work and medical visits than anything else and are both completely preventable with regular maintenance. I haven’t heard of someone taking a week off work or being bedridden in a ton of pain, unable to walk because their teeth hurt. We need to re-frame how we look at our bodies and take the same approach as we do with our teeth.
Solution: A bi-annual MSK (muscoloskeletal) checkup
With the same system of getting regular scheduled checkups applied to our bodies, a competent physical therapist can screen your movement to let you know things that need to be addressed before they become problematic. Proper movement breaks down a long time (I’m talking years/decades) before pain or something like a rotator cuff tear or knee osteoarthritis start to develop. Spot a movement error before logging years and kilometers on your body and arthritis no longer becomes a “normal” part of aging.
MSK or muscluloskeletal means muscle, bone and joint. This is where most problems happen with our bodies. Family doctors are required to know so much information about the human body that their formal education in muscle/bone/joint anatomy and related disease is limited to detecting problems after they are already present. Healthcare should be about preventing problems from happening instead of spending loads of money correcting the problem after the fact. Instead of figuring out ways to get more joint replacements done lets focus on preventing joints from getting worn down to the point of needing replacement. Things need to change and a good start is incorporating a body checkup every 6 months to make sure you’re made aware of invisible problems before they become real issues.
Being painfree doesn’t mean you’re a functional human
Not having pain doesn’t mean your body is without problems. That’s both the beauty and the danger with how the human form has evolved. Its very good at covering up faulty patterns by compensating with less optimal patterns to keep you moving. Put it this way: if you spend your day without shoes on, hunting and foraging, building shelter and sleeping then you don’t need a checkup. Everyone else DOES. If you sit for more than a few hours a day and aren’t doing anything to reverse the effects that a chair has on your body you can guarantee you have imbalances and compensations present. What makes it worse is that by layering some exercise on top of those imbalances and compensations you’re accelerating the damage to your body on your way to pain and probably joint replacements. Stop dealing with problems after they develop and get your body checked.
What running with poor mechanics does to your knee joint. Completely preventable with a movement checkup and some guidance on running requirements for strength and mobility
Your body, your responsibility
One single person is in charge of making sure your body remains in good working order: YOU. Whether its deciding to have an MSK checkup or following through with the homework you are given to correct imbalances, YOU need to decide to buy in and be motivated to improving how your body works. It will require work, effort and a daily commitment to improvement but it pays bigtime in the long run.
Although you will be doing the work, you don’t have to go it alone. Finding a team of medical professionals that can help guide you on your journey to a painfree body is the first step to get you started and unfortunately not all of them are equally qualified for the job.
Not All Physiotherapy is the same
Unfortunately screening movement is not part of the physiotherapy curriculum in school (at least not to my knowledge) and unless you have a passion to become an expert on movement, most physiotherapists get stuck being experts at treating pain. Every therapist at optimize is trained beyond their formal education to understand the role movement plays in injury prevention and becoming painfree. Optimize therapists don’t treat pain, we treat movement dysfunction. Treating pain might work temporarily but it will never be an effective solution long term. That ultrasound machine or TENS machine isn’t doing much to help improve your squat pick something up from the ground with good mechanics so we eliminated the machines from our clinic.
Find a physical therapist that can take the time to work with you one on one and help you understand what proper movement looks like and how to progress towards it. A therapist that will teach you how to maintain your own body so you can escape the continual dependence on physio, chiro and massage therapists. It should be a standard among all therapists but it isn’t so work to find a good one – it literally makes the difference between success and failure.
-Treat your body better than your teeth and get it checked at least twice a year to make sure you’re moving properly
-Just because you don’t have pain doesn’t mean you don’t have issues developing
-Find a competent therapist that can screen your movement and help guide you on the path to better movement and healthy aging
Stop dealing with continuous injuries and nagging pain. Your body breaking down isn’t a “normal” part of aging, we simply need to change the way we think of treating pain. Ibuprofen isnt a breakfast food and the only way to age healthy and prevent injury is to take ownership of your body and take the steps needed to get on the right path.
Best of luck in your journey to better movement and a life free of pain and joint replacements