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My mission is to challenge health misinformation by improving knowledge translation from research to clinicians and patients.

Health misinformation is pervasive and harmful. Roughly 36% of US adults have basic or below basic health literacy levels and up to 96% of individuals use at least 1 unaccredited…


Nassim Taleb teaches you how to become Antifragile

Image source: mattjeacock at Getty Images

The pandemic has been brutal for millions, if not billions, of families. Yet, for some people, the pandemic has benefited them. How is that possible? Some of it is luck. Some of it is antifragility.

“Some things benefit from shocks; they thrive and grow when exposed to volatility, randomness, disorder, and stressors and love adventure, risk, and uncertainty.”

Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder is without a doubt the most frustrating book I’ve ever read. On the one hand, author Nassim Nicholas Taleb provides a raw and authentic viewpoint regarding the challenges with forecasting and preparing for future events. On…


New research highlights flaws with the grit message

Image Source: Tom Gowanlock from Getty Images

What is the key ingredient to success?

Hiring managers, school admissions teams, coaches, and electors all want to know this answer. The opinions are numerous. Some learn toward the intellectual side — IQ — and others the emotional side — emotional intelligence (EQ). If you ever scroll through the top TED talks of all-time list, you will come across Angela Duckworth’s grit talk.

Duckworth, and many others, believe Grit is that key ingredient.

Recent research challenges that belief.

What is Grit?

Duckworth describes grit as “perseverance and passion for long-term goals.” In an interview, she elaborates stating, “grit is not just having resilience…


Massage has been shown to reduce pain but that doesn't mean it encourages people to move.

Image source: innovatedcaptures from Getty Images

Fear is a powerful motivator. If you fear movement, you likely won’t move.

Research is clear that fear of movement and fear of future pain lowers a person’s physical activity levels and quality of life. Furthermore, future pain intensity and levels of disability worsen, leading to more missed days of work.

Fear can be harmful and difficult to escape. Catastrophic thoughts — exaggerating the potential consequences of pain — lead to more avoidance behavior. In addition to work, catastrophizing causes people to avoid social connections altogether.

How can people overcome a fear of pain and get their lives back?

Depending…


A physical therapists assessment of his short and long-term outlook

Image source: By Keith Allison from Hanover, MD, USA — Fernando Tatis Jr., Manny Machado, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=80009960

One of baseball’s biggest stars is down with a shoulder injury. The good news is initial reports indicate surgery is not necessary. As of yesterday, it was reported Tatis may return to the field after the minimum about of time on the Injured List — 10 days.

This has me concerned.

As we will explore in this article, surgery is still a potential outcome and the timeline for Fernando Tatis Jr.’s — Star of the San Diego Padres — is murky. Regardless of the path he takes, physical therapy will be part of the process.

A Mighty Swing

After swinging and missing a…


Kinesio tape is not the answer to reducing pain and improving athletic performance

Image source: https://m.facebook.com/houstonzoo/photos/a.201562002525/10159704432697526/?type=3&p=90

What do Olympic athletes, Tour de France cyclists, recreational runners, and Houston elephants have in common?

They each use stretchy, colorful tape to try to treat their pain.

You might see our elderly Asian elephant, Methai sporting a new look in the yard! She’s been fitted with kinesio tape by Dr. Marziani, one of our consulting veterinarians who specializes in rehabilitation therapy, chiropractic, and other non-invasive therapeutics in animals. The kinesio tape is an elastic sports tape designed to relieve pain while supporting muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Since Methai is getting up there in age (she’s 51!) she’s starting to…


Comparing how athletes and nonathletes tackle pain and body image

Image by nico_blue from Getty Images

No one is immune to body image challenges.

Despite having bodies most people would envy, even elite athletes at the collegiate and professional levels, have body image issues.

Body image — how you see yourself in the mirror or your mind — can influence your mental wellbeing and diet. A poor body image can result in disordered eating and extreme exercise habits.

Since body image is relative, there is no ideal body. The goalposts frequently move. There is always someone stronger, thinner, or more shredded. Athletes compare themselves to fellow athletes. They may perceive their body being a limiting factor…


If you are using surgery to treat pain, you are likely missing the true issues

Image by Kameleon007 from Getty Images

When it comes to pain, surgery is often not the answer. Furthermore, as a certified specialist in orthopedic physical therapist, I have seen surgery lead to more pain.

Yes, in many cases surgery is appropriate. It can be a lifesaving intervention. With respect to pain, however, the answer is not clear-cut.

Let’s start with chronic pain.

A 2019 research study pooled data from 25 research trials that assessed the effectiveness of surgery for chronic pain. They concluded:

“There is little evidence for the specific efficacy beyond sham for invasive procedures in chronic pain.”

Translation?

If improvements in pain are noted…


The intention may be good but the frequent focus on posture is driving unnecessary fear

People are commonly taught to avoid flexing — or rounding — their spine, especially when lifting objects.

Is the advice helping or harming them?

This question may seem silly, but research is clear lifting with a rounded low back does not increase our risk for pain or injury.

Dead serious. Check out the studies for yourself if you don’t believe me.

This leads me to another question regarding the “dangerous” rounded back recommendations. Are there long-term behavior changes when teaching someone to adopt a specific posture in response to pain?

Unintended consequences of posture advice

This study tested whether fear-avoidance beliefs influenced spinal motion during…


Do disc herniations in the back matter?

Often times they do not. Seriously.

Imaging studies reveal people with lumbar disc herniations may or may not develop symptoms, regardless of age or activity level. When symptoms do present, research shows most cases resolve with non-operative care.

What about elite athletes? They put their bodies through greater demands than most people. Will herniations be more impactful to them?

Studies show when a disc herniation is present, symptoms are more common in elite athletes compared to the rest of the population (75% vs. 31%). Elite athletes also face greater pressure to return to…

Zachary Walston

A physical therapist tackling health misinformation | Elemental, Better Humans, The Startup, The Ascent, Mind Cafe | https://www.zacharywalston.com/subscribe

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