2016: Annus mirabilis or annus horribilis?

If you know a bit of Latin you will know that Annus Mirabilis means an auspicious year, whereas Annus Horribilis means the exact opposite. Personally I think 2016 has been a remarkable year for many reasons, both good and bad. So I thought I would finish this years blogging with a review of some of the key events in 2016, from the good, to the bad, and even the ugly.
So first there have been some unprecedented and unexpected events that have shook and shocked the world in 2016, such as the UK voting to leave Europe with Brexit, to the utter catastrophe that is Donald Trump becoming the president of the USA. There have also been many horrendous and heartless acts of war and terrorism across the world, particularly in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, as well as closer to home with terrorist attacks in Brussels, Nice, Turkey, and recently Berlin. All of these repulsive and ugly things make 2016 a year like no other.
There has also been some horrific natural disasters in 2016, such as the out break of the Zika virus, earthquakes in Ecuador, Indonesia, New Zealand, and Italy, and countless storms across the world causing untold amounts of death, disruption, and devastation.
And lets not forget the passing of some much loved, much admired, and much talented people such as the musical legends David Bowie, Prince, Leonard Cohen, and very recently George Michael, actors Gene Wilder and Alan Rickman, and also very recently Carrie Fisher and her mother Debbie Reynolds. We have also lost author Harper Lee, diplomats Boutrus-Ghali and Shimon Perez, comedians Ronnie Corbett, Andrew Sachs, Victoria Wood and Caroline Athern, and sports legends Johan Cryuff, Arnold Palmer, and of course the great Muhammad Ali.
And to top off all this heartache, the cherry on the shitty cake of 2016 was the news that ‘Great British Bake Off’ was finishing on the BBC! Aaaaargh, what else could go wrong?

Annus Horribilis?

So when you look back on 2016 you could be forgiven for thinking that it has been a terrible year, a huge dung heap of crapola, a great big pile of stinky shitty shit, and I wouldn’t disagree that much. This year has been a pretty shitty one for me as well, having some family and close friends diagnosed with serious and terminal illnesses making me realise that life is short, precious, and not to be taken for granted.
There has also been many professional challenges for me in 2016, from working 40+ hours a week in clinic, as well as a busy teaching and lecturing schedule, combined with a couple of clinical research trials, and of course continuing to do my blogs and some podcasts has all made 2016 a really, really tough year. In fact I will admit it has at times nearly wiped me out.
And on top of this there have been the usual online fiascos, debates, disagreements, complaints, accusations, and personal attacks to deal with. In fact this years debacles seem to have been unusually frequent, particularly petty, and annoyingly asinine.
From the recent #ShittyGate with complaints about a comment I made about a paper I read 2 years ago, to #InfographicGate with accusations of my deliberate deceit and hidden agendas around the NICE low back pain guidelines, even #OsteopractorGate and #ProfanityGate way back at the beginning of the year with official complaints about a tongue in cheek blog I did here about the effects of swearing on pain.
Now many will say that I bring these issues on myself, and as much as I do accept and recognise that these disagreements online can and do occur due to my strong views, opinions, and propensity to speak my mind, many of these online debacles are usually nothing more than diversionary smoke and mirrors from some arrogant academic, pompous PhD candidate, or elitist educational guru, with vested interests or a personal agenda.
These people often claim offence or outrage at my ‘style‘ or ‘tone‘ or ‘words‘ I use when I question and challenge others ideas and claims. However, most who complain about me and my methods, and who try to humiliate, shame, or embarrass me are simply hiding behind a very thin veil of offence, fake unity, false humility, with their claims of more respect or positivity needed.
What they actually mean and what they actually want is for me to stop challegening or critiquing their own, or friends of theirs work or ideas. They want me to change my opinion to their own, or to say things how they would say things, and not to challenge, joke, or take the piss like I do because it doesn’t agree or fit with their own ideals or morals.
So I will state once more, as I have done before, that I will not stop doing what I do, nor will I change the way I do it. You may think I am too blunt, too direct, too harsh, too critical, too skeptical, even too unprofessional, and it may offend or upset you, but again I will state this is YOUR problem, not mine. Deal with it.
And regardless of what my haters or any others may say, I know in myself that I challenge and question things not to create attention, gain followers, or denigrate or discredit my profession, but because I want my profession to change, to improve, and be the best it can be. To do this I do believe the widespread inappropriate, misleading, shitty advice, treatment, and research needs to be challenged more often, more directly, more harshly, and more publicly, by those on the front line, the hard working clinicians dealing and working with those that it affects the most, the patients.
In my opinion very little has changed for the majority in how physiotherapy operates and practices in decades, nor will it ever do so unless more challenge, question, and shake the eminence based quagmire our profession is stuck in with its unquestionable gurus, archaic dinosaurs, and stuffy professors.
Ok, rant over, moving on.

Annus Miribilis?

Now although 2016 has been a challenging year it hasn’t been a complete crap fest. In fact when I look back at all that has happened it has been an amazing 12 months globally. For example this year has seen tiger and panda numbers in the wild increase for the first time in a century, and huge advances made in finding cures and treatments for HIV and Cancers, and lets not forget that Leicester City FC won the premier league, the Chicago Cubs won the world baseball series, and Andy Murray won Wimbledon, we even had a British astronaut on the international space station.
For me 2016 has also been a memorable year for some really good reasons, from speaking at the Norwegian Sports Medicine Conference and meeting all my Scandinavian friends and colleagues again, to being a small part of the successful CSPs myth-busters campaign that has started to see a shift in thinking by those in authority in how we publicise physiotherapy to the general public, long may it continue.
I have also been really fortunate to have had the opportunity to visit 9 different countries in 2016, and hold 16 workshops talking about, ranting about, and raving about my experiences and frustrations as a physio. It has been great to meet so many therapists across the world and share my views and opinions on the research and evidence, and discuss how I manage those with pain mainly in the shoulder. I would like to thank everyone who has come to one of my courses and made them such fun, except for that one delegate who just wouldn’t shut up asking questions they already knew the answer to just to make a point, if you’re reading this, you know who you are, you’re a knob head!
I am also proud to say I have managed to complete a couple of clinical research trials in 2016. Its been good to dip my toes into the research world, and it has opened my eyes to the challenges of clinical research, such as finding and recruiting subjects is bloody difficult, almost as difficult as trying to avoid and minimise bias. But as much of an arse ache as its been trying to fit this research in and around an already packed schedule, I do recommend that more clinicians try to get involved in research.
I would like to personally thank Chris Littlewood for his help and bravery in being willing to assist a novice knob head like myself try and get some research published. Unfortunately one trial didn’t have the minimals to make it to publication, the other we are still writing up and hopefully will be more successful. Watch this space.
I am also proud to say that I have managed to get a couple of editorials published in peer reviewed journals this year, as well as having writtern a chapter on buttock pain for the sports physios and doctors bible, Brukner and Khans Clinical Sports Medicine (5th edition). It is a huge privilege to be a part of this iconic literature with so many other great therapists, clinicians, and researchers. Watch out for the new edition out very soon!
Finally I would like to thank all of you, the 40k+ subscribers to this blog. Never, ever did I imagine that my blog would get to this level and as hard as it has been to find time to keep up with the critical thinking, challenging blogs, your feedback and support has always been appreciated. Your patience with my spelling and grammar errors is also very much appreciated.
So I will sign off 2016 by saying it has been a remarkable and memorable year. Some will remember the horribilis, some will remember the mirabilis… I will remember it as mixture of both. I hope you all have a restful, fun filled festive season. Please remember to be thankful for all you have, and for all those around you, and without sounding too happy clappy and annoying, please try and be a little better each day than you were the day before. This includes being caring and considerate, but also brave and bold in your critical thinking and challenging of the dogma.
As always thanks for reading



  1. Hi Adam,
    We all have a story to tell and 2016 for me shared ups and downs from my wife being diagonised with stage 1a womb cancer, having “the op women do” and now in remission to my mother in law also being diagonised with breast cancer and “having the op” now successfully in remission.
    The more positive parts of 2016 being eventually completing the development of my innovative fitness equipment and reshuffling my marketing strategy.
    But, the most significant change for me with all these things happening is to draw closer to God.
    Have a lovely Christmas and be set to take on (like me!!0 2017

  2. Hi Adam, I joined your email list because it had some great clinical information and links to evidence based practise. I also enjoyed some of your morecontentious opinions. However, and I know you can take criticism, this year, dare I say that your posts have mainly become rants. Can you please get back to the clinical stuff? Many thanks for all the obvious hard work you put in and I hope to meet you one day on one of your courses.
    (You’ll probably black lust me now!) have a lovely Christmas.

  3. Adam,
    Just wanted to thank you for continuing to do your blog in the midst of an already busy schedule. I look forward to reading your twitter page and I think we need more people like you to shake up the physio world. Some days, just reading your page keeps me from losing my sh** on patients and therapists alike. Knowing that others share the same frustrations but keep pushing for change is encouraging. Merry Christmas.

  4. Thanks Adam, as a newly graduated Physio starting work, you and your twitter colleagues have challenged my thinking and raised plenty of questions about what and why we do things. I am grateful, intrigued and excited about a future in Physiotherapy. I look forward to blogs, tweets and ‘other’ stuff in 2017. Kate

  5. Don’t mind the haters mate! It just means you’re doing something right
    Any plans on coming to HK or Australia for a sneaky course?

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