Medical Care, Health Care, Wellness, and a bicycle.

Hi all… I hope you are well and enjoying good health!

Before we get to what medical care, health, and wellness have to do with bicycles I have to back track a bit to see where this comes from, so bear with me. Being a massage therapist has many advantages -I get to spend a great deal of time considering the health and wellness environment. I am also fortunate that my work is multi-faceted but mostly active -I don’t spend too much time sitting. Though running my own business and working from home brings challenges to work/life balance, I can honestly say that I love my workspace and what I do for a living. One of the things I appreciate most about my practice is that it is never the same. Each person I treat brings their own unique set of issues and concerns and coming up with a treatment goal and plan is thoroughly engaging. At the core of my work with clients is the value I place on having clients feel they are equal partners in their treatment. I want them to have a clear understanding of what is causing the issue and what things they can do to participate in their recovery process. 

It also means I have to think outside of the box because everyone is different and finding answers for clients and developing a treatment plan can be complex. Even though this approach takes more work, it has afforded me the opportunity to delve deeply into the most up to date research about what helps people heal, move better, and feel better in their bodies. Most importantly I get to experience first-hand clients overcoming the challenges of dealing with their injury or condition and the positive effects this has on their well-being.

I feel I also have a unique perspective on health and wellness because I interact directly with many stakeholders from different professions. Medical professions, health and fitness professions as well as those who are linked with what might be termed the wellness profession. I began to see that each of these professions address important elements in our overall health and well-being. In addition, even though they may at times overlap, it is beneficial to look at them as distinct from each other to ensure that we recognize the role each plays in the treatment process. I’ve also started seeing a trend towards people being much more invested in their recovery and a shift to what might be called an integrated approach that treats the “whole person”.

Today I’d like to start the ball rolling (or in this case the bicycle) with some ideas to think about. What is the difference between medical care, health care, and wellness? And for good measure, why would it be important to differentiate these. What advantages or disadvantages do we have to consider if we over privilege of these over the others.

I prefer to differentiate these concepts as they tend to get muddled. and I’m going to use a bicycle to help illustrate these ideas. Well, a bicycle mechanic, taking care of a bike and a leisurely ride in the country to be more specific. So let’s dive in.

Medical care is like our heroic bicycle mechanic. They know the parts and pieces, how to take it apart and put it back together again and make it run smoothly. They have the best tools, and environment to work on our bikes when they need it and also let us know when things are wearing down a bit. They can even replace pieces with better pieces as they wear out. Yeah! We sure need our bicycle mechanics. However here are some things to note about our bicycle mechanic.

  1. They might not take good care of their own bike (in fact they may be so busy taking care of our bikes that theirs is sitting out in the rain getting a bit rusty.
  2. They might not know how to ride a bike (not likely, but possible)
  3. They might not know very much about how you like to ride your bike. (you might like leisurely rides in the country and they like to race.

Now let’s look at health -I see “health” is more about how you take care of your bike and how you use it. You ride it regularly, make sure there’s air in the tires, have decent tires, make sure your brakes work, don’t leave it out in the rain to get rusty. It is kept clean and well maintained. Along with this and it goes without saying – you don’t just leave it in the shed or locked up to your fence for months on end. Essentially, you take care of and use your bike well. This way it’s in good shape for a Saturday ride, to commute to work and back and can even be enjoyed in winter. One of the great things about this is you can be any age from kids to grandparents. Anybody can have a healthy relationship with their bike.

Taking this idea further, there are some great instructors and coaches who might help you become a better rider or to try things you haven’t tried before. Maybe taking a course in trail riding or trying out a fat bike. One thing about people who help us with healthy living. Usually they really want us to learn something and do it for ourselves.

I have also been thinking about the differences between being healthy and being fit and how important it is to distinguish these two concepts to ensure client’s exercise in a way that’s healthy. I have to think some more about this because I have worked with some clients who are really fit, but I wouldn’t call them healthy. As you can see… more on this later.

On to Wellness: Wellness comes from the inside and how we connect to outside. It has a lot to do with how we enjoy our bike and what it allows us to do. It would carry a component of how we interact with the world around us, other people on bikes, cars and pedestrians. We use our bike to go on community rides or bike tours. On our bikes, we feel connected with nature, we feel present and the ride to work gives us a chance to breathe and see what’s going on around us. There may be a component of wanting to ride more so there’s less impact on the earth. We also understand that using the bike more will help us be healthy and will help us feel better.

Biking Wellness Some things to think about from this. It is possible to have great medical care and not be healthy. It is also possible to be healthy and not have a connection to wellness. But working the other way. When we devote time to learning about wellness and committing time to this, there is usually a trickle down and we appreciate and make time for activities that make us healthy. Also having a sense of wellness can be a big help in preventing the need for medical care or when we do require medical care, we have better outcomes.

I personally would like to see what happens if we as a society devoted more time to wellness and healthy pursuits. What would the effect be on requirements for medical care. Our medical care system might be better off and could focus on those people who really need medical care. Maybe we should all take a course on general bicycle maintenance.

It is important to differentiate these ideas because the system doesn’t work well when we mistake medical care for health care or health care for wellness. We actually need all three with probably a little more emphasis on wellness and health. We will always at different times need medical care….but maybe less which would leave the medical system free to take care of those who really need it.

Looking forward to your comments here and remember…

Life can be complicated ~ feeling healthy shouldn’t be.


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