Isn’t it Enough?

Pseudoscience at its very best wastes time and money. At its worst it can cause undue suffering and end lives. I am fortunate that in my own chosen fields of fitness and massage that the consequences are rarely so high, but this does not change the fact that dubious claims and magical thinking exist in both. There is no simple answer for why this happens, but I often find myself wondering if much of this shoddy thinking and borderline quackery happens because many in these fields do not fully appreciate just how wonderful what it is that we do.

Fitness educator JC Santana describes personal trainers as “…modern physical education teachers for a population who has lost physical education.” Some people might take this as a slight, but I think it’s a compliment. As a trainer I help people recognize and reach their fitness goals. A good deal of what I do is giving advice based off of how I understand research and how it fits the client. The rest is being there, coaching, and listening. Quite simply, I offer education, encouragement, and accountability.

In such plain language this might not sound like much, but consider that diet and exercise are the most potent things on the planet for the prevention and treatment of most non communicable diseases. That alone is an amazing fact, but it still doesn’t capture the positive changes people see in their quality of life from even small improvements in how they look and feel.

For those with pain or stress, massage can often be a helpful part of finding relief. It may not always be the whole solution, but when faced with adversity, even brief comfort can mean the world. Yet it’s still entirely unclear how massage or any manual care helps, which has left the door open for many sorts of fantastical convictions where uncertainty should exist. When I massage another person, all that I can honestly say is that I am offering caring and informed touch in a safe space. In my eyes, manual care is a physical demonstration of honest compassion for another human being. The simple act of being present and paying attention has tremendous therapeutic value.

The author Douglas Adams asks “Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?” I think it is, and I fear that the search for fairies makes too many of us miss the beauty and wonder of the garden.

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