When “Rest” Isn’t Enough


On the surface, “resting” an injury makes perfect sense. It’s the old “if it hurts to do ‘x’ then you should stop doing ‘x'” mentality. If running hurts, then take a break. If it hurts to stand, then go sit down. And it’s often suggested that you need to take several months off of whatever activity you love to do in order to let the body heal from its current pain and condition.

Almost on a daily basis, we see clients who have been told the sooner they are able to rest their injury or pain, the sooner all will return to normal.

But, is that really going to help?

In my opinion, not necessarily!

Sure, there are times when the body needs to heal, it needs to recover. But, as I often do, I’ll make a comparison between the body and a car. I’ve said before that we are much better at addressing the big-picture, overall system when it comes to mechanics of our car than we are with mechanics of our body. With our cars, we’re good at taking a more global, cause vs. effect, approach to the mechanical problem. However, with our bodies, we’re very much symptom-driven.

Think about it this way: When you see your “Check Engine” light illuminate on your dashboard, you know it’s time to head to the mechanic. You realize that the “Check Engine” light is an indicator, an alert, telling you that something isn’t right with your car. Maybe it’s the engine, perhaps it’s a tire issue, but regardless, you know there’s a problem. You also understand that the light itself isn’t the issue, but rather, there is something bigger at play.

However, if you took your car to your mechanic and he said, “Just park your car in the driveway for the next two to four weeks, and everything will be fine,” you’d look at him like he was crazy. Essentially, he would be saying that your car simply needs to rest. Obviously, you know that “resting” it isn’t going to fix the problem. You realize that there is an underlying issue that needs to be addressed.

So, if you wouldn’t “rest” your car and expect the problem to be resolved…why would you “rest” your body and expect the same?

After making the body/car comparison, my hope is that it is starting to make sense why “resting” your injury won’t eliminate the cause of your pain! While rest might allow the inflammation to calm down, you have done nothing to address the “Check Engine” light of the body that is still on! The body sent you a signal, and it is expecting you to give it the attention it’s asking for!

When addressing your pain, it’s crucial that you use the “Check Engine” light as an alert. You have to dig deeper. Your knee pain isn’t the issue…that’s simply the signal. There’s something bigger happening, and if you’re simply relying on rest to improve your injury, you’re doing nothing to achieve a long-term solution.

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