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

Photo: adamkaz/Getty Images

“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…


Research shows that ice may be more harmful than helpful for inflammation. Say goodbye RICE and hello to PEACE & LOVE.

Person using an ice pack on their arm.
Person using an ice pack on their arm.
Source: Getty Images

Two things come to mind when I think of Shaquille O’Neal. First, he was one of the most dominant centers in NBA history. Second, IcyHot “saved” him from pain.

Well, that is what he would have us believe.

There was a period when every other commercial break on ESPN included Shaq telling me how these magic patches use “icy to dull the pain and hot to relax it away™.” IcyHot was hardly the first company to take advantage of the pain-relieving effects of hot and cold modalities.

I don’t have an exact date, but it is safe to assume people…


The silent killer makes it harder for our bodies to heal

luza studios from Getty Images

Given we are past the one-year mark of a global pandemic, stress is not hard to find. Take the pandemic away, and we still have jobs, family life, politics, and sports (I can attest as a Dolphins fan) to heighten our stress.

There is a reason stress is referred to as the silent killer. Stress does more than deteriorate health over a long period of time, however. It has a an immediate effect on our ability to heal. But hope is not lost.

There are many research-backed strategies that can be employed to address these effects. They aren’t just theoretical…


The most thought-provoking question a professor has asked me.

Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

“Whose am I?”

This was the primary question provided me prior to speaking to a group of graduate students at Kennesaw State University. Every year, Dr. Calloway, the professor of the leadership course, invited local leaders to share their stories for the benefit of the students. This would be my first of several opportunities to speak to his class.

To prepare, Dr. Calloway provides his invited speakers with a couple of suggested questions or speaking points. I pondered his question “whose am I” for some time prior to building my slide deck and running through many rehearsals.

How would you…


Looking at the research, not just following Born to Run

Photo by sporlab on Unsplash

While running is a simple sport — simple is not the same as easy — fads training programs and areas of focus are common.

After the release of the book Born to Run, barefoot running took center stage. While barefoot running can work for some people, it is hardly a universal superior running option.

But let’s say you want to run barefoot. Aside from needing to build up a tolerance, you need to run with a fore- or mid-foot strike pattern. You will destroy your heel with a heel strike sans the protection of a shoe.

Another reason for running…


Surgery, medication, and injections fail to treat one vital component of pain

Source: Getty Images

Chronic pain affects millions of people at any given moment. With all of our medical and technological advances, why can’t we abolish it?

As a physical therapist and researcher, that question enters my mind on a daily basis. We have some pieces of the puzzle.

First, surgery doesn’t work. It often tackles concerns that aren’t drivers of pain. Even if tissue damage is a driver of pain — such as an ACL tear — the repair only addresses part of the pain equation.

Talk to someone who received surgery, an injection, or medication to treat chronic pain and they will…

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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