Written by consiliumclub on . Posted in A Little Connection, by Jen Richards Little, MSPT, CST

Our office has moved.

It’s a little surreal, after 10 years in the old building, to be in this new space.  I never really saw the old building as “bad”, but being in this new space, that fits our clinic much better, and fits the clinicians much better, I see how dysfunctional the old space had become.

I was helping Todd unpack during the move weekend, and we were talking about his vision for how we would use the new space.  There is now a place for everything and everything has a space, and therefore should increase our efficiency.  And he said, “We were so stuck in our old way of doing things, the only way we were going to be able to change was if we moved locations.”


Though not entirely true, we could have completely overhauled our systems, though it would have been much harder to let go of our established patterns without moving to a new space.  The move gave us a formal time where everything’s usefulness was examined.  Things no longer useful were thrown out, recycled, or sold.  What we wanted to keep we put in a box, moved and unpacked in the new space, in a more ordered way, the treatment stuff in the treatment rooms, and the office stuff in the front office, the gym stuff in the gym.  There is enough storage for everything, enough room to move around everything, and nothing cluttering the visual lines anymore.  But we needed that proverbial kick in the pants to make the change.

Shortly thereafter, I received an email from a far away family friend.  My friend had hurt his back and was in pain.  He was asking if I had any exercises or stretches that could make it better.  He was about to leave on a trip and wouldn’t be near home or his doctor.  I tried my best to get an idea of what was going on through his oral history and to give him some exercises and recommendations that would be neutral if not helpful to tide him over until he could get to see someone.

Though I couldn’t accurately assess the specifics of his back issues, one thing was crystal clear.  He was at a pivotal place in his movement strategies.  Something in the way he has been moving has become inefficient.  Parts of his body are not moving as freely as they should, causing other parts to work harder, and when parts work harder for long enough, they break down.  It was almost as if his body was saying,” We are stuck in our old way of doing things, and it’s not working anymore.”

Just after that, I found that my cat had resumed urinating in my craft room (long story).  Now cats always use the same place, and if there is any trace of a smell left, they will continue to use it until something changes, even if it is your craft room and not the litter box.   So my cats had become, “stuck in their old way of doing things”, and the only way they were going to change was if that carpet “moved locations”.  So we spent an evening pulling up smelly, degrading carpet, stinky padding, tack strips, and staples.  When we pulled up the carpet pad, we found the expected places of urine and chemicals used to try to eliminate the urine, and three tiny spots of mildew/mold.  But we also found a huge unexpected puddle that had been underneath the steam cleaner I have been using to try to clean the carpet.  It was a 2 feet by 3 feet wet spot on the floor boards.  Bad.  Really bad.  So I sprayed the whole naked floor with bleach, opened all the windows, and said a little prayer that the room would smell better in the morning.

Do you see the pattern?  To make a change, we often need to be pushed into a corner by something so inconvenient or painful that we have no other choice but to change.  Like moving locations, like back pain, like repetitive cat pee.

And when we finally get into that corner, we need to change from the inside and from the outside to get out of it.  And rarely have I seen one change without the other.

There are intrinsic changes, changes that happen within.

Changes within a clinic, within a craft room, within a body.  Within a body, there are joint mechanics that need improvement, fascia that needs to glide again, parts not moving that need to remember how to move again.  I told the complete story of the carpet, and the big water spot from the cleaner to show that often, there are places that need attention that we are totally unaware of, (I would never have guessed that the cleaner was leaking) and that if left unaddressed, those places could lead to major damage somewhere else.  A poorly moving sacrum, if left long enough, can cause the joint above it to break down contributing to herniated discs higher up.  And that is where a good body worker comes in, someone that can figure out what is not moving, and help those places to move again.

And there are extrinsic changes, changes that happen without.

The clinic now has a new address, a craft room now has vinyl tile floor, a body now moves with less pain and more strength and range of motion.  I think that a good body worker, well, at least a good Physical Therapist anyway, will work on the intrinsic dysfunction and then work on functional movement.  Balance the movements within the spine, and then use that new relationship in getting up from a chair, that sort of thing.

Our new clinic feels better to work in, and it feels better to the clients that walk through the doors.  My friend texted me that he was starting to feel better doing some of the exercises and talking his wife into nightly massages.

And in the morning, the craft room did smell better.

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