When I first started working in Physical Therapy facilities one of the common questions that I heard patients ask was about how they could speed up their healing. The Therapist’s response was that you can maximize your body’s healing, but you cannot speed it up. Being so new to the industry I didn’t know if this was true, but I did know that I didn’t think it mattered.
I don’t typically like using machines as examples for the body, but for this purpose I think it is easy to imagine that if you have a car which was designed to drive at a max speed of 140mph and you only drive at max 70mph, then asking how to make your car go faster isn’t a question about how to increase your car’s potential maximum speed from 140 to 150mph because that increase in potential is not something you will experience. However, if you make that vehicle a smooth ride at 100mph then you have significantly increased your experience of the car’s speed.
Now, back to health. If you knew that you rarely got illnesses and that when you did your symptoms didn’t seem very intense and/or didn’t last very long, would you have as much concern over getting sick? If you recovered fast from injuries and activities that may cause damage in another body and are at most an irritation in your own, would your level of fear of injury change? The most true answer is probably “maybe” but that is not as fun, so let’s go with “yes!”.
Many of us don’t consider a desire to speed up healing until we are in a position where our lifestyle has been impacted. To optimize your body’s ability to fight off illness and speed up healing is before you need it. When your body is already challenged with fighting off an illness, recovering from an injury or dealing with some other significant stressor... well that would not seem the right time to add more to it. Increasing our resiliency is a process and takes continual attention. Exercise, diet, rest, recreation are the components at our disposal to assist us with preparing ourselves to be resilient.
I know that this month we are focusing on the Resistance Key of Fitness, but that is a bit too simple to use the body’s adaptation to strength training. Instead, I would like to use the example of yogurt. Sure, everyone knows that eating live and active yogurt cultures is good for the microbiota in your gut, and that a healthy thriving microbiome is closely tied to our immune response, but the active cultures in yogurt are beneficial because they threaten the healthy microbiota. When the yogurt bacteria start to propagate the existing microbiota respond by propagating and growing more closely together, thus providing no safe space for the yogurt bacteria and they along with other undesirables get moved along out of the body.
This is just one of the many, many genius ways that the body is continually adapting to become more resilient. I like this example because it demonstrates that the body can build resilience even when it is exposed to something that may not be very harmful and it demonstrates that when we focus our intention of working with the body and its natural reactions, we can have a profound impact on our health.
As always, let me know I can help,