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.

 

 

References

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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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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Advanced Injury Risk Tool for Athletes - The JVAPP

Monday, May 01, 2017
Have you or someone you care about ever experienced an injury and thought "Could this have been prevented?" With the Joint Ventures All-Season Performance Program (JVAPP), you can help prevent injuries! The JVAPP is a movement assessment tool that measures how your body moves and compares you to national averages to assess your risk for an injury.  It can be used if you have been injury-free or after an injury has occurred to assess the potential for re-injury.  By knowing your risk for injury, you can take steps to bulletproof your body to be more resilient to what life and sports throw at you!
 

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Rest and Recovery

Friday, November 06, 2015

It is commonly understood that there are a myriad of benefits to participating in a regular exercise routine, however without rest days incorporated in to your routine, you can actually put your body at risk of injury. Ensuring you have a rest day between strengthening workouts, does not mean you need to take a day to lay on the couch eating potato chips.  It means, for example, if you are focusing on upper body strengthening one day, the next day could involve either aerobic exercise only and/or lower body strengthening. 

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Severity of concussions among younger athletes

Thursday, October 29, 2015
With high-school and college sports in full swing, it’s time to think about concussion recovery and getting back on the playing field. Concussions occur with a direct or indirect blow to the head and lead to physical, emotional, and cognitive changes in an athlete. These changes can be long-term if the athlete does not take enough time to recover and allow the brain to rest before returning to sport.  

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Vestibular Rehabilitation

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

What is vestibular rehabilitation therapy? Vestibular rehabilitation therapy (VRT) is an exercise-based program designed to promote central nervous system compensation for inner ear deficits. VRT can help with a variety of vestibular problems, including benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) and the unilateral or bilateral vestibular hypofunction (reduced inner ear function on one or both sides) associated with labyrinthitis and vestibular neuritis. Usually individuals that have medical management with little or no success may benefit from VRT. 

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Weekend Warrior

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

It’s Tuesday night and you just got home from work. You planned out your week Sunday night but for some reason, the schedule did not sync well enough to your brain. You already seemed to miss Monday’s workout at the gym, and today you had to go food shopping because there is nothing to eat in your fridge- therefore missing your Tuesday gym session. 

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Making Your Workstation Work for You

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

When most of our waking hours involve sitting at a computer and plugging away at the keyboard, it is extremely important to make sure that the way in which you are sitting in the chair and in contact with the computer is ideal for you.   There are a few key points to keep in mind when looking into the perfect sitting posture.  All of us are different heights, so all of us are going to need different adjustments to accommodate for this variance.  

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The Pilates Jumpboard

Monday, February 10, 2014

Since February is Heart Health Awareness Month, many of us are looking to add more cardio to our exercise routines, but you may be sick of the treadmill and exercise bike.  It’s time to get creative and look for other options to jump start your fitness in 2014.   

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