Ep 132 – Healing Through Functional Movement with Dr. Amy West

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“What does good movement mean?  And what are the principles of good movement?  And sometimes people have a hard time articulating that, physiatrists, physical therapists included.  Because we focus a lot on, “is this person strong, do they pass these strength tests?”  But we don’t look at that necessarily from a more central nervous system standpoint of how is this person moving, what is the coordination and neuromuscular involvement in certain tasks. Even in physiatry that’s a bit of a novel concept, surprisingly.” – Dr. Amy West

Dr. Amy West is a Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation specialist, also known as a physiatrist.  This little-known specialty treats a wide variety of medical conditions affecting the nervous and skeletal systems by focusing treatment on addressing root causes and restoring function.

Dr. West is a graduate of Harvard Medical School, and she completed her residency in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital.  During her time in medical school, she also earned her Master’s of Education with an emphasis on video technology and medical education.

As a CrossFit Level 1 Trainer and active participant in the CrossFit Health movement, Dr. West sees many parallels between the medicine she practices in the clinic and the CrossFit methodology she sees practiced in affiliates.

I was excited to chat with Dr. West at the Winter Classic to learn more about how physiatry can be used to bridge the gap from acute sickness to wellness,  and to hear how she explains her pro-CrossFit viewpoint to critics in medicine.

In this episode we discuss:

  • Dr. West’s career prior to medicine, and the driving factors that led to her career change
  • Why she chose to pursue Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation (PM&R), also known as physiatry
  • Dr. West’s athletic background and how she became involved with CrossFit
  • What is PM&R
  • How PM&R works alongside physical therapy and rehabilitation
  • How physiatry focuses on root causes and functionality
  • The parallels between physiatry and CrossFit
  • How Dr. West overcomes the stigma against CrossFit within the medical community
  • The opportunities she sees to bridge acute rehab/sickness and wellness
  • What her practice is like, and how she incorporates CrossFit-type practices with her patients
  • Her response to people who think they “can’t do CrossFit”
  • How Dr. West navigates the strained relationship between the NSCA and CrossFit, and how she thinks the recent ruling against the NSCA will impact the fitness community
  • The challenge of corrupt research studies
  • Three things Dr. West does on a regular basis that have the biggest positive impact on her health
  • One thing she struggles to implement that could have a big impact on her health
  • What a healthy life looks like to Dr. West

You can follow Dr. West on Instagram and Twitter.


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Disclaimer: This podcast is meant to share the experiences of various individuals. It does not provide medical advice, and it is not a substitute for advice from your physician or health care professional.


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