When people think of self-care they often think they need to do more. Just the idea of making time for self-care into an already over-scheduled day overflowing with tasks and to-do lists can seem daunting enough to make you want to crawl under the covers and eat dark chocolate. Today I’m going to preach to the unthinkable: the ecstatic joy of doing less.
I want you to imagine a large sangria dispenser with a spout at the bottom. The sangria and booze-soaked fruit in our dispenser is all of the mechanical stress that you put into your body during a day. Hitting the gym? Sangria in the vessel. Sat for 12 hours working on an all-nighter? More sangria. If we pour sangria in for long enough the dispenser will get bigger (for the purposes of this analogy only, do not try at home). Regularly train for a marathon? You’ll be able to run farther, further and faster without stress. But our bodies capacity to handle mechanical stress does not grow after one training session. Changing the dimensions of your dispenser, thus allowing for more sangria and more satisfied party guests (mostly you) takes time.
We can modify the spout too. Good sleep, diet, social support? Your body will recover from mechanical stress faster. Rehab, stretching, getting therapy? Reasonable ways to support your body while moving through a change. But the spout is only so modifiable. Which means if we want to make a big change and take care of ourselves well, we need to manage how much we put into the vessel in the first place. If you haven’t walked more than 30 minutes all year and you’re about to go on a trip when you walk for 10 hours a day, it’s reasonable to expect some lower limb discomfort. If you’ve done one yoga class per week for 11.5 months of last year and you’re embarking on a 90 minute per day yoga challenge it would be normal for your spine, shoulders and hip to take a beating. When you’re pouring a lot of sangria into the dispenser, sometimes the only way to lower the volume is to stop putting more in.
When I’m giving my patients advice, I take the sum of these forces into account. You can do so much that your body doesn’t have the capacity to recover. It’s almost always better to limit the amount of irritation and stress on the system and rest instead of letting an injury happen that forces you to rest. There’s nothing wrong with doing more, if you have the capacity. But if you don’t? Do less.
Dr. Peter Johnston
Peter is a graduate of the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College, University of Toronto and Kikkawa College. In practice since 2005, he has extensive experience with athletic populations from junior to masters, including working with the National Canadian Diving team, triathletes, runners, racquet sports athletes, dancers and all people that move to live a good life.
Having experienced injuries and chronic pain during his own athletic career, Peter has experienced how disabling common sports and occupational injuries can be. Realizing that the most disabling aspect of pain can be the lack of confidence and guidance on how to restore normal movement, Peter’s vision for the practice of orthopaedic healthcare is the use of therapy, education and advice to make sure that every patient can move without pain or fear.
Peter is certified to use medical acupuncture as an evidence-based Chiropractor and Registered Massage Therapist. His treatments include comprehensive education, spinal and extremity manipulation, soft tissue therapy, medical acupuncture, tailored exercise programs and healthy lifestyle modifications.
Peter is available for new bookings on Wednesday afternoons and evening as well as Sundays at Body Co.