Today there is more access to information then ever. This access to information is no more prevalent than in the realms of health, medicine, fitness/performance, or any other area of athletic physical therapy. Anyone with a social media account can quickly find thousands of posts related to these topics which creates a whole new challenge.
Because everyone can promote themselves as an expert on social media, it is essential to have a discerning eye for quality information. Unfortunately, social media platforms, such as Instagram, do not promote posts based on the validity of the information presented.
Amongst such a vast array of information, how do you determine when you should ignore a social media post related to health, fitness, or performance physical therapy information?
- The presenter speaks in absolutes. Commonly the best answer that a professional can give you is “it depends.” The reason for this is that a person’s experience is context dependent and is the result of several different factors that must be considered together. For example, stretching or improving mobility is often promoted as a “fix” for a given injury. However, this does not apply to those that have more important problems to solve or possess full range of motion in the area being discussed. For more information on this topic, check out our post on Is Mobility Overrated? Furthermore, it is impossible to know of every possible factor that could be contributing to pain, injury, limitations, or challenges. Therefore, even the best among us cannot claim to be 100% certain, especially on social media.
- The information is unnecessarily complicated. An expert can take a complex topic and break it down so that it makes sense to you. Overly complicated terminology and unnecessary use of medical jargon are red flags that the presenter may not fully understand the material being presented.
- Promoting personal success stories as evidence. Personal success stories are anecdotal. The definition of anecdotal is “not necessarily true or reliable, because based on personal accounts rather than facts or research.” Many medical and fitness professional post personal success stories as evidence for the validity of their method, approach, or something that they are attempting to market. This ignores all the other factors that may have contributed to these results (see #1 above). Even if the results being presented are valid, it only applies to the person being shown. Quality research commonly requires thousands of trials before being considered valid. A case study of 1 or 2 people only applies to the people being referenced and ignores your unique circumstances.
**Bonus: If a presenter promotes “quick fixes”, run!
Discerning quality from poor information is very challenging in the modern age. Everyone can promote themselves as an expert, however there are several ways to determine when it is best to ignore a presenter. These are just a few of several ways that you can do so.