As health practitioner I often have patients ask me to “fix them”. It is common for people to think of their aches and pains as mechanical problems that simply require a single “adjustment” and presto the pain and problem is gone. Although this is often how cars and other machines are repaired our bodies are far more complicated and require a different approach.
The “human machine” thrives on maintenance, proper use, good fuel and efficient storage. Let me explain. Most people will agree that to keep their car running properly mechanical maintenance (regular oil changes, filter replacements and tune ups) is very important. The same holds true for our bodies. The maintenance program for the human mechanical machine is exercise. Regular daily exercise to address strength, balance, flexibility and endurance works wonders to maintain and improve health, increase function and maintain/regain independence.
Regarding proper use I expect we all have had our children borrow the car and bring it back damaged. Driving too fast, rough roads, ignoring warning lights or even leaving it sit unused for several months will often result in mechanical problems requiring costly repairs. With our bodies the same holds true. Injuries, degenerative changes and pain can result from using our bodies in ways we can no longer manage due to loss of strength, flexibility or endurance.
“Good fuel” for our vehicles is advertised to improve gas mileage, performance and reduce engine wear. NO this doesn’t mean I want you to go out and drink high test gasoline! but, good food choices and plenty of water will go a long way to improving your energy level, performance and plays an important role in reducing degenerative diseases such as arthritis. Did you know your body including your joints are comprised of approximately 85% water. It therefore makes sense that adequate daily water intake is vital for good health.
Last but not least is this idea of storage. For our vehicles a warm garage provides protection from sun, rain, snow and harsh temperatures. For our bodies’ storage means rest. Sleep is the most important form of rest. If you have trouble sleeping make sure you consider the following possible causes: mattress, pillow, caffeine intake, activity level and amount of napping. If you can’t solve or identify the problem consider speaking to a doctor or having a sleep study done. Rest also includes taking time to relax. Make time to sit outside, breath deep or read a book. Rest is necessary to allow for muscular and joint recovery. But remember that if rest is all you do, you may find yourself becoming like the car that never leaves the garage. Hard to start, rusty, seized up with under inflated tires. Remember “if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it”.
In the end we are not machines but, these comparisons do provide food for thought. Bottom line is our bodies are far more advanced, important and valuable than any vehicle ever will be. Take proper care of your body today and everyday and it will perform for years and years to come.