Monday, September 29, 2014

What I Learnt From Listening To My Body

Sometimes I wonder, how well do we respond to the various signs and symptoms our body is giving off. The one thing most people or even myself would do, is just to ignore and live with it.

Since my teenage years, I already knew my spine wasn't straight because I had difficulty doing sit-ups on the hard ground. I mean, who don't right? It's hard ground! Do kids still do sit-ups on the ground these days anymore? I'm sure they'll start complaining if its hurts their back but last time, there were only 2 choices for us. Do it or not to do it.
During that time everyone else were doing it great except for me, I had to slightly curve my body to the right side when getting up from the ground. Through the yearly school medical checkup, nurse confirmed that I had scoliosis but it wasn't severe.
My parents and I didn't have the health & medical knowledge then so I chose to keep quiet about it. What scoliosis gave me was not just a curved spine, it gave pain too. As I grew older, the pain became worst. Because the spine is not straight, the muscles and ligaments are constantly pulled thus causing strains and aches, especially at area where the left shoulder blade sticks out like a bulge on one side of my back. If I hadn't went for chiropractic I may not had known that the shoulder ache I had been having was linked to the spine.

Similarly, common signs and symptoms such as headache, migraine and ear ringing sounds do have their reasons behind them. 
At first, I thought not having enough sleep or looking at bright light caused me to have migraines. Yes, that is actually true but there's more to it.
Apparently only after I experienced a locked jaw, I learnt that all these signs and symptoms that I had were caused by Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMJ). And TMJ is caused by several things like grinding or clenching of teeth, injury to the jaw, head or neck, tightening facial or jaw muscles and more... Stress is the main big reason why I got TMJ and why I kept having migraine & ear ringing sound everyday. Not because of late night hair washing which my mum had been warning me about, that's just a myth.
By visiting a specialist, I learnt even more about jaw, joints and possible problems that one could get if he/she often eat hard to chew foods, biting on ice and resting jaw on surfaces (be it soft or hard). To prevent further damages to my jaw joints, I wear a splint every night and prevent eating hard to chew food and also, exercise to reduce stress.

About few months ago, I experienced pain in my right arm everytime I used my mouse during work. The pain is in one of the vein that stretched from my back to my finger tip. I had already knew the reason why so when it happened. If it wasn't because I had strenuous exercises and over used my right arm during badminton sessions then it would definitely be ergonomic issue at my work station.
As the pain hit me hard, I stopped all exercises that involves arm movement and went for TCM Tui Na, a form of Chinese manipulative therapy. After the tui na sessions, my arm felt so much better and lighter, even though I still felt a little pain. They gave me chinese medicines (see picture below) which helps make my arm and joint flex better and reduce pain caused by internal and external trauma.
From this, I understand more about my body and learnt that it has a limit in everything it does. If our body can't manage the vigorous exercises then we will need to slow down. If we exceed that limit, our body will send out little signals to warn us and if ignored, it will become a large one.
After that, I had started to do stretching exercises everyday and til now, my arm no longer feel pain. I had also rectified the problem at my workstation by spending a little less time at my desk as well as increasing the number of times I do my stretching. Due to my height, the furnitures don't fit me thus I am exposed to many ergonomic risks everyday. This is where the stretching exercises come in. At almost every hour, I would stand up and walk around, go to the restroom to do simple stretching before I return to my desk. By doing so, my body would not be subjected to repetitive strain injury.
Same for the problem of looking at our smartphone for long hours, it would hurt our spine (neck area), the muscles around it as well as eyes strain. If my neck starts to feel tired, I would totally stop looking at my phone, keep it away, move my head left and right and look far. It would help to relieve both neck and eyes strain.

Besides personally experiencing the above issues, I also learnt alot from many others such as my friends, colleagues and family members. Everyone has their own set of health episodes or problems and by sharing them with me, I learnt even more as I googled for the answers.

Nowadays, everyone goes online to search for answers and so do I. When someone face health issues and tell me about it, I will search online and read articles after articles, research after research until I understand the reasons behind it. Gaining knowledge allows me to have time to take precautionary measures, such as going for annual health screening, taking vaccines to prevent diseases, eat healthy, drink lots of water and get prepared before symptoms appear.
Through my experiences and stories that I'd heard, I now learnt to take better care of my body by listening to it and be more aware of the messages that my body is sending out.
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