Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Is Your Engine Light On?

What do you do when the engine light in your car goes on unexpectedly? Do you immediately pull over to the side of the road and call a tow truck? Or, do you put a piece of tape over the light so it doesn't bother you while you're driving?

Both are "solutions" to the engine light problem and both are rather extreme. Presuming there aren't billows of smoke pouring from your car and you can still drive normally, the most rationale response to the engine light is to continue to drive safely to your destination and then call your mechanic to schedule an appointment for sometime in the next several days. 

What do you do when you start to feel some tightness or tension across your forehead? Do you ignore it? Or do you immediately run to the medicine cabinet and take some pills? Believe it or not, both of those reactions to head tension may be as extreme as a tow truck or tape for an engine light. 

There is often a reasonable response to most of the messages our bodies are sending us. Unfortunately, many of us have been told to hide the signals we get from our bodies. We can even go so far as hiding a signal for the best of reasons. For instance, if I run too many miles for too many days in a row my right hip begins to ache. I have many choices to "fix" the pain in my hip. I could rub some stuff on it, take a pill or simply ignore it because I "know" running is good for me even if my hip doesn't agree.

I could hear the message from my hip which is saying, "Hey, you! Too much running lately. Give me a rest." I could take a day or two off from running and rest or swim or stretch or do some resistance training. I could add other forms of cardiovascular exercise and develop a new weekly routine which doesn't cause me hip pain.  I could do more stretching before and after a run and pay attention to what my hip says when I add that strategy to my regime. 

The idea is that we recognize the engine light our body is turning on and we learn to respect the message it is sending. You don't respect the engine light in your car by putting tape over it so you don't have to see it anymore. If you ignore it long enough, sooner or later, your car will stop running. I promise. Likewise, taking a pain reliever every day so you don't feel your hip pain may not be the best thing for your overall health and wellness. Sooner or later, your hip pain will turn into knee pain and back pain and ankle pain and, one day, you won't be able to get out of bed because you're entire body is forced to stop "running" in order to get your attention. 

Do a quick scan of your body and see if you have an engine light on. If you do, consider how you could respect the message and learn how to give your body what it needs. You body doesn't send false alarms. 


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