Coach Jake Shannon – Your check engine light is on..

May 24, 2017

Last week I finally got around to dropping my laptop off at an IT place in Darwin to fix it. When they asked me what the problem with it was, I couldn’t even tell them because I didn’t know. All I knew was that I was getting random messages, things wouldn’t close after I tried to close them, music wouldn’t play, everything seemed slow and I was positive someone was watching me through the camera on my screen. I hope not too much.

I’d battled through this nonsense for around 18 months and every time it would play funny buggers with me I would curse at the screen as if it could hear me and swear to myself that I would book it in to be fixed soon. However like I said, it took 18 months for me to actually drive the 4 minutes from my apartment to the CBD and actually do it.

This situation of putting important things off reminds me of what a lot of people are like with their bodies. Your shoulder hurts after one bad round of golf and you say to yourself that you’ll get a physio to check it out assuming that it’ll be fixed promptly. Maybe you even do go in once to have a physio check it out, maybe you ignore it and continue to play golf on the weekends and watch as your once respectable handicap of single figures deteriorates and you’re now playing off a number closer to that of your age. Most likely you cross your fingers tightly praying that the pain will magically disappear if you have one weekend off golf and smash beers at the clubhouse instead. Oh and maybe do a few of those exercises you can’t really remember that the physio prescribed you. Here’s the brutal truth. It’s not going to get better with your complete apathy.

The point I’m trying to convey is that, the human body needs constant attention. A builder needs to constantly maintain his tools, just like I should have been maintaining my laptop. The thing is, you can always buy new tools or a new laptop yet you can’t purchase a new body. If you could, I wouldn’t still be standing at 5 foot 9. I’d be 6 foot 3 and look like Chris Hemsworth. I sometimes think that we as humans have our priorities somewhat backwards. If your ‘check engine’ light in your car comes on, you typically sort it out right away if you’re mechanically minded. Or if you’re like me and don’t know shit from clay when it comes to cars, you take yourself into the mechanic who’s had the least amount of people whinge about him ripping them off on Google reviews.

Just as I had very little idea as to what was wrong with my laptop, we often have no idea what is wrong with our body when it hurts. But rest assured there are people who do.

One visit to the physio/chiro/osteo/faith healer or snake oil salesman is 99% of the time not enough. Despite what the faith healer tells you, they don’t have magic in their veins. Think of them (the physio, chiro and osteo, not the other two of course) as a conduit between you being injured and you being better. They take you from one to the other by giving you the tools necessary to guide you to better health, but you have to put in the work. They typically don’t fix you like Mr Miyagi fixed Daniel San with some bullshit handclapping in one magical movie moment. You’re solely responsible for your own health and wellbeing and this is an ongoing process. Not a twice-yearly, short lived patch up job. The best part is, as with many things in life, prevention is better than cure. It’s far easier and cheaper to consistently maintain your body in a way that keeps it strong and healthy than to try and sort out the searing lower back pain you’ve just noticed if you lead a sedentary lifestyle.

Unfortunately the human body, while it is so strong and resistant to many things and capable of withstanding huge amounts of work and stress, can be undone by the smallest of issues. We can run ultra-marathons, survive catastrophic situations, scale Everest and women can push through the pain of child birth. My poor mother had twins and my sister and I were the two biggest babies in the Royal Women’s hospital in Melbourne on that day!! Yet an ingrown toenail can render us completely incapable of anything. A slight bit of inflammation in the elbow can mean we need to drastically alter our daily living; hence our body is something we need to look after forever.

Fit and healthy people get injured less than sedentary, unfit people. I’m not saying fit and healthy people don’t get injured. Everyone has the potential for injury, like I said, the human body can withstand a lot and fit and healthy people can withstand more than the typical sedentary human who sweats up a storm climbing up a few steps.

Make the change in your life if you need it and start maintaining your body for the good of you and your future. Begin by just walking every day. Everyone has the time; I don’t know anyone who works 24 hours a day who actually doesn’t have time. Progress to finding a gym with a decent trainer, or have someone show you what to do. Or watch YouTube as the cool kids do these days with its instructions on everything. If you’re already on top of this, then good for you and keep doing it. If you live in Darwin and you’re ‘check engine’ light is on, then you know who to come and see otherwise you may end up like Penny in these clips from the Big Bang Theory.