What if a light on our foreheads flashed MAINT REQD when our bodies needed to get our attention?
We have a new car that has a helpful little light that goes on when Maintenance is Required. I believe it’s time for an oil change and a new air filter. The older car this one replaced could have always had a MAINT REQD light on. I was reflecting the other day how we never go to the mechanic any more. I don’t exactly miss him, although he was a very nice man. I’m sure he’s doing fine without us.
Seeing the MAINT REQD light made me think about the human body, my body, and the bodies I regularly work on doing massage. For a long time I’ve said that many of us walk around in our bodies the way we drive around in our cars: without a clue how they work and only paying attention when something “breaks.” Of course others of us are very body-aware and really cultivate health by carefully choosing what we eat, how we move and exercise, prioritizing sleep and rest, and including joyful activities along with all the responsibilities that characterize our lives. However, there are times when we take our bodies for granted and get a bit miffed when “something breaks” or we finally admit we carry a lot of pain around each day in our necks, shoulders, hips or feet.
MAINT: What is your Maintenance Required? For me, maintenance includes good food, laughter, chiropractic, massage, and sleep to name a few. I am really struggling these days with regular exercise, although I’ve been loving Walkahikes! What good care do you take of your precious resource of a body? Do tell in the comments below. Thanks!
If my job were a sport, how should I train for it? What exercises, diet, and daily regimen would help me perform at my peak? My jobs currently include massage, parenting, and blogging. I’ll lead by example to show you how you could apply this concept to your job(s).
Massage is physically demanding. What do I need?
- Physical strength: Early in massage school I developed adequate hand strength. Over the years I’ve realized the critical importance of core abdominal strength to support my back as I lean over clients day in and day out.
- Flexibility: Strength without flexibility leads to injury. Personally I find yoga and Pilates a great match to keep me aware of how much I need more flexibility.
- Stamina: Sleep is key; so is nutrition. Sometimes I work a split day with both morning & evening appointments. To keep my stamina up, I need good fuel in the form of healthy meals and snacks.
- Massage: You’ll often hear me say I feel I should be somehow magically exempt from muscle tension, but it’s just not true. So, I take my turn laying on the table too. When my shoulders and neck get all knotted up I am more likely to strain those muscles and lose the tension battle.
- Strength (again): Although I decline most requests to carry my son these days, parenting young children often involves lots of bending and lifting (as well as crawling and generally acting like a fool!?!). Developing strong abdominal strength is key in healthy bending, twisting & lifting. Imagine an obstacle course where you navigate challenges swinging an infant car seat and you’ll see why a strong core is key.
- Stamina: Again, healthy fuel administered throughout the day goes a long way toward doing my job well. As someone with a high metabolism, everyone suffers when I get hungry.
- Quick & Quality Decision-making: Many sports depend on this & parenting is no different. I think there’s a great link to sleep here. Sleep! Sleep! Sleep! Every parent I know could benefit from more sleep. Keeping a sleep routine is a great gift you can give your brain – and your family.
- Half-time/the off-season: Just as in sports, we need breaks from the action. That might be 10 minutes of reading time for mommy or having a beer after the kids are in bed. Taking breaks allows you to recover from the never-ending job of parenting.
- Cardio: I’d like those spontaneous races with my 7-year-old to be fun, not humiliating. Plus heart disease runs in my family. I’d like to be a parent a long time, so I need to keep my ticker working well.
- Good Equipment: In athletics this might be the right shoes, ball or wheels. For computer work, this usually translates to ergonomics. When I fudge on ergonomics, I feel it right where you feel it – neck & shoulders. So I try to keep myself honest and check in with my body.
- Time clock: Most sports are ruled by some sort of time-keeping. If I sit and type for hours, my wrists ache and burn a bit. That’s familiar from days as a typist. When I’ve exceeded my limits, I care for my carpal tunnels by doing some quick soaks in ice water in the sink. I also massage & stretch my forearms where most of the typing muscles reside.
Have I painted a good picture of what I mean? When you view your job as a sport you can think creatively about what you need to perform well. You can acknowledge that your body will do better with certain kinds of support. I’ve only scratched the surface here. For one thing, I’ve only covered physical aspects of my jobs. Does this spark any ideas about your work? I’d love to read your thoughts in the comments below. Or shoot me an email about your job and I’ll brainstorm what you may need to perform at your peak. Send me a not here: susan (at) susanyoungmassagetherapy (dot) com.