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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.

On almost 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?

Not necessarily!

Sure, there are times when the body needs to heal and recover. But, as I've said before, 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 bodies, we're very symptom-driven.

Think about it this way: When you see your car's "Check Engine" light illuminate, you know it's time to head to the mechanic. You realize that the light is an indicator—an alert—telling you that something isn't right. Maybe it's the engine or 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. Something bigger is 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. But you know that resting it isn't going to fix the problem. You realize 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 this body-car comparison, I hope it's starting to make sense why resting your injury won't eliminate the cause of your pain. Although 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 relying on rest to improve your injury, you're doing nothing to achieve a long-term solution.