Interview with Todd Hargrove of Better Movement

Todd HargroveTodd Hargrove is a Feldenkrais Practitioner and Rolfer living and practicing in Seattle. He writes a blog at BetterMovement.org, and is the author of two popular books about movement and pain: A Guide to Better Movement: The Science and Practice of Moving with More Skill and Less Pain and Playing With Movement: How to Explore the Many Dimensions of Physical Performance and Health. He is a featured author at Physio Network, and has been a featured speaker at the San Diego Pain Summit, Pain Cloud Oslo, and the Pain BC Conference.


Note: You should consult with your doctor or physical therapist for recommendations on treatment. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of Todd Hargrove and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of OnlinePhysicalTherapyPrograms.com


How did you become interested in manual and movement therapy?

Before becoming a manual therapist, I was an attorney for 10 years. During that time, I had some chronic back pain, which was probably related to physical emotional stress on the job. After trying and failing at physical therapy, I started to explore alternative treatment methods, such as massage, yoga, Pilates and resistance exercise. At the same time, I was competing at squash, and getting very interested in functional training as way to improve performance. I noticed significant connections between the messages I was hearing from the athletic trainers and the physical therapists, and I became fascinated in the connection between moving better and feeling better. I had great success in achieving with my goals, and eliminated my back pain. This got me interested in helping other people.

Has your prior experience as an attorney influenced any aspects of your current career?

Being an attorney helps develop a skeptical and evidence-based attitude, because you know you need to support your arguments against someone who will be attacking them. I think this translates well to interpreting the meaning of scientific papers. Another useful aspect of legal training is learning to write persuasively, and to translate complex fact patterns into simple narratives.   

What inspired you to start Better Movement?

I started the blog as a resource for friends and clients, letting them know the most useful and actionable things I learned studying movement and pain. Most of the early posts were simply answers to questions that I was asked frequently by clients. Eventually the audience grew.

What do you hope your readers get out of the information you share with them?

The bottom line is to help people improve their physical function and get out of pain. In most cases, the most useful information I provide is simply correcting common myths about pain. 

What are some of the most important things we have learned about pain in recent years? Have there been any shift in how we approach pain in healthcare/as a society?

The most important thing we have learned is that pain is highly complex, depending on a wide variety of factors. Although these facts are now widely acknowledged in theory, practice is still focused almost exclusively on a small subset of these factors, such as tissue damage, posture, or movement patterns. As such, we are ignoring the importance of psychosocial variables.

What are some of the challenges to getting those with pain the care they need?

I think one of the major challenges is bringing practice in line with the science. Unfortunately, a great deal of therapy provided to people in pain is not supported by strong evidence.

How can professionals learn to stay up to date on evidence?

There are many excellent blogs, Facebook groups and websites devoted to providing professionals with up-to-date information relevant to their job. One excellent resource where I contribute is the Physio Network.

What advice do you have for those who are interested in becoming manual and movement therapists?

Develop a skeptical and evidence-based perspective on what you are taught. Question everything! Also, recognize that in many cases, providing good therapy is less about following algorithms, and more about forming a good therapeutic alliance.