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Body Awareness

If you listen to your body when it whispers, you won’t have to hear it scream.

– Adapted from a Cherokee Proverb

Imagine that you have been preparing for an event for the last several months.  Maybe it is a marathon, a big work event, the CrossFit Games, or something relaxing like a vacation.  The day is upon you and you are excited and a little anxious.  It’s finally here and you are ready to rock.  The next thing you know your hamstring is cramping up at the start line of your race and you must pull out of your marathon.  Your big work event turns into the big health event as you end up in the ER because you have a migraine that won’t allow you to function.  The CrossFit Games turns into the GoHome Games because you tore your pectoralis muscle on the Ring Dips.  The vacation in Mexico you were so excited about is now a suffer-cation at home because the mild upset stomach you’ve been ignoring all week and thought would go away has now turned into a bleeding ulcer.

What happened?  What did you miss?  Why you?

All legitimate questions but ones that still miss the big picture.  You IGNORED your body and now you are paying that price.  Body Awareness is a GIANT missing part of today and that must change if you want to be a healthier, happier version of yourself.  Body awareness is defined by a medical dictionary as a person’s “internal sense of body structures and their relationships to each other.” (2) Body awareness is one of the single BIGGEST ways you can prevent disaster and maintain your health and optimize your performance.

Let’s take a look back at the last few months and see what you missed and what better body awareness could have done for you.

The marathoner ignored significant hamstring fatigue and mild to moderate cramping every day over the last several weeks of training, attributing it entirely to a hard training program.  The migraine sufferer ignored mild headaches for the last 10 days, thinking it was just a little stress and it would go away.  The CrossFit athlete ignored the fact that the right pectoralis muscle was significantly bigger than the left one for the last year, thinking it was no big deal.  The suffer-cation thought taking some OTC medicine would do the trick for the upset stomach, not listening to that little inner-self saying an upset stomach for 7 days is not normal and they should probably have it checked out.

If all those people would have listened to what their body was trying to tell them, all would have been well, and each would have gotten what they wanted and performed at the top of their game.  Ignoring your body comes at a price, often a hefty one that many people don’t even see coming until it’s too late.   You may end up being like Robocop with artificial parts in several places and moving like a Tin Man, paying hundreds to thousands of dollars a month in medical bills or worse yet, not remember who your loved ones are because your Dementia and Alzheimer’s has taken over.  I don’t know about you but none of those things sounds enticing to me.  I want to live the highest quality of life possible and always be able to perform at the top of my game.

People ask me all the time how I stay so healthy and fit.

My answer:  I listen to when my body whispers.

Robert Newhalfen, DC, DNSP, DNSET, GRIP

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