Over the weekend I was working on my essay for my PT school applications and I thought the prompt was something interesting to share.
Physical therapy is all about movement of the human body. Specifically improving or optimizing movement of the human body. The essay prompt addresses using the optimization of movement to improve life, or “the human experience” as they put it.
While working on my essay I spent quite a bit of time reflecting on the importance of movement and the important role it plays in our ability to live our lives. Of course my essay focused on how I hope to improve the movement of my (future/ hypothetical) patients, but it got me thinking about what movement means to me in my life.
I’m personally fortunate enough that the movement I need to get through my day to day tasks is not something I need to consciously think about. I can get out of bed, get myself dressed and get through my day in an efficient and pain free manner (something I hope to never take for granted!).
When I think about movement for myself, I think about running. I think about yoga. I think about taking Madison for a walk.
These are the things I enjoy doing. These are the things that I feel improve my human experience.
I thought a lot about how movement, or “optimized movement” means something different to each person depending on their situation. Their history. Their goals.
What are your goals?
What is the journey you want to take?
What do you need to get there?
What movement do you need
to live your ideal human experience?
Movement is so integral in my life. The obvious, like you said, running, walking my dog, swimming, all the ways I move throughout the day and keep my body oiled. But there’s also a more metaphoric movement, movement through space and time, shifts in how we live our lives, changes in our goals, our dreams. When I changed how I physically moved my body—becoming a runner after a decade of avoiding it at all costs—I shifted so many other things in my life—my home, my job, my career. I think it’s all tied in together, as if the physical movement of running prompted a more personal movement. I certainly suffer from wanderlust, constantly traveling, on the go, partly because I’m simply want to see the world, but also because inertia somehow feels wrong for me. I just can’t stay put. In other words, movement of all kinds propels my life. What am I running toward? I have no idea. But the journey is incredibly fun.
Reading this I felt like I could have written it myself! After I began running and then ran my first marathon, something I never thought I would do, I felt like I could accomplish anything! It ultimately led me to decide to take on the challenge of leaving a career I wasn’t thrilled with and going back to school. Amazing what physical movement can translate in to!
I love this!
For me, this brings two different concepts to mind.
As someone who has been a dancer for the majority of my life, I feel like I have a certain kinesthetic awareness that I might not have otherwise. Even when I watch other people dance, I find I have a sort of out-of-body experience, where I can almost feel my body going through the movements that the dancers are executing. And I think I’ve been able to apply this spatial awareness of my body to other movement-based activities I’ve started doing regularly in the past few years, like yoga and running. I find I’m really aware of my form and automatically apply minor adjustments just like I would during a dance class.
The other thing that comes to mind is based on my experience as a nurse and now nurse practitioner. As someone who cares for a lot of elderly people, it always amazes me how two people the same age can be in such drastically different states of health. I have 60 year-old patients that look 80, and 80 year-old patients who look 60. And I have a really strong feeling that one of the big underlying difference is movement — those people who have remained active throughout their lives are healthier and younger-appearing than those who are sedentary. I also think those that remain active tend to take better care of themselves in general, and it’s hard to say which comes first, but it is really striking.
p.s. I just wrote you a belated comment on your DC trip planning post!
Oh my goodness, yes – as a former gymnast and now yogi, I am often intrigued when I realize the lack of spatial/ body awareness that others have! It’s something that comes so naturally to me, so it’s interesting to see how others struggle with it – and good for me to understand when working with patients!
And I agree on the link between movement and aging. I can’t tell you how many times I am working with patients as a PT aide and look at their chart and am shocked by their age – either very active people seeming much younger than they are or some much less active seeming much older! I was talking to a patient the other day about her golf game, I would have guessed she was maybe mid-70’s…nope, 92!
Great post… I have made the same observations as you have over the last 39 years as a physician. USE IT OR LOSE IT….! applies to MIND and BODY alike. dad