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  • Writer's pictureTanner Benedict

Physics, Pottery and Physical Therapy: A Wonderful Journey to a Beautiful Destination

Updated: Jun 22, 2023

The world works in mysterious ways, or simply put "Life... is simply life". "Birth" or the beginning is merely a static point in time to allow for perspective of the future to be created. If we are fortunate enough through this journey, we get to experience many ups, downs and arounds with a roller coaster of emotions interwoven within. Yet, as humans we always seem to gravitate towards the destination and forget the true purpose, A wonderful journey to a beautiful destination.

Camping with the family.
Tanner Benedict (Me) and Joel Snipes (Cousin) enjoying the lakeside vibes.

The journey for me began years ago in the quiet town of Whitefish. Surrounded by many generations of family I was immediately introduced to the beauties of Glacier National Park, fishing for monster Mac's on Flathead Lake and rambunctious campfire lit evenings on Seeley Lake with family and friends. Throughout these years several things remained constant: physics, pottery and physical therapy.

First, I always gravitated towards math and science-based projects and programs. I can still remember the excitement of building a battle robot with Jacob Washer in Mr. Ruffatto's Power and Energy class, which was really some of my earliest preparation to apply physics-based concepts to anatomical application. Also, destroying the competition helped ingrain the memory with a positive note. The concepts that I learned in that course I apply to being a physical therapist constantly, whether I am educating patients on leverage or postural education classes at Whitefish High School in Mrs. Schneider's classroom teaching kids how to use body mechanics to improve their functional abilities.

Several years passed and I continued to find excitement in the realm of physics with my introduction to Professor Bundle's Biomechanics lab at the University of Montana. At that time his primary focus was improving top end speeds of Grizzly athletes on a custom treadmill that could reach higher level speeds, as well as measure ground force reactions from force plates built within (specifically sprint based track athletes). My brain fell in love with the idea of understanding the math beyond just the numbers, but the real-world application and how to make the human body adapt to stimulus to achieve a desired effect. The knowledge I gained from these events is priceless, and by all means helped lead me to where I am now.

Second, I always had an appreciation for the arts. Whether it is was painting, sketching, metal fabrication or pottery I enjoyed it. Having this appreciation lead me to several great instructors who allowed me the freedom to create my own imaginations in the material world. Mr. Christensen, the Whitefish Highschool pottery teacher at the time, was one in particular. From the first moment on the wheel, I experienced the same enjoyment that I have always experienced with fly fishing, which is no light matter in my world.

Pottery by Tanner Benedict
The turtle "slip'd" into the bowl (pottery pun for fun) by Tanner Benedict.

Throughout the next several years I took multiple courses at the high school and college level learning to make a wide variety of usable kitchen items, piggy banks and various random pieces of what I would term as "abstract art". (Sierra loves the goblin tower currently in our kitchen). All the time I was unaware of the skill I was developing for my future. Years spent on the wheel helped me developed abilities to see and feel minute details that others may miss, which now as a physical therapist I use constantly with movement pattern correction and manual techniques. All those years on the wheel leads me to the question of "Would I have been able to live my dream life as a physical therapist without those revolutions of the wheel?", in all honesty, I wouldn't be half the physical therapist I am today without it.

The final piece, my own pains. In my late middle school years, I developed Sever's disease in both of the feet (One of the most common issues with young adults in their growth years effecting the growth plates of the calcaneus--heel bone). As a young athlete this was traumatizing both physically and emotionally. I was forced to sit out of athletics for almost an entire year with physical therapy as my bridge to getting back to the gridiron as a football player and the mat as a wrestler. Countless hours of home exercise program completion, rest and allowing my body to finish growing (Unfortunately that stopped a little shorter then hoped) were my tools to get back to what I loved. Pain in that time taught me compliance, discipline and determination and I found faith in the idea that the human body can heal and be even better than it was before, but it takes WORK. I hope that when past patients (and future) read this, they can now see why I push for them to believe in themselves and the programs I make. There is light at the end of the tunnel and pain is not your future, it's your past, but you have to WANT it because living a pain free life is not simply given, it is earned.

In the book "The Way of Kings" written by Brandon Sanderson a quote resonates within my mind, "Life before Death. Strength before Weakness. Journey before Destination." Simple words, yet powerful in the correct perspective. I have now given you a look into my journey which has led me to where I am today. I am honored to be a part of the Whitefish community and look forward to serving the incredible people that make it the mountain town we all know and love as a proud Co-Owner of Snow Ghost Physical Therapy. Now, there is only one last question.

"Have you enjoyed the journey, or have you fixated on the destination?"

Two Medicine cabin, Glacier National Park
Two Medicine cabin, Glacier National Park. The boat captain's chalet. A piece of my journey.


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