Note: I'm no fitness expert--that's Coach Nicole--so please don't use this blog post as a way to diagnose or treat any injury, pain or tweak you're feeling. Listen to your body, and consult a professional if you sense anything is amiss.
Our bodies are complex systems, and even when we feel healthy and happy, they're not operating at 100% capacity or efficiency. No body is perfect, and sometimes identifying the source of a flaw can be difficult.
When you're active, aches and pains are not uncommon. I don't mean injuries; I mean some soreness or achiness. (More: Smart Ways to Soothe Sore Muscles) I don't "no pain, no gain"; I don't subscribe to that myth. (Learn to spot the signs of overtraining.) I mean the discomfort that sometimes accompanies exercise: the burn in your muscles, the stiffness in your joints, and all the other tweaks and twinges you feel in your body.
Before I started working out regularly, I don't remember having many injuries or much soreness, aside from my weak low back. In the last year, however, I've noticed an increasing number of aches and pains. I often pose this question to my yoga teacher: Is it because I'm more active, or is it because I am more aware of my body and notice even minor changes?
What's causing these ailments? Most of the time, the problem isn't my body--it's my ego. I stop listening to my body and let my ego take over.
"You can push harder--and even harder still. You can hold longer. You can run farther. You can go faster."
Then, I pay.
Maybe it's a knee that's tender, a back that's knotted up, or an elbow that feels overstretched.
What's the fix?
I listen. I rest. I ignore the ego. I listen to my body.
I know, this is something we've blogged about quite a few times in the past, but it bears repeating! Read these to learn more:
Habits of Fit People: Listen to Your Body
When Your Body Speaks, Do You Listen?
4 Lessons Learned from Listening to My Body
Every tweak and twinge that has turned into something more serious could have been prevented if I had just ignored my ego and looked at the bigger picture.
Would I rather do less today and tomorrow or push through and risk being sidelined for a week? Would I rather hold back in a pose and feel no discomfort or push through and end up injured?
The ego is what tells us to add another two miles to our runs every day this week, even though we know we shouldn't increase mileage more than 10% a week.
It's what tells us to mimic the woman next to us in yoga class, rather than modifying a posture based on our own body's limitations and capabilities.
And it's what tells us that we've failed if we don't do more, better, faster, longer, stronger NOW!
There's a fine line between motivating yourself and letting the ego take over. That line is different for every person in every situation, but the more time we spend listening to our bodies, the more time we spend learning about healthy living, and the less time we spend worrying about what everyone else thinks, the better off we'll be.
Rest, ice, compression, doing less--those all help me get back on the mat and working to my fullest potential. I remind myself that taking care of my body doesn't just happen during a workout or a yoga practice, it happens after, with recovery, rest, nutrition and sleep.
Listen to your body. Ignore your ego.
More self-care tips:
Ouch! Avoiding the Aches and Pains
11 Exercises that Help Decrease Knee Pain
Bouncing Back after an Injury
4 Easy Ways to Avoid Injury in the Weight Room
5 Reasons I've Never Had a Running Injury
Do you fight with your ego during workouts?
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