Aug 5

Your body is a healing machine

Our bodies are amazing. One of our most potent superhuman abilities is how we can heal and become stronger, when we place the correct stresses on our bodies. A lot of us view injuries as a death sentence. But I’m here to say, that an injury is simply one of many signals that our bodies are trying to communicate with us to say ‘hey, you need to make this area of us stronger.’ Now before I continue, I’m not talking about acute severe injuries like a broken bone for example. If that happens, get to the hospital immediately. What I am talking about however, is chronic and nagging injuries that we often view as being impossible to overcome. I myself have gone through many injuries and illnesses over the years such as shin splints, plantar fasciitis, lumbar sprains, torn knee ligaments, calf sprains, neck injuries, hematomas of the thigh, fractured ribs, hip injuries, & even chronic fatigue for 6 years. But I’m still here, learning, healing, and building. The point is, when we choose to play the victim and allow our injuries to get the better of us; that is where we stop evolving, we stop growing, and we stop healing. Instead of feeling sorry for ourselves, we need to stay strong in mind, body, and spirit. We must continue our pursuit of health and have faith that we can regain our body’s strength and abilities through consistent, specific, training. If you are injured, get onto it as soon as possible. Go to a physiotherapist or another professional, start a rehabilitation program. Better yet, do some of your own research, get in touch with your body. If you have a certain area of the body that continues to get injured, it’s important to find an easy low impact exercise that you can start performing on a regular basis to promote circulation, and strength adaptations in the weakened, injured area. Over time, you can make the exercise more difficult by improving upon certain variables such as increasing the range of motion of the exercise, slowing the exercise down to increase muscular feedback, adding some extra weight to the exercise, or you may even want to swap to a single leg or single arm variation depending on the movement you are trying to improve.   Now beyond exercise, lifestyle factors also play a massive role in our overall health, and this often gets overlooked in terms of how fast we can heal and how this affects the overall quality of our training. We cannot exercise away a poor lifestyle. Things such as hydration, nutrition, quality of sleep, variety of exercises and movements, the ratios of intensity in your training program, overall stress management, fasting; whether it be intermittent or prolonged fasting, the amount of sunlight we are exposed to and more specifically the time of day we expose ourselves to it, the air quality in our homes, hot or cold therapy, our thought patterns, our intentions, all of these things play a role in our overall health and immune system, and need to also be respected if we wish to be in a state of healing and performance.   So, it’s quite clear nowadays that one of the most if not THE MOST important factor when it comes to healing is when we rest. This is where the healing occurs as our bodies rebuild themselves during sleep. But the kicker here is that the healing can only happen if we have placed the correct stress on our bodies to adapt first. This means that if we want to heal, get stronger, and maintain the strength so we can enjoy the bodies we are in, we must find a balance of stressing the body through strength training, cardiovascular training, or mobility training for example, and then recover through deep sleep, myofascial release, and other forms of recovery. The old saying ‘if you don’t use it, you lose it’ is the perfect quote for this scenario because we cannot just focus purely on recovery if we have nothing to recover from. Specific stress through our training is what promotes rapid healing and adaptations in our bodies as a response to rebuild and come back stronger each time.   So, remember, your body is a healing machine - if you place the correct stimulus upon it. You cannot sit around and wait for it to happen. You must signal to your body that you want to heal and you want to be strong. Keep the communication going with your body. Be patient, be consistent, and don’t give up on yourself. You can, and you will heal, if you believe in yourself first, and then put in the work.   And this can be applied to not only physical healing, but healing of one’s emotions, healing of relationships etc. When we place priority into a given task, we can achieve anything. Now, far too often people approach exercise with an all or nothing attitude. It’s either lift as heavy weights as possible or nothing. They think that if their muscles aren’t screaming at them then it’s not worth doing. Now, this approach may work for some people, but for the general public, a more balanced approach will yield much better results and keep you healthy and injury free long term. And it all starts with establishing what your baseline level of fitness is, and what is manageable to you on a weekly scale. Because it’s far better to be average and consistent long term, than amazing for a short term and injured for the rest of the time. It’s this go hard or go home mentality, get lean quick schemes, all of these approaches to health and fitness are gimmicky and they leave people with up and down results and not feeling empowered to change their lives for the better long term. So, what I propose to you is this: start simple, start small, find a routine that you can stick with every week that is not over stressing your body and leaves you feeling like you have more energy. This could be a simple full bodyweight or weightlifting routine, it could be yoga, it could be running, it does not matter. The point is just simply getting your body moving to create a habit and routine that you can build upon. So, establish this routine, no matter how small it may be in the beginning because this is your official starting point, and from here we can safely add more exercises. But if we do not establish this starting point from the beginning, that’s how we overdo it and run into injuries. So, find your baseline and what you are comfortable with and make that a habit you can consistently repeat every week without aggravating any injuries. Now, the second step, let’s say you have a few nagging injuries in your body that you’ve had for quite some time. Get onto these as soon as possible. And this is where it’s very important to place a lot of your focus in these early stages. For example, if you have a bad shoulder, or knees, or spine, or anything else, get some rehab advice from a professional and start promoting healing to that area as much as possible. We have to remember that our whole body is connected from head to toe. So, when we can fix each individual area, regain mobility and movement, then this will carry over long term to greater physical results because the overall potential of our body is improved. If we do not address our weakened, injured areas then we start to compensate and move in unnatural ways to try to avoid using these areas of our bodies. The worst thing we can do is give up and not try to heal an injured area of our body. Remember, if you don’t use it, you lose it. This applies to our entire body, whether it’s injured or not. If we do not continue to move and exercise our body, it will deteriorate physically. So, to heal injuries effectively, we must train these areas to restore the range of motion and the function of that area. Now, the 3rd step is where training gets fun and you can start to customize your routine and set some bigger goals. So, let’s say you’ve got your old injuries to a healthy functioning level, you have established a baseline routine of let’s say for example 2 days a week at the gym doing lower body on one day, upper body on the other day, and you’re also going for 2 30-minute walks a week. Perfect. Now, what do you want to achieve from here? Have you ever wondered what it might be like to enter and complete a running race? Or a triathlon? Or do you have an ideal physique in mind and wish to build more muscle? Or do you simply wish to move your body in a variety of ways and maintain mobility into your older years? Or do you wish to learn a new skill like a handstand or a back-flip, or maybe learn martial arts? It could be anything. The reason it’s important to ask ourselves these questions is because it provides us with some clear-cut objectives giving us more purpose and motivation to stay consistent with our training and appreciate our physical health. When we have clear-cut goals, we are more likely to stay on track and also more likely to be more aware of other lifestyle factors that affect our life.  

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So, I hope if anything, that this has given you some motivation to stay on track and not be disheartened if you have run into injury. The beauty of health and fitness is that it’s a lifelong pursuit with many lessons along the way. There is no such thing as get fit quick. It’s about nourishing our bodies with positive habits and appreciating what we have if we wish to live long and healthy lives. So be consistent, take care of yourself and thanks so much for reading.   Cheers, Jaspar

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