I always explain that my job is to teach people how to use their body well. I am well aware that this sounds very abstract at first, so let us see a practical example.
One of my patients recently asked whether he may snowboard during his holidays, despite his bad back (he has seriously damaged lumbar disks, with chronic radiating pain). What are the risks inherent to snowboarding, and the potential damage to his back in view of his condition? [...]
There are 3 main risks linked to snowboarding:
The first two can be managed by "taking it easy": we call them functional risks. They depend a lot on you. The third one is a structural risk: it's inherent to the activity. In theory, it should be avoided by this patient due to his lumbar condition.
Now, one should also recognize that activities he loves are good for his psyche, hence his body. Therefore, my final advice was
The message could hence be: nothing is forbiden, it's just a matter of how you carry out the activities, (i.e. for how long and in which posture) and how you relax afterwards. My job is help you find your way. Of course, we also work together on your motivation: which support do you need from me and others to consolidate the new behaviour? For example, how can your family switch from (sometimes) being a stressor to being supportive? But this is another topic...
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