We have recently been on holidays. We really did have a great time catching up with my family and the kids just loved hanging out with their cousins. Sarah enjoyed having a bit of freedom and even was allowed to head off on a walk along the beach with just her older cousins in charge – no Mum and Dad in sight. You should have seen the look of delight on her face when we said she could go. She felt so grown up.
Unfortunately, Owen was a different story. His little face dropped and big tears came rolling down his face when we said that he wasn’t allowed to go without Mum and Dad. It’s hard explaining to a six-year old boy that he is too young to do something. Through his tears he shouted, “You’re not a very good Daddy!” He eventually settled down and as he sat on my lap having a cuddle I explained that Mummy and Daddy were actually being good parents when we said he wasn’t allowed to go. I told him that part of our job was to protect him and to keep him safe and that we take that job seriously. “That’s Ok Dad”, he said after a while, “I think that you are a good Daddy.” Then, with a cheeky grin, he said, “Can I have a lolly now seeing as I missed out on going for the walk?”
As weird as it sounds this little episode got me thinking about our bodies. Our body is constantly reacting to the environment around it and responding to the stresses we place on it. We may not like it, but part of its function is to protect us. We may get angry and chuck a tantrum when our back spasms in response to us lifting something too heavy, but it is our body’s way of forcing us to rest. It is protecting us from doing greater injury than has already happened.
I often have patients in tears of frustration during a treatment session because they feel like their body is letting them down. “Why now?” they ask. “I have so much to do; I don’t have time for this pain.” Besides settling down the patient’s pain and getting them moving again, I spend a long time discussing why this pain has begun, the underlying causes and why our body has responded the way it has. Almost always, our body acts in the way in which it was designed. Its in-built default mechanism is to protect us. To respond to the loads placed upon it and keep us from harm.
My advice: Listen to your body.
When you start feeling stiff and get a few twinges, that is the time to change your lifestyle. Work on your posture, get fitter, go to the gym, see the physio regularly and do your daily exercises.
If you do have an episode of pain, acknowledge that your body is doing its job. Accept that it is time to rest, get some help and work with the body’s design to get over your pain. Remember that most of the time it is not our body letting us down. Usually, it is us overloading ourselves and our body taking its job of protecting us seriously.