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The Magic of Marginal Gains

Updated: Jul 11, 2021

Guest Blogger, Shawna Bohn, is a friend and former colleague who

has also endured her own joint issues. She was so gracious to share her

thoughts towards recovery and forward movement.

Hindsight is always 20/20! I remember learning this phrase as a girl but it didn’t really have meaning to me until I had to endure 2 knee replacements. I know this is a blog about hips but, hey, knees are an important joint too and I believe we can all learn from these thoughts.

When thinking about hindsight being 20/20, it is definitely easier to analyze and evaluate situations when we’re looking back on them, than when we’re in the present moment. For instance, my knee replacements were about a year ago. When I look back, I notice the incremental changes that were made daily to help me recover well. However, when in the present moment dealing with the painful recovery of surgery and physical therapy I couldn’t see in front of me so at times I didn’t push for that daily small change.

In hindsight through my journey of physical therapy and recovery, I can see how important marginal gains are in our lives. What are marginal gains you ask? The doctrine of marginal gains is all about small incremental improvements in any process adding up to a significant improvement when they are added together. I learned about marginal gains when I was reading an article about Sir Dave Brailsford. When he became performance director of British Cycling, he set about breaking down the objective of winning races into its component parts. He believed that if you made 1% improvement in different areas those cumulative gains would end up being significant. One of the 1% improvements he made for his team was having the team members take their pillows with them when they would travel to help maximize their sleep. I get this, I take my pillow when I travel and love it. With Brailsford implementing incremental improvements with his cycling team, they ended up winning many Olympic medals.

I began to focus on the word incremental and looked up the definition. The definition of incremental is “occurring in especially small increments; incremental additions incremental change.” The words “especially small” stuck with me as it seems more reasonable to do especially small changes or additions to my life that will eventually make a significant difference. Working on improving 1% of different areas of my life is something I can ‘cycle’ on my friends whatever that may be.

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