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Your Body is like Your Car

If you are reading this, there's a good chance you own a car. One of the most important things to learn when you first get a car is how to maintain it so that it continues to perform. Additionally, maintaining your car over time usually helps prevent a catastrophic breakdown that costs you thousands of dollars in repairs all at once.

Your body is not terribly different. It too requires regular maintenance. Some regular maintenance for your body can also help prevent a catastrophic problem like debilitating back pain. In fact, there are many parallels between how you should take care of your car, and how you should take care of yourself.


Your car and your body both have ways to tell us how they are doing. Your car has a speedometer, a fuel gauge, an engine temperature gauge, and it might have tire pressure sensors. Your body tells you how it's doing too! We have things that we can measure like respiratory rate, heart rate, blood pressure. We also have things we can sense such as whether we are sweating or not, or if we are feeling pain.

Your car and your body also both have several individual systems that each serve their own functions, but also work together to keep your car or your body working as a whole. In your car, there are systems such as the electrical system, drivetrain, climate control system and fuel system. Your body has systems such as the musculoskeletal system, the circulatory system, digestive system and the reproductive system. Maintaining these systems individually is important to maintaining the vehicle as a whole.


Just as with your car, much of these maintenance tasks you can do yourself. For example your car's fuel system is akin to your digestive system. If you put in good quality gas, the car will run well. Low quality gasoline may leave residue and cause emission problems. Feeding yourself good quality foods gives you plenty of energy for the things you'd like to do, but if you eat junk food, it may leave you feeling sluggish or tired.

Maintaining your musculoskeletal system is something most folks take care of themselves by exercising. Regular exercise helps to keep everything moving, and allows your joints to lubricate themselves. Regular movement can help prevent muscular pain and inflammation. Your car isn't any different, you need to drive it! If you leave it sitting around for a long time, it may get rusty, its fluids can break down, or the battery might drain. You'd likely not expect a car that's been sitting on someone's front lawn for many months to just start up and work perfectly right away.

On the other hand, many repairs for your car are best left to the experts. You are generally better off letting your mechanic handle things like repairing your air conditioner. Your body has a few things that are also best left to the experts, like having your doctor prescribe you antibiotics for your strep throat.


Of course, not all mechanics are experts at all systems. There are auto shops out there that specialize in foreign cars, or some that specialize in transmission service. Much in the same way, your family doctor is usually referred to as a General Practitioner (GP) as they are not often specialized in one area of medicine. For example, you are unlikely to find a family doctor that is an expert in musculoskeletal (MSK) injuries. MSK injuries are usually best handled by a chiropractor or physiotherapist.

If your transmission blows up, you are more likely better off to take it to your local transmission shop, than your oil change shop. If you 'throw your back out', you are also likely better off going to see your chiropractor than to a walk-in clinic.


All of this being said, not all mechanics are created equal. It's true that many are great, honest individuals that have your car's maintenance (and your pocketbook) in mind, however there are a few crooks out there. Chiropractors and physiotherapists are also not all created equal. Surely we have all heard stories of the chiropractor who is extremely brief, and just wants to get you in for an adjustment then usher you out the door. Most, however, are truly concerned for your well-being, and follow evidence based practices to improve your condition.

If you want your car to run right, you take responsibility and do the maintenance. When it's something that you can't do on your own, you take it to the shop and have the right guy do it. If you want your body to work right, you take responsibility and do your maintenance by getting active and eating right. However when it comes to those serious aches and pains, get yourself to your friendly, neigborhood chiropractor.

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