I can’t escape it. My work follows me wherever I go. Everyone always talks about how PT’s get to leave their work at the clinic. Once we’re done with the daily documentation there really shouldn’t be anything that has to be done at home. The one thing no one talks about is how hard it is to take off your PT hat to see the world through different eyes.
It used to be fun. In graduate school we’d be given assignments to go out in a public space to observe people walking and completing daily activities. Now I watch people wherever I am, evaluating their every move. It’s so normal for me that I don’t even realize I’m doing it, much of the time. It’s not until T and I are on one of our epic urban hikes and I’m performing running analyses on every poor runner who happens to bound by, gleefully unaware that I’m scrutinizing their every step and he tells me, in his kind way, that he’s heard enough. It’s even gotten to the point where he calls out mechanics he doesn’t like in runners passing by and sometimes I have to tell him, in my kind way, that I’ve heard enough. Ever the entrepreneur, he recently, and only half-jokingly, suggested I set up a booth on The Embarcadero and offer my services to the scores of runners passing by.
I have, however, begun to see this “problem” as more of a blessing than a curse. I do believe it’s made me a better PT by exposing me to all types of running styles. I didn’t need to read a running magazine a few years ago to forecast the growing popularity of the minimalist shoe. In the past few years, I have seen a noticeable increase in the number of people running without shoes or in minimal shoes, and with that, a rise in the number of runners who come to me with an injury related to running because they haven’t transitioned correctly or may not be appropriate for minimalist footwear. I also now see more runners landing on their toes than I have in the past, independent of shoe type, and while some runners look so natural moving down the road, the effort is palpable in many others.
I feel fortunate to work in a city where running is so popular, a job that involves the rehabilitation and prevention of running injuries, and in an era when research on running mechanics, styles, and trends is constantly emerging. I look forward to sharing what I see and learn…just as soon as I get back from my run.