Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Forecasting and Other Prophecies

The world is changing. Some time ago it was okay, if not good, to just intuitively know things. Today, we need data. We want numbers, stats, figures and information so we can make decisions and predict the future. I get that, I have a degree in statistics after all, so part of me really understands this. But we have a tendency to take things too far. We have started taking information and making bold predictions, if not harmful curses.

Take the corrective exercise world for example. We have all kinds of movement screens we can use to see how well, or how un-well, a person can move. This is not a bad thing. These screens can point us in the right direction when it comes to trying to help a person move better. And if that was the only use of a screen, that would be great. But that is not always what we do. Sometimes we take the information, the data, that we have determined from the screen, and we make predictions, or forecasts, or curses. 

We have been taught, or we have learned ourselves, to look at movement screens and make grave statements about the person being screened. We might say things like, "Oh, look at all these asymmetries you have. You are X-times more likely to get hurt than a person who doesn't have these asymmetries.", or "If you can't move this way, you should never try to perform this exercise, your risk of injury is very high." , or "Man, I surprised you have been playing soccer this long without an injury, look at your screen scores!" You get the idea, right? We have started cursing people that we screen. 

OKAY - If you are a "screener", just breathe. I am not picking on you. I have done this in the past. I ask forgiveness for doing this, too. I was wrong. AND, I am not saying screens are evil. I am only saying we need to be careful of how we interpret the subjective information we gather from screens and we need to be mindful of what we voice to those that we do screen.

Movement screens should NEVER be used to condemn a person, or to place fear and doubt in a person. That is cancerous. Sure, there may be statistically significant data that correlates with higher risk of injury, but that doesn't mean we have to forecast that injury to the person being screened. I know people that would probably score horribly on a movement screen and yet they can outperform, and have outperformed, most of their peers for years and have never sustained one injury. Perhaps they were able to do this because they never had a seed of fear (injury) placed into their heads? 

The truth is people who climb trees have a significantly larger chance of falling out of trees than those who don't climb trees. But the people who climb trees don't think about that. They are too busy climbing. They are too busy living. Numbers and stats don't always have to have meaning. Usually they only have the value that we place on them in the first place. 

We should not be using screens to plant seeds of fear, doubt, and pending injury into people. We should only use screens, if we use them, to try to build up and improve the quality of life for the person being screened. No one needs help accumulating more fear and doubt in their lives. No one needs more reasons not to move and engage in life. We need hope, not fear.

We should all be out there climbing trees. Yes the odds of falling out of a tree are greater than they would ever be if we were never in a tree. But way up in the tree, the view is beautiful. You can see for miles. Life happens way up in the tree. Teach people how to climb. 


Rick Evans said...

Hello Tim,

Any plans to do a workshop in Arizona?

Tim Anderson said...

Right now, the closest to Arizona we will be is Modesto, CA - this weekend.
We are almost going all over the place, but not quite there yet.

robdelacruz said...

Tim, lots of good stuff in your old blog, particularly this post. There's lots of fear-mongering out there (from fitness podcasts, cross-fit, etc.) focusing on what people can't do rather than encouraging them to get more active. Other sites (ex. gettoyourcore.com by Dr. Hoffman) I feel make things more complicated than it should be.

This is one reason why I like the positive tone, simplicity, and practicality of your Original Strength book. Basically, it just works, and it has motivational value as well. I think a future book focused on motivation and some of your practical philosophy on fitness and life, such as what you have in your blog, would be a bestseller.

Any chance of moving some of your older blog entries to the original strength blog? I think new readers will enjoy reading them as well.

Tim Anderson said...

Thank you sir. I appreciate your feedback. I was thinking about transferring some of these posts over. Just didn't know how they would be received.

Thank you for your idea regarding a book. That is something I would like to do. Thank you so much.