The purpose of this podcast is to help share knowledge and motivate people to move more. We’ll regularly discuss the benefits of movement, address common questions on injury prevention, recovery, and we’ll also celebrate stories from fellow experts in athletics, medicine, and of course, physical therapy.

In this episode, we’ll be discussing the sickness, wellness, fitness continuum of health. Listen to the full podcast above or check out the show notes below.

Dr. Scott Jablonka

Dr. Jablonka is a performance physical therapist, specializing in orthopedics. While he enjoys general orthopedics, he loves post-operative shoulder and overhead athletes. He also works closely with weight lifters and cross-fitters.

Dr. Scott Jablonka with Carolina Movement Doc.

Originally from the Syracuse, New York area, he did his undergraduate and graduate studies at Daemen College in Buffalo, New York. He came to Charlotte about 6 years ago because of the milder winters and because it is beautiful in Charlotte. There are “tons of sunshine, lower taxes, and good people.

He has invested 11 years in movement analysis, manual therapy skills, corrective exercise techniques, modality training. He pairs this with a strong background in teaching and learning, which is where his passion lies. He created the Carolina Movement Doc educational platform and cash-based therapy practice. He founded this to help educate people and help people to move more without the restrictions of insurance. He also uses social media, which is a free medium, to help.

In the evenings he also coaches CrossFit as a way to help people establish a healthier lifestyle, build strength, build confidence and do it in a fun atmosphere.

Sickness, wellness, and fitness continuum of health

This usually comes from the CrossFit world. And before you wrinkle your nose at the word ”CrossFit”, remember the purpose is to help people move. There’s a lot of backlash. Is it bad? Is it good? And honestly, it doesn’t really matter, it helps people move, just like running does, just like yoga does. Whatever gets you moving, it’s fine with Jablonka. CrossFit is is his poison of choice.

The whole methodology and philosophy are more of a sickness, wellness, and fitness continuum of health. So when asked, ”Hey, doc what’s healthy to you? What would you define
as health?” he defers to the sickness, wellness, and fitness continuum. Anybody in the medical field can really go off on a nice short thesis or dissertation on what health is, but Scott doesn’t have enough time for that and neither do most people. He instead dials it down to this continuum of sickness, wellness, and fitness.

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What is the sickness, wellness, and fitness continuum?

Picture: You have a piece of paper in front of you, and on the left side of that paper, write down ”sickness.” Next, draw a line from the left towards the center of the paper. At the center point write ”wellness.” Continue to draw that line all the way to the right side of your piece of paper and finally write ”fitness.” This is the continuum of sickness, wellness, and fitness.

The medical field loves to use numbers like blood pressure, body fat percentage, BMI, HBA1C, cholesterol, triglycerides. All these numbers help decide where we fall on this sickness, wellness, and fitness spectrum. Our doctors usually like to pull blood work, because blood just doesn’t lie to you. You can’t say, ”oh, I’m healthy,” but your blood says your A1C is ridiculous and your blood pressure is through the roof. In which case you might be put in a different spot on this continuum.

Where do you fall on the continuum?

Think about yourself and figure out where you might fall on this particular. Are you towards the sick side? Are you gonna fall towards wellness? Or are you super, super fit? Let’s break it down.

When we talk about blood pressure, 120/80 is the gold standard. That’s what people shoot for. This places you in the wellness part, dead center. Not too much sickness, not too much fitness.

Now let’s say you have super high blood pressure, like 190/110. That would move you towards the ”sickness” realm. You may need to do something to help manage your blood pressure to get it back to that 120/80 and beyond.

Considering body fat percentage, let’s say you 40% body fat. That’s a lot of body fat, which will move you towards ”sickness.” If you are around 15-20%, you’d move towards wellness. And 10% or less will push that towards the ”fitness.”

You see these numbers as they shift we label that as a certain point on the sickness, wellness, and fitness continuum. This is where Jablonka’s philosophy lies: we don’t have to be perfect and super fit all the time. We should instead be conscious of where we hover and where our comfort zone is. If our comfort zone is somewhere between ”sickness” and ”wellness”, well, that speaks to how resilient we might be as human beings.

Why strive for fitness?

However, fit people are harder to kill. It’s not 100% of the time, but by and large, stronger people are harder to kill. For instance, we have somebody who is very fit, low body weight, they have a healthy lifestyle and eat clean for the most part. They might have some unhealthy habits here and there, but their lifestyle is more health and fitness. They work out a lot, they do a lot of strength training, they build a lot of muscle mass in their body. Their body fat percentage is low, their blood pressure is on point, cholesterol is in check, triglycerides, all really, really good. They would fall towards the fitness side.

Picture said person on the right side of the continuum you drew, the fitness side. If something were to happen to that particular individual. It’s gonna take a heck of a lot of threats to their system to drag them back down into the ‘sickness realm. There’s a whole lot of room that they need to travel. Fitness will often provide a nice little buffer zone of falling back into the sickness realm

Meanwhile, someone who is dead center with good blood pressure and decent body fat may get injured or face a higher risk of becoming immobile. It doesn’t take nearly as much to have their body spiral down to the sickness realm.

Fitness is like building a buffer zone. This is why we preach health and wellness. In Jablonka’s case as a health professional, it’s his job to educate people on the importance of going beyond wellness into fitness.

Fitness is relative

If are you older or if you are younger, your fitness might look a little different. Regardless it’s resilient and its ability to fight off external and internal threats is exponentially better when we are in the fitness realm compared to the sickness side.

How does the continuum help with chronic disease?

When was the last time you got checked by the doctor? When was the last time you went to the gym? When was the last time you had home-cooked meals on the healthier side? How often are you eating out? Are you cooking good, healthy, whole foods?

Ultimately, what you want to completely avoid chronic disease. This is a pandemic that has been sticking around for centuries, it is the idea of chronic disease. And it gets worse the more processed food we have, the more sedentary the lifestyle. Chronic disease wreaks havoc, especially when it comes to pain.

These are the diseases that stick around haunt us and we struggle to manage it. Things like diabetes and high blood pressure (fun fact: 70% of deaths in the US are attributed to chronic disease).

In Jablonka’s opinion, chronic disease is something we can severely and significantly affect through movement, through healthier life decisions. He believes it will allow us to pull ourselves from this sickness realm beyond the wellness realm into the fitness realm of the continuum. By doing that, we can limit the amount of deaths in the United States. Of the 2.6 million people who died in the United States in 2014, about 1.8 million died from chronic disease. 1.8 million! That is an absurd amount of people that could have been saved or had their life prolonged by focusing on how fit we can be.

It is estimated by the CDC that the United States could have up to 100 million diabetics in 2050. Yes, some of it is genetic, relying on our ability to process sugars in our body. Not everything can be managed through diet and exercise but a lot of it can.

Sometimes all it takes is a lifestyle change. It’s going to take a whole lotta lifestyle change to take somebody from sickness to fitness. We have to start by going through wellness. And this starts with simple, small changes in our lifestyle. It doesn’t have to be revolutionary, it doesn’t have to be complete 180 like a born-again fitness freak. It just has to be small little steps for a healthier lifestyle.

Carolina Movement Doc

If you’d like to learn more about Dr. Jablonka and Carolina Movement Doc, follow his Instagram page for knowledge-share videos, motivational posts, and success stories.