Has your fitness instructor or doctor ever told you to “Listen to your body”? I swear I’ve heard that all of my life: Listen to your body. If it hurts don’t do it. Modify down. Modify up. So many variations of the same thing, all culminating in, well you guessed it, listening to your body.
It took me a long time to realize what that truly meant. And I’m still learning it every damn day. From the fuel my body craves to the exercise it wants to the rest and relaxation that it needs. Once I started REALLY getting into fitness during the start of my weight loss a few years ago, I started listening to what my body wanted: more exercise and to push myself harder.
As my body went through and continues to experience so many significant changes between weight loss, muscle gain, and different workout routines, I started noticing aches and pains here and there. Sometimes they are just tweaks of my shifting and changing body, and other times they are in fact injuries from pushing too hard. This past week it seems like I’ve been in and out of appointments. One day last week I woke up and couldn’t move my left arm higher than my shoulder in certain positions. It hurt like crazy. I knew something wasn’t right and it felt like more than just a sore muscle. Turns out, I have a partial tear in my shoulder/rotator cuff area (don’t ask me which muscle because I couldn’t spell it even if I tried). So now for the next 4 weeks while it heals, I get to tape my arm and modify movements down to not further the issue.
While this sports injury is a bit more extreme, I manage the minor tweaks with regular chiropractic and physical therapy appointments. I will literally walk in to my appointment and ask for a “tune-up” as I’m typically just getting maintenance on my body to maintain its performance level. We get regular tune-ups for our cars, but it seems like more often than not we don’t put that same effort into our own bodies.
Just as important as those tune-ups and sports massages is the care in between them. It’s an integral piece to my continued success on this journey (and hopefully yours too!).
Let’s be honest, we all know what the biggest part of self-care for athletes is: stretching! While I am super great about stretching immediately after a workout class, I find it difficult to have the same dedication at home. Turns out, all it takes is a few stretching accessories to help keep me motivated to care for myself.
One of my favorite discoveries has been the Roll Recovery R8. This crazy looking device has helped me keep my IT bands in tip-top shape but also helps me work out tight muscles in my quads, hamstrings, calves, and glutes. It’s a bit of an investment but SO worth it. I’ve loved the R8 and the stretch mat so much that I’m hoping to get the Roll Recovery R3 for Christmas to combat plantar fasciitis!
Every athlete seems to have a foam roller in their arsenal too, and was the first piece of equipment I invested in to help me massage out sore muscles that I couldn’t reach myself. I upgraded my basic foam roller to the Thrive Premium Foam Roller which has three different size pressure zones (finger tip, finger/thumb, and palm), so you can apply the appropriate amount of pressure to the right area. This is seriously a game changer.
And of course, there’s that listening to your body part, too. If you’re not sure of how to stretch a particular area, your fitness professional should be able to offer you suggestions. But remember, if you think you may be injured, get to the pros!