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  • David Wadsworth

Staying Healthy

Updated: Jun 26

How do you stay or become healthy?  Are there any shortcuts?  It’s an important concept because it’s much easier (not to mention smarter) to proactively work on being healthy and deal with the little things as soon as they arise, rather than to wait for things to go bad.

 

For a formal definition, the Global Wellness Institute defines wellness or good health as "the active pursuit of activities, choices and lifestyles that lead to a state of holistic health".

 

I think there’s a clear clue in the definition about health: it’s the ACTIVE pursuit of health that leads to good things.  There isn’t a shortcut, especially if you consider the oft mentioned “4 pillars of good health” being exercise, nutrition, relaxation and sleep.  Get these things right and you are all but guaranteed to be healthy.  Unfortunately, work / life balance can make good sleep and relaxation harder, but to make a simple start planning is all that’s required to start eating healthy and develop good exercise habits.

 

The “Wellness Industry”, as it’s known, is not a trivial thing – in 2022 it was worth 5.6 trillion dollars (https://globalwellnessinstitute.org/): that’s 3 times as much as the pharmaceutical industry!  There are different types of wellness, both physical and mental, that contribute to your feeling of well-being or overall health. 

 

There is a strong interaction between physical & mental health, with exercise showing benefits in mental well-being at least equal to or greater than prescribed antidepressants

 

One key aspect of health is being able to move freely and painlessly so that you can pursue regular exercise habits.  If you start to get a bit tight here, locked up there, the muscles begin to atrophy and before you know it the little niggle you didn’t properly sort out becomes bigger trouble by turning into chronic recurrent pains. 




 

Check-up & Tune-up Treatment

This is where a good physical “check-up & tune-up” come in.  Having an experienced Physiotherapist identify and eliminate the various accumulated “lock-ups” and “tight spots” that we all collect through life helps to prevent these smaller problems from becoming bigger ones, which is often what prevents or demotivates people from getting healthy in the first place.

 

A simple but useful analogy is like maintaining your car.  We all know that a regular service or “grease and oil change” keeps things running smoothly & prevents major engine damage.  So why not do this for your own body. 

After all, isn’t your body more important than your car?  And the cost is significantly less than servicing your car! 

 

High performance athletes do this sort of treatment at least weekly, which is more than required for those of us pushing the body a little less hard!  A tune-up twice a year, more often if you already have some damage (say an arthritic knee), might be all that’s required to keep major problems at bay.  Even for those with incurable conditions, we can usually manage the symptoms and prevent things becoming worse, and usually do so painlessly.

 


Painless fascial counterstrain treatment of the knee

What Types of Things Respond Well to a "Tune-Up"

Many types of musculoskeletal problems improve with a tune-up, even incurable ones which tend to stay less painful and more functional for doing the things you want to do. A few quick examples would be:

  • Arthritic knees (or hips, shoulder, fingers, feet - anywhere!)

  • Spine ("my old whiplash injury", recurrent back pain, arthritic spines... you get the idea, most spinal conditions)

  • Muscle pain and trigger points - incredibly common in athletes


Are There any Shortcuts? 

Of course not! Nothing worth having ever comes by sitting around doing nothing, including your health. 


An example of a commonly used "short cut" is taking vitamins (in people who are not vitamin deficient!).  A series of comprehensive reviews of multi-vitamin use demonstrated absolutely no benefit.  Despite this more than 50% of Americans take a multi every day, yet the facts are clear - if you have no medically diagnosed nutritional deficiencies (and who gets tested before buying vitamins?), guess what – they make no difference and there is actually a risk of harm via overdose (Guallar et al 2013).  If you don’t have a nutritional deficiency, then this type of “wellness” is really a method of enriching the nutritional content of the sewerage system.

 

There is far more convincing evidence for a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, exercise & strength training to promote physical & mental well-being

 

So consider booking in for a check up and tune up if you are starting to feel a bit tight or locked up, before it becomes a genuine painful problem and stops you from working out regularly. 

 


References:

Guallar E et al (2014): Enough Is Enough: Stop Wasting Money on Vitamin and Mineral Supplements. Annals of Internal Medicine 160:809-810.

 

Hu MX et al (2020): Exercise interventions for the prevention of depression: a systematic review of meta-analyses. BMC Public Health 20, 1255.

 

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