Listening to Your Body

by Stephanie on January 28, 2011 · 0 comments

in Injury

People react differently to pain, especially pain felt during exercise.  Some people stop at the slightest ache or twinge while others run through sharp pains, boiling blisters, and stress fractures.   So what should you do?

Listen to your body. 

I mean it.  Just listen.  Your body is capable of much more than you think possible.  It also knows its limits.  If you push it too far or too fast or you’re doing something wrong, it will let you know either during or after the workout.  The problem is that athletes can be stubborn and not take heed of these signs. 

I’ve been guilty of this more than one time.  Like last night for instance, when the right side of my lower back/top of my butt (possibly the SI joint?) began hurting about 5 minutes into a treadmill run.  I wanted to keep going so I kept on running til the clock read 10 minutes and then slowed to a brisk walk.  After a few minutes I tried running again and found I couldn’t keep it up for more than a minute without pain.  I kept walking only to find about 5 minutes later that it was too painful to do that as well.  I ended up on the couch with an ice pack and unable to play in my volleyball league later that night.

What I should have done is listen to my body telling me after those first 5 minutes that this wasn’t a good idea.  I should have said to myself “wow that hurts” and slowed to a walk immediately.  And when I found it still hurt, I should have shut the machine off and been done for the day. 

Here are a few general rules for listening to your body.  I’m going to try to follow them better!

  • Recognize aches and pains and their severity.  A dull ache is probably not reason enough to stop, but you need to be aware of it in case it worsens.
  • If you experience pain, slow down and gauge how it feels.  If the pain is as strong at the lower level of intensity it is probably a good idea to call it a day.
  • Take into account how you feel.  If you’re a little tired or stressed, a workout can help perk you up.  If you’re exhausted or worn down, you may be better off taking a rest day.  If you are run down, it can affect your form and make you more prone to pain and injury. (I’m certain this is what happened to me last night!) 
  • If you experience sharp pains or any ache or pain you are feeling causes you to alter your form/stride/stroke/body position, STOP.
  • If you have to stop a workout, take at least one day off to rest.
  • Ice aches and pains and try to rest the aggravated area.
  • If pain persists more than a few days or gets worse, get it checked out.
  • Try non-impact exercises like swimming when aches and pains prevent you from doing other activities.  It is relaxing, a good workout, and the fluid motion is easy on your body.

 

One reason people have trouble following the advice above is because they feel like stopping a workout is a bad thing.  It’s not.  The world will not end.  You will not lose any fitness or strength by stopping or skipping one workout to take care of yourself.  On the flip side, if you do listen to your body you can probably head off bigger injuries that take longer to heal. 

Though the pain in my back/butt is not serious (I don’t think), it is annoying.  If I had stopped right away it may not have hurt as bad as it did at the end.  I may not be in pain today.  Instead I’m still in some pain today and will spend my evening icing between board games with visiting friends, in hopes that I can do my long run tomorrow without pain. 

And if there is pain tomorrow, I’ll try my hardest to listen!

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