Thursday, March 5, 2009

You Make Plans...

There is a lot of talk these days about 'health plans'. These two words don't always go together well though, 'cause when it comes to your health, anything can and will happen.

I hope this isn't scary, but rather freeing. You might exercise a little or a lot, eat at Burger.King daily or never, follow the rules or break them, and typically, your health will follow suit. But sometimes the exercise freak has a heart attack, and his chubby friend rushes him to the hospital. Sometimes the yogi has low back pain and the weekend warrior cruises unharmed. Sometimes genetics/fate/happenstance intervene, despite (or in spite of) our best intentions.

So what is a fatalist to do? How does one accept that we can't always control or even predict how our bodies will behave? As corny as it sounds, I think the answer is to accept and let go. Search for the message in the event. Listen to your body, really hear what it is saying.

It is not unusual for people to come to me in crisis right before Christmas. Or a vacation. Or a wedding. Back pain often strikes at the worst time possible, in part because there really is no good time to be laid out flat on your back (well, not many good times). Fortunately, there are things you can do to expedite the healing process - chiropractic comes to mind (!), but always, time and patience are required. If you are injured, as frustrating as it may be, listen to your body, hear its message. It might be that you need to slow down, rest more. When we ignore the whispers (ooh, my back is a little tight!) the body shouts (AARGH my back REALLY HURTS!!!). Pay attention, spine owners!

I have a long history of painful back episodes, most coinciding with major life changes, as though my body was trying to sabotage my plans; the first time my back 'went out' was right before I started university. Other major flare-ups conveniently occurred at the start of my chiropractic internship, the week before my wedding, and during the first trimester of my pregnancy. My back is my weak spot and is at risk when I am under stress, and I now understand that I need to take extra precautions ahead of potentially stressful times. I get an adjustment before the vacation, start yoga before I'm stressed, get a massage before I really need one. I try to avoid being shouted at by my body by giving it what it needs, before it NEEDS it.

But it doesn't always work, and inevitably, we all will get aches and pains. So when those old familiar (painful) feelings come back, relax. Cancel your plans, call in sick, visit your chiropractor, have a massage or some acupuncture. Invest in a good reusable ice pack (really people, spend the $5, and make the peas for dinner!) and rent some DVDs (I recommend Arrested Development - even funnier the second time around). Get some rest, chances are you need it.

Remember, this too shall pass.

1 comment:

  1. Accepting and letting go is NOT corny advice, if it is I'd like to meet the people who have experienced it as thus.

    Rather than fighting against pain, if we can accept that we are in pain, it tends to lessen the struggle. Awareness.

    My chiropractor once explained to me with the various torquing etc... going on because of my scoliosis, WHY I get pain in various places if I don't do yoga, but I forget. Either way doctors orders, keep practicing and I do and I feel healthy, its so much fun!

    Yes our injuries are often our best teachers, and like you said, careful how we talk about our bodies, they can hear us.