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Body repair motions

 •  • by Paul Ingraham
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Weekly nuggets of pain science news and insight, usually 100-300 words, with the occasional longer post. The blog is the “director’s commentary” on the core content of a library of major articles and books about common painful problems and popular treatments. See the blog archives or updates for the whole site.

This is a good comic about our notoriously poor compliance with therapeutic or “corrective” exercise (“body repair motions”). Humans don’t do the BRMs nearly as much as they are prescribed to us by other humans, because they are typically tedious, life is full, and attention spans are short… and so we tend to fail and then lie about it “to avoid shame.”

That’s the it’s-funny-because-it’s-true basis for the comic. Now for some truth that’s not as funny but more useful

What most people don’t realize is that they have a far better reason not to do the body repair motions: most of them are useless. There’s no such thing as “corrective” exercise.

I am not saying that exercise isn’t useful in rehab, but the ability of specific exercises to have specific effects on the course of recovery, or to reduce alleged risk factors for re-injury, has been greatly exaggerated by physical therapists and trainers for decades. The overwhelming majority of injured people simply need to rest, and then take baby steps back to normal activity levels as soon as pain and function allow it — no “body repair motions” needed at all.

For a skilled and diplomatic professional perspective on this, see The Corrective Exercise Trap, by Nick Tumminello, Jason Silvernail, and Ben Cormack.

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