Quite a few months ago, I began working with a young woman that appeared fit, had an accomplished prior athletic career, and an outwardly positive attitude. She had been referred to me post physical therapy for low back pain that was bordering on chronic. She had also had knee surgery (meniscus repair), and rotator cuff surgery on both shoulders. She said she felt like she was a 26 year old in an 80 year old’s body.
We are hardwired to make assumptions based on what we see and our past experiences. We do this with all things, and often it serves us well by allowing us to infer information in a swift manner. Sometimes, our assumptions lead us to conclusions that are inaccurate, and sometimes it causes us to pass judgement when we really shouldn’t because the information that is available to us isn’t the entire picture. This young woman’s injuries had been approached in a piece-meal way; there was pain at the shoulders, so the shoulders were treated. Logical conclusion, but in this instance, her incredible mobility and lack of overall stability was ignored. The fact that she could contort herself into aesthetically pleasing shapes and could make her body do almost anything that was asked led to coaches, trainers, and other professionals not realizing she lacked the basic components of stability. Those movements she made that looked so pretty were coming at a price. When I find myself making a snap judgement about someone in any way, I remind myself I know only what I see. Unless I take the time to look a little harder, what I see at first glance probably isn’t the entire story.