Thinking differently sometimes means making small adjustments to an already refined process. The problem with being passionate about a process is that our attempts to refine it mean that we overlook what’s missing and thus forget to think differently about what we already know… The best way to really know anything is to challenge it… and to challenge what you know means you have to think differently. Thinking differently sometimes means doing the exact opposite.
Thinking differently about therapy is not actually that hard. There are some pretty hard and fast rules to think differently about. You can just flip them upside down and oppose them. If the gold standard is to lay someone down to treat them, try standing them up. If the goal in doing this is to challenge conventional thought processes then we’d need a successful outcome when standing them up to give us reason to no longer lay them down again…. Standing patients up to treat them is packed with incredible value, they move from an open chain, non-gravity defying posture to a closed chain gravitationally challenged posture that has to manage under it’s own steam, it cannot lay there and receive a treatment but must (in more ways than one) become part of the treatment and thereby be involved and interactive throughout the process. A whole new learning environment is created where the patient unconsciously adopts greater responsibility and begins to feel and experience his own limitations within his/her own body. This new awareness in the patient, in case you forgot already, arose by way of thinking differently.
First: find some underground rules: “Pronation is bad”. “Knee must stay over second toe”. “Stabilise the core”. “Isolate to integrate” There are countless. Where could thinking differently take us..?
Pronation is good? What good can we find about the act of pronation. Perhaps I should inform myself better about pronation in order to understand how, in some way, it may be good for us…. What is pronation? How does a foot pronate, and what happens when it does… Do I even pronate properly? What does that look like?
What if we said to hell with knee over second toe and allowed it to venture both inside and outside of the second toe… Will it collapse? Will a wormhole to another galaxy appear? Or will there be some overlooked benefit to doing this? What if I venture into that space carefully, slowly, with caution, challenging the knee with a little guided support. Again, what do we know about the knee and it’s surrounding structures? Now that we are upright, what impact does the foot (that I’m now happily pronating) have on the knee and does that still make sense with the hard and fast rule?
Stabilise the core… I’ve read the science. It makes sense. Years ago, I even got stronger by doing it… What if though? What if we mobilised it instead? How does the core mobilise? I never thought about that before. I need to consider the spine, I need to consider three dimensions of movement in the spine and I can see the muscles attach to the pelvis, oh, and the ribcage too. How do they move? Do they move? Is there a sequence (or even a secret) to their mobilisings? Can a core be stable and mobile at the same time? Can I be more stable as a result of mobilizing the core structures…? Whoah! Now I’m mobilizing feet, knees and the core… It’s as if they are speaking to each other in a foreign language I’m not quite au fait with… yet…
Isolate to Integrate… Go small first, get good at that and then integrate. Makes sense… thinking differently though leads me toward integrate and then isolate, Work with the whole and then with the parts. Since I’m mobilizing everything guided by this process of just thinking differently, it seems that I am integrating first. I pronate the foot, the knee moves, the pelvis responds, the spine moves and the ribcage follows… everything is set in to motion. Damn! It’s beautiful! I’m not sure I need to worry about the parts just yet though. So this rule is not being opposed exactly, it’s more being… squidged…
And what of muscle’s..? What’s important? Our extensor chain – yes. What a flexed up world we live in… got to get people extending, extending, extending… Wait a minute… I do that everyday, and still their bodies ache for more extension. Now then, how do we think differently about this… instead of extending it… I could flex it. Sounds crazy. Think differently. See what happens. Stand back. Observe… Stand them up first, pronate that foot while I’m at it, to hell with knee over toe too. Flex the hip, render those hip extensors long, yes, not short, but long! Watch them contract, I can see that, I can feel it, I know they are contracting. But how? When? From where? Ah yes, the extensors are learning to contract from their most lengthened position… Extension is happening! Not from a shortened extended position – how much more could we expect them to contract when already short? – but from it’s fully lengthened and flexed position; learning to contract and bring the joints into extension from flexed as they pass through neutral on the way… How do you feel? Tall you say? Upright? Grounded and more stable? I’m enjoying thinking differently and exploring what I didn’t know I didn’t know… Seems my patient is too…
What to make of it all?
Movement seems to be healing in a way that the conventional rules aren’t… it’s promotion of long lost movements, it’s experience of opening and closing structures seems to create a balancing and greater sense of stability within the structures. The more dynamic I am, the more stable I become… This thinking differently exercise has been an interesting journey so far… When things move, they do it in a sequential, organized way, not a chaotic haphazard way. What if we could plot that….? What if we could build a map of the human body, to guide us deeper into the human body… by thinking differently..? What if everything we know can be flipped upside down? How is that possible? How did we miss it? What if that’s not the answer… come on… think…differently…. A-ha? What if it’s both. Imagine the conventional familiar way is 100% accurate - but - if in refining our accuracy of this human anatomical machine we have simply overlooked something plain and simple, we haven’t noticed what’s missing and we forgot to think differently about what we already know! We forgot to stand people up and move them! And… this act of thinking differently leads me here… to a world of motion where we can see the two world’s collide. Stability is nothing without mobility, in the same way mobility can not be without stability. Left must be associated with right and open with closed. Neutral is neither, it’s neither left, nor right. Pronation cannot be bad, nor supination good, since without one, we lose the other too. ALL must be promoted… ALL must be sought after… ALL must be reawakened if we are to find this balance point, find neutral…. NO, I shall call it ‘centre’. Thinking differently has enabled me to “Find Centre”… I think we could all give it a go and not just in the realm of the human body either. How far would you be willing to go to challenge yourself? Break your rules. Thinking differently is the easy part… allowing yourself to do it will be the challenge.