Chasing the Symptoms: A Discussion

In our role as Movement Professionals, we all have the privilege of working with clients that have some sort of pain, some worse than others. These clients may come to us with a list of symptoms, and over time may have developed preconceived ideas of what is wrong with them. ‎Often these clients have seen a number of other Practitioners who were recruited to perform Bodywork of various methods, and a variety of medications may have been administered by the clients Physician as a pain management strategy. Each Practitioner that this client has worked with will share their impression of the dysfunction with the client, and will do their best to help resolve their symptoms. When they finally land on your doorstep, the client brings with them the snippets of information from each previous Practitioner that resonated with them the most.

As Movement Practitioners, we have witnessed time and again that where the client reports feeling pain is not necessarily the root cause of the functional problem, so treating the knee for knee pain will not necessarily resolve the issue to a successful pain-free end. In various movement practices, the body is treated as a complex and dynamic system that needs to be mobilized where the body needs to move more, and stabilized where the body needs more support. This may be in the area where there is pain, but this is just one piece of the biomechanical puzzle. Instead of chasing the symptoms, we work towards the ideal of structural integrity with functional movement.

However, remember, the client comes to us with a goal of eliminating the pain that is affecting their life. If their knee hurts, they want us to work on their knee even though we are confident that the contributing factor resides elsewhere. We have the choice to follow the client on a wild goose chase around their body while the symptoms move from one place to the next, or we can follow our own intuition and expertise.

So I offer this question for open discussion…When a client comes to you with a specific area of pain, and questions why you are working on other parts of the body, what strategies do you use to best manage client expectations without chasing the symptoms?

Please share your experiences and ideas.

Written by

Holly Wallis, Certified Movement & Rehabilitation Specialist, PMA®-CPT
Director of US Operations, Body Harmonics Pilates & Movement Institute

Studio Director, ReActive Movement, 6200 LaSalle Ave, Oakland, CA 94611

© 2015. All rights reserved.


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