Powerlifting Provides Dr. Huaiyu Tan with Perspective on Caring for Patients with Active Lifestyles

Andrews Institute for Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist, Huaiyu Tan, M.D., Ph.D., finds solace in the stress relief potential that powerlifting provides him. However, while the therapeutic qualities of powerlifting are present, Dr. Tan is more attracted to the objectivity behind the sport.

“The results are measurable,” said Dr. Tan. “Your numbers either go up or down, so there is no element of subjectivity. Powerlifting has been an important stress relief for me. It also adds a component to the intellectual side of my life. I also think that as a physician, it gives me a unique perspective on injuries, how to work around injuries, and how to help a patient overcome them.”

That objectivity is paralleled into his practice when explaining to patients about the pathway to recover from an injury.

“I think that competing in powerlifting gives me perspective so that I can help the patient break down their recovery into small achievable goals,” said. Dr. Tan. “Those small achievable goals, added over a long period of time, yield a measurable improvement.”

Dr. Tan’s experience with powerlifting also gives him perspective on promoting an active lifestyle.

“I think that (powerlifting) gives me similar perspective in terms of getting patients back to an active lifestyle from being injured,” said Dr. Tan. “I’ve had my own share of injuries. I can better understand the mindset of patients who want to get back to an active lifestyle but have something that prevents them from doing so.”

Powerlifting as a competitive sport has provided Dr. Tan with a pathway to maintaining an active lifestyle, but does not limit his ability to interact and speak the language with all active individuals who are patients at Andrews Institute.

“There is an athlete in all of us,” said Dr. Tan. “Whether you are trying to get back on gym floor and dead lift again, or regain your ability to walk without the use of a cane, or trying to get back to playing with your grand kids. A physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist can help you optimize or improve your function.”

As an interventional pain medicine specialist, Dr. Tan has learned through powerlifting that proper back mechanics are important in preventing back injury.

“When lifting objects in daily life, one should keep the object close to his or her body and maintain a neutral spine,” said Dr. Tan. “One’s ability to brace and maintain tightness is what is defined as ‘core stability’. The other concept is ‘hip hinge,’ meaning all of the movements come from the hip. So naturally having strong legs, flexible legs, and a stiff core is beneficial.”

While Dr. Tan’s biggest powerlifting achievement came in 2006 with a fifth-place finish at the USAPL Men's Open National Powerlifting Championships, he finds continual fulfillment in the day-to-day progression that powerlifting provides for him personally and in his practice.


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