One of the challenges being a doctor is that you rarely meet people when things are going well for them. They only seem to come to us when they are in pain, when they don’t feel well, and when they need urgent help.
As the Director of Performance Medicine at Tignum, I love that I get to change the paradigm. I get to work with high-performing clients who are inspired to be a little better. As part of the Tignum team, I get to provide clients with a new perspective of what is happening inside their bodies so they can create smarter habits and improve their performance (at work and away from work).
Recently, while I was in London doing a re-test with one of our clients, I was particularly intrigued by one client’s story. Three months ago he told me about his medical history where he had debilitating neck pain which he had suffered for over 3 years. He was on and off painkillers, he went to physiotherapy, and yet he was still in pain. He was not only frustrated but it was having a huge negative impact on his performance. It is not easy to collaborate and give energy to others when you yourself are in pain. Worse yet, being in that current state of dysfunction, he didn’t’ see that he could actually improve his situation.
Statistically, this is not that surprising. The medical statistics show that about 70-80% of people with desk jobs suffer from an episode of back and neck pain, at least one time a year, that is so severe that they need medical attention. Most of the time the prescription looks like this:
_take a painkiller 2 or 3 times a day (sometimes in combination with a muscle relaxant)
_if that doesn’t work, do a series of 6 sessions physiotherapy
_if the pain still exists, go for an MRI
The problem is, in my experience, that most of these clients’ pain is caused by functional causes not anatomical ones. Sure they may find a herniated disc, but guess what – lots of people walk around every day pain free with herniated discs. The fact is, the root of their problem is very often a lack of stability, strength, balance, and coordination. In less than medical terms, they are a mess because their posture is awful, they sit way too much, they overdo it when they exercise, and they have forgotten that they can be better.
What resonated with me so much about the client I was retesting was his description of how it hit him that something was different. One day (6 weeks after I originally tested him and he attended the program), he realized that something was missing and he couldn’t figure out what it was. After some thought, he recognized that it was the fact that he no longer had neck and back pain.
As a doctor I love this story because it is about a client who took responsibility, did the movements we suggested, and proved to himself that the only time we can’t change our current state is when we refuse to change our habits. Of course a part of me wishes it was my magic hands, but the truth is that simple movements done correctly and consistently actually did the work for him. Even better, being pain free now, this client is more productive, collaborates better, gives more energy to everyone around him, is a better leader, and is a happier person. At Tignum, this is Sustainable High Performance.
By Dr. Lutz Graumann