At the end of each year, I always try to personally reflect on what I had learned over the course of the year. “Learned” may not always be the most accurate word, as this list usually contains things that I have adapted, tweaked, or refined, in addition to learned. I find that this is both a great personal tool to assess growth as well as establish new goals for the following year.
So here is my list of some things that I learned in 2012.
Assessment is More Important Than Treatment
I have spent A LOT of time reflecting this year of how to best enhance my assessment process. I’ve looked into as many assessment “systems” that I could find from all over the world. As our understanding of human function continues to improve, it seems like movement assessment systems are becoming very popular. I talked earlier about how a proper assessment and reassessment process is one of the most important things we need to do. If we aren’t reassessing our patients’ and clients’ limitations after our programs, than why are we even working with them? How do we know what is working, and what isn’t?
It seems that most of the movement assessment systems I have looked into place heavy emphasis on mobility and symmetry, and I must say that this is what I feel may be the most limiting quality of these systems. Specifically, if you don’t have a system in place to assess alignment first, then assessing movement is limited and even sometimes inaccurate.
To me, this is next phase of assessment we need to conquer – properly assessing alignment. I recently discussed the importance of alignment when considering the scapula and how alignment influences how we should be stretching.
In my search for the holy grail of assessment skills, I have used and adapted pieces of many systems, and I encourage you to do the same. Everyone is different and not every system is a fit for us all. I for one, don’t like to rely on just one tool, and prefer to combine what I have learned from many different people and schools of thoughts.
It’s Not All Just About Technical Skills
Most of us can all likely say that we are guilty of focusing too much on enhancing our technical skills and knowledge, while neglecting developing some of our other much needed skill sets. I stated this recently in an article where I summarized some of the great qualities of experts in our fields, but I really do feel like our education process should include developing some of these qualities.
Realistically, we all work in a service industry and are providing a product to a consumer. To deliver this as effectively as possible, it takes far more than knowledge. It takes the ability to connect with people to truly enhance what we do.
We Need to Work Muscles in 3D
This is a really simple thought process, but something that I tried to focus on more recently. I have heard quite a bit lately that exercises designed to isolate a movement and work on muscle strength are not “functional” and thus not worth performing. I couldn’t disagree more, especially when a specific muscle has been shown to be weak or inhibited. The efficacy of simple strengthening exercises has been well documented. My shoulder patients are going to perform sidelying external rotation if the infraspinatus is weak. It is going to be hard to enhance a poor movement patterns if muscle weakness is part of the deficiency.
However, I believe that using isolated movements is just the beginning of our programming. Once strength is improved, the next step is to now work on strength of the muscle in three dimensions, or 3D, to train a better movement pattern. What does this mean? Think of the function of each muscle in every plane of motion. Yes, there are prime movements for each muscle, but each muscle has a role in all three planes of motion.
This is the next step that I progress to prior to jumping to just “functional” exercises. Here is my sequence:
Isolated Movement –> 3D Movement –> Functional Movement
The hips are a great example, and there are many examples of functional glute exercises that utilize this concept. Try to think of each muscle and how it functions in all 3 planes of motion, then work 3D exercises into your programming.
Online Education is Officially My Go To Learning Resource
Over the course of the last decade, online education has really taken off. I have always been a fan and supporter, but I think for the first time I now believe that online education is now officially my go to learning resource. I still attend seminars and conferences, as the hands on component and networking is always important. However, I now feel that this is the supplemental component, and that online education is my primary means of education.
I feel this way because we are now able to learn SO MUCH more with amazing content at our fingertips 24/7. Realistically, unless you live in a major city or are willing to travel to one, it is hard to engage in learning from a wide variety of experts unless you embrace online education. And speaking from the experience of an author, by the time you read a book or journal article, the information is already outdated.
That is one of the primary reasons that I think RehabWebinars.com and my Inner Circle are so valuable. You can sit down and digest a brief bit of currently relevant information and apply it to your tool box immediately. I love watching a 30 minute webinar at lunch or reading a new article while I am waiting somewhere.
Really, our ability to learn is only limited by how much effort we want to put into it. I challenge everyone reading this to try this sequence of self-directed learning that I have been following myself with just an iPad:
- Have one book to read that is NOT related to our clinical skills, work on your other skill sets, I try to read 1-2 per month. HINT: You’ve probably figured it our by now, but most books like this have about 20% content and 80% stories to strengthen the content. I don’t need the fluff, I read fast and get through more books this way.
- Watch one webinar a week. Subscribe to a resource that has a diverse amount of topics that you can digest quickly, like RehabWebinars.com. That way you can vary the topics but whatever is on your mind that week or whoever you have on the schedule that day.
- Read a couple of websites a day while drinking your morning coffee, eating lunch, or unwinding in bed. I usually spend 10 minutes a day doing this and staying on top of what is been published on the internet. Click here to learn my system of staying current.
If you follow this system, you’ll read about 12 books, watch 52 webinars, and stay on top of all the new content being published each day on the internet. Keep going to seminars and conferences, but implement this and you’ll set yourself apart very quickly.
OK, so that is what I learned in 2012, what did you learn?