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  • Writer's pictureJason Burtchell, PT, Cred. MDT

Resiliency Now! (resiliency later)

It's often hard to think about making a decision now that will have a significant impact on a stranger 5, 10 or 20 years your elder. It's hard for many of us to make a decision that will have an impact on us directly in 6 months. What's often lost on us is that we are the stranger, and the decisions we make today will not only impact us tomorrow, next week and in 6 months, but in 5, 10 and 20 years. Sometimes the catalyst is losing the ability to do something due to injury and recognizing how important that loss of ability actually is.

As a physical therapist with over twenty years of experience, I have had and currently have the privilege of working with clients of all ages and abilities. The common tie? There is a movement issue. The movement issue may be associated with pain, stiffness, weakness or any combination thereof and it is our job to fix that. Another common tie: we all need to do the same movements. The movements vary in scale, but not in kind: getting up out of a chair for some is no different than performing a heavy squat for others. The consequences are quite different, however, depending on where you are on that scale: if you miss the back squat, you check your ego and move on. If you can't get out of a chair (or you have difficulty with doing so), you may be well on your way to the nursing home. Of course there is a fairly wide range of abilities between the two examples.

How it feels carrying all the grocery bags in one trip.

An injury is a sure fire way to appreciate a movement that is no longer available to you. Ask anyone who has experienced back pain and struggled to tie their shoe as a result. Therein lies the beauty of being resilient.

Our bodies are inherently resilient: they will take enormous amounts of punishment and do everything in their power to keep going. Excellent evidence of this: 6 in 10 adults in the U.S. have a chronic disease and 4 in 10 have 2 or more chronic diseases (per; despite this average life expectancy in this country is around 78 years old (per This begs the question: if our body can fight chronic disease for up to decades in the presence of poor health habits, what would happen to both longevity and quality of life if there are good habits in place?

Becoming resilient involves many things, but is also part of every one of us. How to maximize this can start with something like experiencing an injury and learning how to get better from it. Injure your back? I can show you not only how to recover, but to be able to move loads with confidence to not only get back to doing what you need to, but also to help reduce the risk of it happening again.

Time and again I have patients express their pleasant surprise about not only their ability to perform activities they lost when they became injured, but also how to actually excel at them. There are few greater pleasures than being a part of the solution to the injury problem and watching my patient move with confidence back into function and performance.

"It's a great life if you don't weaken." - John Buchanan

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