I have always been appreciative of health practitioners of all fields but in my opinion, physiotherapy is the most holistic treatment approach for the majority of mechanical problems. Since I was a child, I was always active but once I suffered a small injury that turned into something extremely debilitating and long lasting I realized that my goal is to become a competent Physiotherapist and my dream is teach prevention and rehabilitation strategies that will help everybody reduce the amount of dysfunction and pain they may develop throughout life. Our society is fast paced and it is easy to forget that our top priority is our health. Therefore, I hope that my experiences as a patient will help me connect and communicate with help me in my professional career as a hopeful physiotherapist.

I have harnessed an in-depth patient perspective from my share of dysfunction and debilitation. Having about seven years experience of self-discovery in recovery and rehabilitation, I believe that I can deliver a personal message on how to motivate yourself and develop a optimistic mind-set to never give up. This is extremely important because people can give up easily when they feel there is no clear explanation on how and what they feel. Most seemingly debilitating symptoms can actually be reduced to minimal or none with the correct mind-set and management strategies.

~Open Our Minds

I believe that there should be a balance between large and small class room sizes in all educational settings. But I personally wish for a qualitative approach towards academic education as opposed to a quantitative one. We all know that quality is greater than quantity but we also know that we live in a monetary world right? So coming from that perspective, let me tell you the pros and cons of having larger class sizes versus smaller ones.

Having larger class sizes allows a greater number of students to receive education while sacrificing the “effectiveness” of the knowledge gained by each student. Think about it like this: if there are 300 students, each of their brains will absorb a piece of the information that they have learned from a professor or teacher. In other words, the gain in educational soundness is like an “intense competition” between 300 unique and thriving brains. And with some luck maybe 1-10 students achieved quality education. However, on the positive side, since we have a vast world population we benefit by having larger class sizes because we can provide an opportunity to hopefully teach the majority. The monetary value will also be lower compared to a qualitative approach because there would be less of a need to upgrade and build new infrastructure, hire more professors and teachers, and purchase more and better academic equipment.

From the other side of the spectrum, I believe that having smaller class sizes will indefinitely produce sound education for current and aspiring students. Think about it like this: if there are 30 students, the amount of information distributed and received by each nervous system should be higher in quality as there is “less competition” between brains. And through this effective education we can and will produce more thinkers then doers and less doers then thinkers into society. As opposed to larger classroom sizes, the monetary value will definitely be greater to facilitate and manage smaller class sizes.

Therefore, since we live in a monetary world, we can only hope for and slowly change for more quality and less quantity in our educational settings. However, we should never forget and always strive to teach and educate in a qualitative manner in any appropriate setting. And on the plus side, most universities provide a qualitative ratio of professor to students at “higher course levels.” One more interesting note is that the class room sizes in elementary schools and universities/colleges should be switched around to produce the “ideal” educational settings.

~Open Our Minds

“Life is what you make it, but it’s up to you to take what you deserve.” – David So

Quote  —  Posted: June 28, 2014 in Uncategorized

Stiffness in relation to the body is something that you can describe with the point of just below rigidity. Mobility in this sense means to be supple and free. I have learned from my own experience about the importance of finding the balance between these two imperative aspects in maintaining physical capacity and especially recovery. Once we are injured or suffer any trauma in anyway and we do not possess the “best” treatment and rehabilitation knowledge, most of us will go down a path leading to a chronic vicious cycle involving stress and agony.

So back to the balance between stiffness and mobility. There is enormous support out there in both the literature and society that relaxation is much more beneficial than being stiff. However, for somebody who has had chronic debilitation for a long time, they may not know how much relaxation is ideal. For example, they feel relief from a single leg stance with total relaxation with the arch still pretty strong. BUT the brain and the tissues may be saying: “Oh that is a lot better, lets keep it this way for now.” Then after experiencing this relief, you start to realize that even though this relaxed state feels better than the “complete stiffness” you had before it is “still” causing you discomfort but of a different kind. Then you start to wonder why does it feel like this if “I am relaxed…?” 

Well the answer is that you have forgotten how to find the balance between being stiff and mobile. The brain and body is extremely smart as it keeps causing you discomfort as an alarm system to tell you that something is still off. So it is up to you to find the balance from being in one extreme – completely stiff (during period of recovery) into the other extreme – being completely relaxed. As Functional Movement Systems Gray Cook says: Once you gain some mobility go add some strength. This is the key to maintaining the balance between stiffness and mobility. Also, in a relaxed state as opposed to the stiff state, you will most likely be in a position which will reinforce your strength gains; but just not as ideal as in the balanced state.

Mobility = Towards suppleness and free.
Stability = Towards Stiffness

~Open Our Minds

An experts idea or opinion is not nearly as powerful as scientific evidence; but absolutely never forget that without experiences, science probably would never have existed.

From the quote above, somebody may ask what it means or wonder about the relationship between an experts opinion and science. I will attempt to address this from my own perspective. If you have studied at university or college or have been exposed to the concept of scientific support, then you will know what I am talking about. Almost everybody knows that there are five levels of scientific evidential support; but I will only focus on level 1 versus level 5. Think of level 1 as a very well peer-reviewed and vastly supported article and level 5 as an opinion coming from a regular person with learned innate experience. Before you pick a side or settle for both, think about how they are related to each other because I believe it is essential we understand it. We live in a world of “support” in which science is praised and honoured. We tend to forget the amount of education we can attain from an enriched opinion that can be sought from a regular person on the street. This may be cliché but if you look in every direction you can see at least one potential person with the knowledge that can make enormous changes. This is due to the personal experience that each of us have gone through at any point in our lives. But in today’s society there is less and less “intuition” for what makes sense. Therefore, if somebody tells you their “experts” opinion that makes all the sense in the world, it may still require scientific support for people to even begin to acknowledge. Do not get me wrong though, I absolutely love science because it gives us a sense of what works and what does not work. Science is an educational gift not only from one mind, but a combination of all intelligent minds; and we can never disapprove it. However, if you really think about it science can only educate us about what we “already” know. The world is forever-changing and it is not due to science but actually the personal opinions which will increase and improve our holistic knowledge. Both personal experiences and science have a place in the world even if the latter is praised and honoured a lot more. We just have to always remember that our education from the perspective of science will always be limited but our personal experiences are not. For example, we have heard many cases and incidents about doctors telling patients that they will never be able to walk or run ever again after a drastic accident; but we all know that this isn’t true at all. This is a perfect example of the limitations of academic education even at one of the highest levels (Medical doctors). To put this example into perspective, THESE individuals are the people who you wish to seek when you have been given depressing answers and they have the potential to teach you strategies beyond the limits of science. Why? Because they have unique “details” and their “opinions” alone may weigh more than all of science. This is the definition of in-depth education.

Final note: We should of course be cautious when it comes to following through with ideas and opinions because not all of them are good and acceptable for you; but if it makes sense it does not hurt to try. Never underestimate its potential to changing your life.

~Open Our Minds

Barefoot Benefits:

The type of shoes and how to decide on a pair of fitting shoes is probably the most important key to preserving healthy feet because in the modern society we inevitably have to wear shoes throughout our day. Aside from footwear, we should encourage kids, adults and elderly to get familiar with and then start practising “barefoot techniques and exercises” outside in natural environments. These environments could be a grass field, mud, sand, rocky areas (if able to tolerate), or simple pavement or cement. And last but not least I realize that walking barefoot may have benefits associated with the practice of reflexology as the feet have an enormous amount of “reflexes” in the feet which correspond to the function of our glands and organs in our bodies. There are also a large amount of receptors under the feet which may starve from the lack of “feel” and sensory information if our feet are in shoes all day everyday.

Type of shoes and what to look for:

In my opinion, the best shoes are the ones that feel  the most comfortable to your own feet. However, this does not mean that “comfort” equals the “best” shoes; because we may have gotten used to a squishy pair of shoes or a shoe with a very high heel. If this is you then you need practice barefoot walking on natural ground in order to allow your feet to re-educate itself into healthy feet. Anyway, enough of the “why,” lets talk about the “what.” I will not go into detail about each type of shoe but I will point out some general attributes of them. The best and most natural shoes that mimic barefoot feel that I have learned about are “Vivobarefoot, Nike free trainers, and Huaraches (worn by the superhuman tribe, Tarahumara). The Vivobarefoot shoes have a thin sole which feels like you are touching the ground directly. It also has a wide enough toe box at the front to allow the toes to move freely, and finally it has no arch support which facilitates our natural foot arch to become stronger. The Huaraches are probably the thinnest footwear out there which mimics barefoot walking and running to its full potential. Since it is a sandal it is even better than the VivoBarefoot shoes. Lastly, we have the extremely popular Nike free trainers. These shoes are excellent because they have the properties of the Vivobarefoot shoes except for having a thicker sole. It is also extremely flexible which allows the foot and toes to freely move around and promote a natural “foot workout” within the shoes. As the renowned Physiotherapist and Coach, Kelly Starrett said, “we only need a sole thick enough to prevent bruising.” After reading this I hope you find the appropriates shoes to accommodate your daily activities.

Exercises to increase awareness, feel, and proprioception:

As Barefoot walking and running author Michael Sandler said, “we do not know where our feet wants to go in a pair of shoes because they cannot “feel;” only the rich sensory information from our feet contacting the ground would be able to tell us that.” The enormous amount of mechanoreceptors in our feet which function to feel and send information to our brain seems obvious that only by direct contact with the ground will we be able to “feed” these receptors and therefore, our brain and nervous system. By being in shoes everyday and all day, our feet becomes “foreign” to natural ground even if we have no injuries or debilitations. You can go outside and try this by testing barefoot walking or even just standing on “snow, bed of rocks, grass, cement etc. After a while or even a few minutes you may start complaining about the aches and pains or even saying that it is “weird.” Again, the reason is that our feet have becoem “foreign” to natural environments.

Reflexology:

By walking on different natural surfaces we allow our feet to directly contact the ground and the reaction force from the ground can stimulate our “reflexes” and may cause changes in our glands and organs. It is obvious that some areas of the feet will take in more pressure and this may be the key to which organs and glands receive more or less benefits.

~Open Our Minds,

I have recently discovered more sound education in regards to musculoskeletal problems. Of course, I am not a Physiotherapist but just a a student who wishes to be in the future.  But since I have seen so many healthcare professionals for treatment, it has reinforced my understanding of the three R’s (Reset, Reinforce, and Reload) from the Functional Movement Systems concept. Personal experience is as we all know the greatest back-up in whatever we want to preach. Here goes my attempt from my perspective.

The three R’s can be applied to two broad settings, rehabilitation and Fitness.

Rehabilitation (dysfunction along with pain):

Reset is pretty straight forward and it means we must restart our once innate neuromuscular motor control system or simply (movement) by using release/reset techniques to “free” up our body holistically or wherever the source of the problem arises. This could be done by seeing an RMT, Acupuncturist, PT, Chriopractor, etc. But I realized that the order is important for optimal recovery! For example, if somebody had chronic pain for 5-10 years or more, they should seek healthcare professionals in this order. First, see an RMT, Acupuncturist, Chiropractor, Dry needling specialist, or somebody who does deep tissue work or manipulation etc. Of course you can try resetting things yourself by using apparatuses such as a foam roller, tennis ball, golf ball, lacrosse ball, dowel, etc, but these methods will obviously not be as good as seeking a professional. Second, seeing a professional who can provide you advice on how to “support” your issue will be the next step. This is called reinforcement and can range from an orthotic insert to protective braces etc. This could be a Pedorthist, Podiatrist, Sports Medicine Specialist etc. Third is reloading. With all the work done in the first 2 steps, it is time to start moving/exercising with respectable load. The best professionals for this would be a movement expert or Physiotherapist who has knowledge in how mobility, stability, and motor control etc play part in holistic recovery.

Fitness (Can have dysfunction but not necessarily debilitating pain or pain at all):

Resetting for fitness goals is a little bit different from rehabilitation because there is usually no debilitating pain. Often with some guidance on how to use good technique to release/mobilize your body (tissues) you will be able to get back into your routine. You could use a foam roller, dowel, or various sizes of balls as mentioned above, to do this. Of course, seeing a professional will speed up the process or get into areas that you do not know how. Reinforcing for fitness is in my opinion to move properly and functionally with good form. It does not have to be perfect but it has to be stable each and every time. Reloading is when you have addressed the first 2 steps and now feel more confident and less restricted you can attempt to challenge respectable loads once again. This way your fitness goals and gains will be more effective and efficient.

A few more notes from personal experience:

A dynamic mobility stretch is often better than a stationary dynamic and static stretch.

Rolling the bottom of your feet depends on your problem. In my now more informed opinion, rolling with a dowel or rod is more effective if you want to “re-balance” unstable feet. A ball is more for pinpoint “tightness/stiffness” but often the issue will have caused more problems in other areas due to compensation. The technique to rolling must be slow and controlled for reducing irritation to our tissues and allow our nervous system to relax thus relaxing our tissues.

Mechanoreceptors also play a role in our proprioception to help us adapt and regain unique individual “sensations.”

 

~Open Our Minds