Mastering your craft…..the importance of continuous training of manual skills
This clip was taken from an FAP Spine seminar this past weekend in Ottawa. In it, I discuss the concept of training and practice of manual skill.
It has always seemed odd to me that in any other artistic/physical/manual endeavour, participants understand the importance of continuous skill practice with a hope of mastery. You see this general idea permeate the world of athletics, music, etc. In the world of manual therapy, there seems to be a general notion that one a concept or skill is “learned” (I put this in quotations as often that is reduced to “seen”), it is automatically incorporated into our neural programming….further, that mastery of the concept/skill will come with time. However blind repetition has never amounted to skill development. When one performs a manipulation, or soft tissue technique in practice, how conscious/present are they during its execution? How much of their attention is dedicated to what is being done/felt…and how much of it is being absorbed into the ongoing stresses of running a practice, balancing the finances, etc?
This discuss came up recently with a colleague of mine when we were discussing what makes an “expert” in the field of manual care. It is my view that most define it based on years of experience…however I would argue that one year of conscious dedication can trump 20 years of non-conscious practice when it comes to our discipline. This is not to belittle experience as I do admire and respect it. I am only making the distinction between “doing” for a long time vs. “practicing” for a long time.
This concept comes off the heels of an ever growing pessimism that I see and feel surrounding the “manual” part of “manual” medicine as individuals are increasingly questioning the benefits of manual applications and replacing them (in some cases fully) with exercise prescription. This I believe is being done in the pursuit of “evidence based practice.” IMO – this is not evidence based…this is a retreat from what is needed which is a DESIRE to improve the techniques that we know to be effective…..a desire to become masters of our craft.