The Joint Ventures' Blog

A Weight-Neutral Approach to Physical Therapy

Friday, March 12, 2021

Have you ever gone to a healthcare professional for help and left the office feeling worse than when you went in due to the practitioner blaming your discomfort solely on your weight?

People of larger body size frequently report similar experiences.

Visiting a healthcare provider doesn’t have to be an anxiety-ridden experience. There is a more inclusive, accepting way to treat patients of all shapes and sizes. Health At Every Size (HAES) is a health initiative/model that is body-inclusive. It takes the focus of health from being weight/size-centered and shifts the focus to making healthy choices based on internal body cues. Interestingly, research over the past 20 years has consistently shown that health measures (blood pressure, cholesterol levels) can be improved with healthy behaviors regardless of whether there is a change in weight. It reframes lifestyle from dieting and/or excessively exercising, to listening to internal hunger/fullness cues, and reframing exercise to be joyful movement instead of something that you must do even if you dislike it. By doing this, people tend to become much more consistent with food intake as well as participation in exercise which in turn contributes to improved health.1

Media and societal beliefs have created and perpetuated stereotypes about people of size that are simply untrue which contribute to feelings of shame associated with larger body size. These stereotypes carry over into the medical community. Frequently, people of higher weights go to the doctor, and are told that everything from high blood pressure to a hangnail is because of the extra weight they carry. They are then given a prescription for weight-loss and are sent on their way. This "medical advice" is internalized by patients as, for example, "I'm lazy; I don't care about my health; it's my own fault that I have *insert medical condition*". People leave the doctor's office feeling despondent and deeply ashamed of themselves with no new or helpful information, so they avoid seeking healthcare. What is worse is that when they do seek out care, because healthcare professionals tend to blame so many ailments on weight, they're often misdiagnosed or dismissed which can lead to worsening health conditions or even death.

I have a personal connection to HAES. I am a larger-bodied physical therapist who has been following its principles and practicing intuitive eating for 2-3 years. I have since been able to stop the vicious restrict/binge cycle of disordered eating, and have become consistent with movement multiple times a week. I now enjoy exercise because I view it as a way to give my body the movement it craves instead of viewing it as a punishment for its size/shape. I have also experienced doctors giving me a blanket prescription of weight-loss for seemingly any ailment. It can be very frustrating and demoralizing, and I have often avoided seeking treatment in fear of ridicule or shame.

This is why I value incorporating what I have learned through practicing HAES and intuitive eating in my personal life into my treatment of patients. I am someone who people of all shapes and sizes can come to without fear of judgement or prescription of weight-loss to solve whatever pain they may be having. As PTs we have the knowledge to modify exercises appropriately so that everyone can participate and benefit. I hope to be a source of support for people who have avoided seeking care in the past so that regardless of size, they can work feeling better in the body they have right now.

For my information on Physical Therapy and Health At Every Size, email our Fort Point PT, Molly Durigan.




1.Bacon L. In: Health at Every Size: the Surprising Truth about Your Weight. Dallas, TX: BenBella Books; 2010:167-169.


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Words Matter: The Importance of What We Hear, Say and Think

Friday, February 23, 2018

Words do matter, a lot. Language shapes the way we think and perceive our worlds, including our very own bodies and health. While the mind can seem separate from the body, it’s rather the opposite. Advancements in neuroscience research allow us to now confidently say, how we think, what we hear, and what we say can directly affect our health, pain, and function. 


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Hip Stability

Monday, January 29, 2018

People often exchange the terms "strength" and "stability" as if they are one and the same. That really is not true. It’s important to understand the differences between the two, as well as know how to improve both areas to create a better overall platform for performance. 

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Skating Safely

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Ice skating is a wonderful activity to take part in, especially as the cold winter months approach. But a few things need to be addressed before you hit the ice to ensure you have a good time and ice skate safely. First, you need to make sure you have proper balance standing on flat, level ground. On ice, your base of support is constantly moving and changing. Without proper balance, ice skating will present a new set of challenges for you that could potentially lead to injury. A good way to check your balance is to practice standing still on one foot for 5-10 seconds without disturbances.                                                         

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Text Neck

Monday, October 30, 2017

“Text Neck”, or the posture that you are in while using your smartphone, has increased in frequency as smartphones have become more prevalent. And, it's not just "texting"! We consume a massive amount of information via our digital devices via social media, news outlets, etc. This all can lead to an increase in orthopedic and health issues.


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Physical Therapy Specialties: TMJ Disorders, Pelvic Floor Health and Vestibular Therapy

Friday, September 29, 2017

Herniated discs, sprained ankles, and shoulder tendinitis are all diagnoses people think of as injuries that a physical therapist might treat. While these common musculoskeletal conditions do frequently require physical therapy, you may not be aware of some of these lesser known conditions within the scope of practice of a physical therapist:  

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Back To School Backpack Basics for Adults and Children

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Going back to school means loading up new text books, school supplies, lunch bags, gym clothes, and other gear. In this blog, we will discuss tips on how to maintain a healthy posture to, from, and during school.  

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Tennis Elbow

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Lateral elbow tendinopathy, commonly known as tennis elbow, is a common cause of elbow pain in men and women between the ages of 35 and 54. The source of pain from tennis elbow is localized degeneration of the common tendon that attaches the elbow to the muscles that extend (pull back) the wrist and hand. People with tennis elbow will most often have pain with gripping, particularly when lifting an object using a palm-down grip, and will report tenderness of the elbow. 

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Aquatic Therapy - What's all the splashing about?

Friday, June 30, 2017

I can’t emphasize enough to my patients that they need be proactive with their health - step up to the plate, ask lots of questions, get second opinions, and be curious about all your options.   If you are referred to physical therapy, and you are not successful on land (in the office setting), ask your physical therapist about aquatic physical therapy.  If you want to try it from the beginning of your physical therapy, bring it to your doctor’s attention or on the first day you start physical therapy.  It’s something to keep in mind, and possibly the approach that’s right for you.   

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Golf Game Not Up to Par?

Thursday, June 01, 2017

The Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) is an evidenced based organization that looks closely at the relationship between how the human body moves and the efficiency of the golf swing, termed the “Body-Swing Connection”. TPI was created in 2003 by Dr. Greg Rose and Dave Phillips along with 52 other members of their board of professionals, all with different experiences in fields of fitness, junior level development, medicine, golf, and power. Their main testing facility is located in Oceanside, California, but the research has spread worldwide through its teaching of certified professionals.  

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