“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Is that how you approach your health? I had a patient tell me that once and I have discussions weekly with patients that are doing exactly that. Or they’ve spent months making major structural changes to their spine to just stop chiropractic adjustments and home care exercises as soon as they feel good again. This usually is followed by a return to their old routine and eventually their old problem once again.
Why would somebody do that?
I read once that “if your spine was on your face, you’d take better care of it.” This is true, but we also tend to ignore the symptoms that are right in front of us. “It’s not that bad” or “I usually just take ibuprofen and sit in a hot bath and I’m good.” We tend to ignore our health until it shows up as a problem we can no longer ignore.
People are busy and health is regularly put on the back burner. No one appreciates their health more than the patient that has lost it. You don’t realize how much you loved doing different activities until you can’t do them any more. The most proactive patients I work with have previously suffered major neck or back pain, or dealt with a family member that went through it.
They may have watched their parents undergo spine surgery only to still deal with regular pain. Or they watched their parents get less healthy year after year until there was almost no point in trying to make a change. Or the saw that their parents didn’t get out or do much anymore and decided they wouldn’t let that happen to them.
The worst conditions don’t show us any symptoms until it’s too late. And that’s the first reason to ignore the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” motto when it comes to your health.
Your health can get worse and won’t seem “broke” until it’s too late
The leading causes of death in the U.S. are heart disease and cancer. I don’t know anyone that hasn’t been affected in some way by these conditions. Someone they know or love has likely died from one of these conditions.
What do they have in common? They both build up over time. You don’t suddenly have a heart attack, the degenerative changes have been building up until your body finally reaches a threshold where you have a heart attack. I think we know this logically, but are often still surprised when we finally have a heart problem.
While there are some genetic factors in heart disease, a recent study confirmed that lifestyle has the biggest impact on determining if you’ll suffer with heart issues or not. However, waiting until your heart is “broke” is a terrible strategy.
It’s easier to “fix” things early
If you’ve ever had a small rock hit your windshield, you know about fixing things early. The small chip repair is a quick and simple process. Once the chip turns into a crack and starts running along your entire windshield, often the only solution is to replace the whole thing.
Sometimes we mistake a small problem as no problem at all. A recurring headache or back pain that “only happens when I drive for a long time” may seem like small inconveniences. They are really your warning signs that something is broken (or about to be). Taking a drug to cover up a symptom is not fixing anything, but is the common response to feeling a symptom.
I’m not suggesting you have to stress out or run to a doctor each time you have the smallest symptom, but you shouldn’t ignore it either. A headache may be the result of needing food, but a headache that keeps showing up may indicate you need to make some changes to your lifestyle.
The best health problem is no problem at all
We cannot and should not wait until things are bad with our health before taking action. If you’re knowingly doing things that are not good for you on a consistent basis, you have to know that you will eventually have a problem. Sometimes just living life will give you health issues, but there’s no need to make things worse.
Being preventative means looking to make small changes and then making more and more consistently to work towards better health. Believing you can stretch for 5 minutes every now and then to make a change in your flexibility doesn’t make sense. Believing you can occasionally eat a salad and you’ll be as healthy as you can be isn’t realistic.
I’m finding we have to figure out how we can do as many healthy things for ourselves that we can stand and find time for to see as much change as possible. Trying to get by or waiting for something to be broken is not the best strategy for long lasting health.