This post is a continuation in a series on establishing a Maintenance and Prevention Strategy, and may be best understood by reading prior related posts.
So far in this series we’ve covered exercise, posture, and movement. How are you stacking up? Are there a few items on your “check engine” list? That’s to be expected. But the fewer the better and the sooner you deal with them the better.
In summary, here are a few overarching suggestions:
- Get Moving. Join a live or online class, purchase a membership to a fitness center, buy a DVD, get some home equipment, start a walking program, get a bike – just do something to get moving! Especially if your work or lifestyle is sedentary – you need activity more than someone who is active all day. Begin by breaking up periods of sitting. A little bit of movement goes a long way.
- Exercise. The internet is loaded with options, and here’s my effort to give you some of my pearls with exercise. Just don’t force something to happen with stretching. If there’s an obstacle to movement then it’s far more intelligent to identify and resolve it than to bulldoze your way through it. If you have to keep stretching just to maintain mobility then logic dictates that something else may be driving the problem. Please also appreciate that stretching is not the answer to every problem, especially for hypermobile people like me.
- Footwear. Shoes are the most important piece of clothing on your body. Name brands don’t always tell the whole story, as some companies make both good and lousy shoes. Cost is also not the sole (ha ha) determinant, as you can pay a lot for junk and sometimes get a great shoe on sale. This applies to athletic shoes, dress shoes, sandals – anything you put on your feet. Knowing how to judge a shoe is your best bet, and we have three videos on this topic that will walk you through how to know what’s best: PT Tips and Tricks Choosing Shoes Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. We also have a nice brochure on footwear available on our Appalachian PT website.
- Use percussion, vibration, and/or cupping which I cover thoroughly in these sections. They are wonderful aids at addressing pain, stiffness, movement deficits, and other symptoms arising from the connective tissues. Just keep in mind that they are only as good as the operator, and where you apply them can be the determinant of how helpful they are. When in doubt or if results aren’t lasting then seek help!
- Wait and see what happens. Seriously, if you check your mobility later and it’s better then no worries. But if you keep checking and the problem isn’t improving or is worsening then you can expect to continue on that path unless you do something to make a change.
- Get help when necessary. This is too important to do nothing and hope for the best. Whether that means consulting us in physical therapy, a trainer, massage therapist, body worker, physician, acupuncturist, chiropractor, yoga teacher, coach – whatever and whoever – go for it! Letters after someone’s name are not the whole story of what they know. From my perspective, the best clinicians are the ones who never stop learning and have a heart for people. There are lots of ways to approach problems – one intervention isn’t the whole story and isn’t the complete answer for everyone. You need to feel confident in and comfortable with whomever you consult. And please don’t wait years to act. This isn’t a contradiction to what I’ve said above. Ecclesiastes says there’s a proper time for everything, and there’s an art (actually it’s called wisdom) to discerning what the next step should be and when.
We’ve covered a lot of material in this series on Maintenance and Prevention. Even so this series is not comprehensive and does not cover all aspects of what we need to monitor to take care of ourselves. I would be neglecting important aspects of self care if I did not at least mention other vital and perhaps less tangible aspects of a maintenance and prevention program. I know my areas of expertise as well as my limits, so all I’ll do is mention these here and encourage you to seek wiser sources for further information:
- Nutrition: while I’m not vegetarian or vegan, I do believe in the value of having plant-based foods as a staple in the diet. Things that don’t need labels or ingredients listed are ideal, and when we do eat foods with a list of ingredients the shorter the better. Kind of like fascia, it’s rather remarkable how many health issues could be averted with more attention to food and drink choices. Moderation is key, and even a little bit of chocolate occasionally is ok!
- Prayer/Meditation: whatever that looks like for you, we all need to feed our souls.
- Sleep: A lot happens to regenerate our mind, body, and soul when resting. Certainly some folks just seem to need less than others, but for the most part our highly productive, rushing everywhere society seems to promote sleep deprivation. Not good. Do all you can to optimize your sleep time including attention to lighting, noise, temperature, pillow, mattress, etc.
- Rest and recreation: I’m one of those highly productive people who drives the more laid-back folks nuts. It’s just how I’m wired. Regardless, I have to make time to relax, rest, and do things that are simply for my enjoyment. We are not machines that can produce 24/7. Give yourself freedom to stop producing every now and then.
I hope this series has given you some insight, direction, and awareness of how crucial it is to tune into what your body is telling you. Pick up on these signs, act on them, and I truly believe that many of the aches and pains considered to be an inevitable part of aging can be minimized or even eliminated. A little bit of maintenance really does go a long way!
Wishing you health and joy!