Tackling health misinformation one story at a time

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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…


The article started on Medium but it went viral elsewhere

Photo: Getty Images

I have finally written a viral article. I would love to tell you the reason is due to extensive content and keyword research, writing 14 different drafts, and enlisting the help of social media influencers. Those take substantial effort.

Nope. It was one singular change in a story I had already written.

I added a clickbait headline.

A Tale of Two Headlines


A physical therapist addresses misconceptions around intensity, soreness, and pain

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“No pain, no gain” might be the worst phrase ever uttered in the gym. Asking the question, “Is it soreness or pain?” is a close second. At the end of the day, both pain and soreness are unpleasant. Attempting to delineate between the two is meaningless for most of us. For trained people who are highly attuned to each response their body has after exercise, sure, they can tell the difference. For everyone else, any kind of discomfort is typically a deterrent to continue making treks to the gym or lacing up running shoes.

Pain is not necessary to obtain…


This recent study challenged my bias about exercise

Getty Images

Exercise is medicine, but have you ever wondered how much exercise is needed to heal the body?

Studies show exercise is a powerful tool for treating knee pain and delaying or preventing future surgery. As a physical therapist, I have witnessed these benefits firsthand. Patients destined for the knife are able to delay and sometimes permanently postpone surgery through exercise.

In each case, I work with the patient to develop a comprehensive, long-term exercise plan to build the body’s resilience. In each case, I have to determine what type and how much exercise is needed.

A recent study looked at…


I had the content but lacked the passion and the audience to gain traction

Photo by Sammy Williams on Unsplash

Should I stay within a niche or expand my writing topics?

Depending on which “here’s how to make oodles of money on Medium” articles you read, the suggestion will differ.

I primarily write about health and medical research. My personal mission is to reduce health misinformation and help people make informed decisions about their health and wellness. I will stray into other topics, however.

I enjoy writing about my personal journey, professional growth strategies, and books.

Some articles come easier than others. Some topics are more enjoyable to write while others stretch my abilities.

The past two years (the duration…


How much longer are we going to ignore decades of research?

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The posture nonsense is getting out of control. While preparing for a residency lecture this week, I came across an article on posture written by a physician. It was hard to contain my frustration.

“Sitting badly or standing in a slouched position stresses your lower back, weakening and damaging an intricate network of muscles, discs, and joints. And once you’ve damaged your back it’s hard to repair.” — Dr. Michael Mosley

This is a load of BS and has no research to support it. The article will cause harm, not help people. Ok, I’m still a little frustrated.

It's not…


Each one can be personalized

Source: Getty Images

In my profession, all actions should be backed by science. The term ‘Evidence-Based Practice’ (Evidence-Based Medicine is used in healthcare as well) refers to the integration of best available research, clinician experience and expertise, and patient goals, values, and perspective. This framework can be applied to creators as well.

“Research is creating new knowledge.” — Neil Armstrong

Research should be at the foundation of determining the best courses of action. Take creativity and focus as an example. If you are struggling with either, chances are you have Googled ideas, asked a mentor, or picked up a book or two (Indistractable


A 3-Book stoicism starter kit

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Books expand our perspective and shift our mindsets. We are limited by our experiences and some of those experiences — like living through a global pandemic — can leave us yearning for answers.

Over the past 18 months, I have reflected on many of the books I have read. Self-help books are intended to help us grow personally and professionally, but many are limited in their application. They provide a set of rules and strategies that can only be applied in a narrow set of circumstances. …


The beliefs are more important than their credentials

Male doctor
Male doctor
Ridofranz from Getty Images

How do you choose your doctor? Perhaps you review the credentials and experience of local physicians. Maybe a friend’s recommendation sways you. Could Google reviews be the key?

What about your doctor’s beliefs about pain?

According to recent research, a provider's belief about pain influences the treatments you receive.

As a physical therapist who conducts research and teaches, I am buried in research and constantly reflecting on my clinical practice. Unfortunately, I was not as diligent with my reflection before taking on my research and education roles. This led to many outdated treatment approaches for my patients.

Every provider starts…


The perspective of an educator

Photo by Dom Fou on Unsplash

When planning for my first elective course as a lead instructor in late 2019, a global pandemic failed to crack my list of contingency plans. I joined the ranks of educators scrambling to convert all of their content to online-only in a matter a few days (two of my colleagues were given 48 hours).

Fast forward 18 months and we have the opportunity to ‘return to normal.’ Should that be the goal? Is that what students are looking for? …

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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