Our newest podcast is a great conversation with Kevin Hughes and I'd encourage everyone to download it and listen. Kevin is a long-time comedian with many honors and probably one of the deepest thinkers I've ever known. Plus, as most comedians are, he may be one of the most astute observers of human behavior out there. Kevin has had a long and burning interest in health - both physical and mental health - and often this interest and his observations come up in his comedy. So while we may laugh, what can we really learn from a comedian?
We have to remember that we can learn a great deal in Sports Medicine from the folks that are actually trying to 'do' exercise - the so-called 'end user'. Sometimes we sports scientists and practitioners take for granted so many things that are really not obvious to the end-user. So, it can be quite illuminating to hear the observations of the end users which can help sports medicine scientists and practitioners alike develop and tailor programs and exercises that everyone will use and incorporate into their life. While these end users may not know all the exact statistics and theories, they often can describe quite distinctly what worked in the 'real world' and what didn't. Our friend Dave Epstein from Sports Illustrated clearly describes in a great article just this issue in regard to the use of steroids to boost performance. By and large the end-users (athletes) generally ignore sports scientists about the dangers of steroid use because the sports scientists have not had the same experiences with steroids as the athletes have. This is a clear disconnect that is based primarily on the end-users' experiences and their perception of sports medicine truth.
I'm not advocating that everyone start using steroids, but I am advocating that we all start listening to each other. It is to easy to disregard the end-user's exercise experiences because they 'don't know as much as we experts do'. AND the end-user needs to be open to listening to the real experts in sports medicine and not folks who have read a few articles and think they are experts (sounds like a good topic for another blog). So, while we scientists and practitioners work to figure out how to help both athletes and comedians perform better and be healthier using sports medicine, we've got to listen to the end-user to find out if our recommendations really make sense in the real world. After all, if the end-user isn't active or doesn't exercise, our efforts don't mean much in the long run.