Going to the doctor sucks for most people. It’s even worse if your insurance mandates you see someone you don’t like.
Not all doctor’s are the same, of course. But, what if the doctor caring for you has Gregory House MD’s demeanor, but not his diagnostic prowess?
What’s the best way to persuade your doctor?
Keep the following in mind:
- Don’t go head to head with a doctor on stuff they think they know ancillary to their expertise, like exercise. Do ask questions and ask the doctor to explain their point of view.
- Don’t fret if you do not get the cooperation you desired. Do keep seeking common ground.
- Don’t try to impress the doctor with your vast knowledge of exercise and nutrition. Do talk in simple terms.
- Don’t correct the doctor by quoting research. Do find something you can agree upon and focus on that subject.
So you are hurt and you want to keep doing Crossfit because you saw Kelly Starrett’s videos
Working out increases blood flow and promotes healing. It drives insulin sensitivity, restores proteins and gets the whole system looking for anabolic enzymes.
Having practiced and worked with patients as a chiropractor for over 10 years and an avid Crossfit aficionado for three, allow me to offer one doctor’s perspective. Although I applaud your enthusiasm to return to Crossfit following an injury it is important you work with your doctor for recovery. Influence and persuasion is a two-way road.
Having given a lot of professional advice to patients over the years, I can say not everyone follows it. This is frustrating for a doctor too, because it can slow someones recovery time. Patients that have worked with me and developed an effective plan recovered quicker than non compliant patients. Attempting to convince a doctor Crossfit is different is futile unless they have an interest. It’s obvious fat doctors don’t have an interest in exercise and nutrition.
You want answers to these questions:
1. How bad is the injury?
What’s damaged and how long is the estimated recovery time best case and worse case scenario? Different tissue takes variable times to heal. The more complex the tissue the longer it takes to heal. If you break a bone and damage a nerve the general rule is the nerve will take 5 times longer to fully heal. Wounds of the skin and muscles following surgery or injury must also heal.
2. What activities can you physically do?
Take stock in what you can move without hurting. This will determine the movements and Crossfit programming for rehab. Combine the best of what your doctor(s) and Crossfit trainers suggest. Where there is conflict, set that aside until a later time. The most important thing is do what you can with what you’ve got.
Persuading your doctor is merely an attempt to seek agreement.
Ask the doctor exactly what he thinks the recovery program should look like from start to finish. Pick the points of disagreement and address them one at a time from most to least important. You may not get through all the points on one visit, so note them for a later visit.
If you are a Crossfit trainer, or working with one, always emphasize the idea to the doctor everyone is working for your benefit and speedy recovery.
Keep in mind that many doctors disagree about what research means. Reference “Good Calories Bad Calories” by Gary Taubes for the studies that led to all fat being considered evil. Experts often can’t agree on the meaning of research.
When I began my research, I had no idea that I would come to believe that obesity is not caused by eating too much, or that exercise is not a means of prevention. Nor did I believe that diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s could be caused by the consumption of refined carbohydrates and sugars.
The main push behind the research was the idea that doctors tend to overscreen for cervical cancer, thus spending a lot of money.
Dr. Ioannidis has done a real service by pointing out that even high-visibility medical studies published in major journals are often contradicted or modified by subsequent research.
The majority of the medical community agrees that care is futile when it does not achieve its purpose. But medical ethicist Dr. Norman Fost, professor of pediatrics and bioethics, University of Wisconsin, cautioned that there is no definitive definition of futile treatments.
According to Peter Ramsden, people have three primary motivational needs:
1. Need to Achieve
2. Need of Authority/Influence or Power
3. Need for Affiliation
Persuade Achievers by:
Talking facts and figures – if you want to persuade your doctor with facts and figures then know your topic well. Show them you read up on the material and understand it. Don’t whip out a recent article you saw in Time magazine. Read the research the writer used for the time magazine article.
Focus on the task and results more than the relationship – much of persuasion has to do with an emotional bond. Achievers respond by focusing on the the goals and results, not emotions. Providing ongoing reports on your rehab progress will get more cooperation from your doctor. Show them you are getting better.
Do not miss a commitment – keep your agreed appointment schedule. If you miss an appointment make it up. This let’s the doctor know you are serious.
Persuade Power types by:
Find ways to let them believe the idea was theirs – even if it was not. This may mean broaching the subject of contention on one office visit and then let it set until the next visit. You may be surprised on your next visit when the doctor tells you it’s okay to do the thing he told you not previously.
Provide them with options – ask, “Doc, you say I can’t squat. Is it okay if I sit and get out of a chair?” Of course they will agree. So you modify your squats to involve a chair until you are strong enough to progress further. Coach Gregg Glassman talks about this very issue in his Invincible Ignorance video at Crossfit.
Ask them for advice – they will love you for this. Just ask for advice in the areas of least contention. If the doctor says no overhead exercise ask for their advice on putting something up on a high shelf. They will probably agree this is okay. Avoid placing them in a position where they lose face. Telling your doctor he was wrong after you do the very squats he told you not to is a recipe for a broken doctor/patient relationship. Your recovery is most important here, not being right.