Question your body

Naturalists and hippie types often offer up the adage “listen to your body” to people dealing with physical issues. I find that the more I think about this, the more I question this advice.

I’ll give you an example. As everyone knows, I have repetitive strain injuries in my forearms. Lately, due to increased guitar playing, I’ve been feeling it more acutely — essentially aches and pains in my hands, knuckles and arms. So, we can presume this is my body saying, “take it easy.”

Last Friday, I did a solo acoustic guitar performance. The day of the performance, my hands were definitely feeling achy, and I felt like my grip strength was low (grip strength being pretty useful when you’re gripping a guitar or guitar pick.) I had pretty low expectations for the quality of my playing at that show. However, once I started playing I was largely unaware of the pain, and played quite well. And I’ve noticed this sort of thing in the past. My suspicion is the excitement of playing live gives me some kind of adrenaline rush which releases painkilling endorphins into my body. And that rush usually lasts into the next day. The aches and pains aren’t gone, but they’re much more manageable.

However, if I’m supposed to listen to my body, which series of “reports” should I be listening to? The pain leading up to the show seems to be saying “take it easy, limit your activities etc.” but the endorphin rush during the show and after is saying “don’t worry about it.”

Now this kind of thing does make sense from an evolutionary perspective. If you’re a caveman fighting off a tiger, and it bites into your arm, the pain shouldn’t so debilitate you that you’re incapable of fighting or fleeing from a tiger. In moments of stress or excitement, you should have some painkillers going through your system. On the other hand, you should feel that pain later, when you’re safe, to essentially learn the lesson to stay away from tigers. But I think the body delivers these messages in a imperfect way. It’s very difficult to know whether certain aches and pains are indicators of horrific damage down the line, or not much at all.

1 Response to “Question your body”


  1. John Saleeby

    I have felt like crap for the past couple of days. I will spare you the details. But I am such a retard I have kinda forgotten that I had run out of one of several dozen medications it takes to keep me sane and healthy these days and today when a bottle of pills suddenly arrived in the mail it occurred to me that I have not had a dose of this shit almost a week probably accounts for my feeling so crummy. And all this time I seriously thought that I had some terrible disease was going to die.

    What a LET DOWN!!