For most people, men especially, changing the oil on your car every 3,000 miles is a no-brainer. For most people, especially women, going to the doctor at the first sign of sniffle, sneeze or cough is a no-brainer as well. However, for most people, both sexes included, preventive care is not something that even enters into their brain.
We’ve all heard the old adage about an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure. I believe this wholeheartedly, even if it isn’t as popular with the business of mainstream medicine.
I’ve asked athletes for years now, “When was the last time that you got a massage? Went to a chiropractor? Got some acupuncture? Bought yourself a completely grass-fed organic meal or juice?”
Usually the reply is something along the lines of an open mouth and blank stare, so I follow it up with this question, “When was the last time that you got the oil changed on your car?”
Well what do you know, 90 percent of the people asked can answer that question without much second thought. This begs a second and even more interesting question.
Why do we take better care of our cars than we do ourselves? We would never pour water into the gas tank of our cars, but we’ll pour soda, alcohol and all manner of other pollutants into our body. We would never drive around for a month with our emergency break pulled up tight, but we’ll think nothing of waiting twice that long before getting professional help with a sprain or strain.
Today we’re going to talk about two preventive measures that everyone should be taking with their health — athletes especially.
No. 1: Get a Massage
Seriously, this should be a regular occurrence for all human beings, athletes especially. Having your significant other give you a massage is wonderful, but not what I’m talking about here. Since the most common response that I get when asking my acupuncture patients if their significant other will give them any bodywork is a loud laugh, I suggest you seek out a professional.
Bodywork will do wonders to remove the micro spasms that occur through strenuous physical activity. It will increase circulation throughout your muscles, bringing freshly oxygenated blood and lymph to the areas while cycling out leftover toxins such as lactic acid.
In addition to the numerous positive medical effects of massage, getting to know and form a professional relationship with a talented bodyworker is no different than doing the same with a mechanic. When things go wrong physically, you’re definitely going to want to have someone there for you who understands your body and its history.
Commit to getting a massage at least once every two weeks for two months and see how much your daily health and fitness improve.
No. 2: Take an Active Role in Your Sleep
I’m not a good sleeper, never have been. Thus I have to take an active role in my own sleep. What do I mean by an active role?
First off, there are whole books written about the benefits of a good night’s sleep — so we won’t get into them here. Ask anyone with a newborn and they’ll tell you from firsthand experience what the opposite of life with a good night sleep is like. It’s hell.
Taking an active role means that if you wake up at 2 a.m. every night because the headlights from your neighbor’s car are waking you up, look into getting some blackout curtains. Bed, Bath & Beyond sells some really great and cheap ones.
If you can’t wind your mind down for an hour after you lie down, then take the time to turn the TV off, turn down the lights and read for an hour. I’ve got more than 15 articles on Noozhawk if you’re short of material to put you to sleep!
If you’re waking up often throughout the night, talk to your local acupuncturist/herbalist for some assistance. Traditional Chinese medicine has numerous, extremely effective remedies for constant waking.
If your bed is uncomfortable — too hard, too soft, too hot, too cold — then get a new mattress. People won’t give a second thought to buying a $50,000 car, but will balk at paying $1,000 for a bed. Cars get your from A to B. Beds get you to your car happily or miserably.
More than specific advice, simply owning your sleep situation and putting effort into increasing its quality is a start in the right direction.
There you have it, folks. Commit to yourself that you will take better care of your body than you will your car. Do this and your body will pay you dividends for years to come.
Have at it.
— Traver Boehm is co-owner and coach at Crossfit Pacific Coast, has a master’s degree in Chinese medicine, is a licensed acupuncturist at Alki Wellness, and a nutrition specialist. He can be contacted at email@example.com.