One of the things we try to teach every patient throughout our physical therapy sessions is the importance of listening to their bodies during athletic activity and exercise. Patients may come to realize that this is important, but unless they know how to effectively listen to the messages our bodies are sending, it may not do any good. In today’s blog, we explain how to effectively listen to your body during activity so you can reduce your injury risk.
Listen To What Your Body Is Telling You
We know that listening to our body is important, but what types of messages should we be looking for and responding to? Here’s what your body is oftentimes trying to tell you during exercise, and how to listen to it.
- Labored Breathing – Exercise is supposed to get your heart rate up and force you to draw more oxygen into your lungs, but if your breathing becomes labored or heavy, it’s a sign that you need to back off or take a break. When we’re out of breath, more of our attention gets focused on our breathing and less attention can get focused on our extremities. People tend to land harder on their feet when they are having a hard time catching their breath, and this can lead to foot injuries or more stress on ankle and knee joints. If your breathing is labored, back off your pace or sub out of the game for a bit.
- Pain vs. Soreness – This is a little easier said than done, but it’s important to begin to learn how to distinguish between pain and soreness. It’s great that you’re sore after an intense workout, but you shouldn’t be in pain. Pain is a sign that you’re dealing with an underlying injury. No pain, no gain is a terrible motto, because the most rewarding workouts don’t cause pain. If your workout is causing pain, adjust it or stop before it leads to a full blown injury.
- Thirst and Sweat – Sweating is your body’s way of regulating its temperature and expelling fluids from your body, and the thirst sensation is how your body attempts to indicate that it needs more fluids in your system. Take note of how much you’re sweating during intense workouts or on warm days, and replenish your body with healthy fluids when you get thirsty. Water is your best bet to help your body remain hydrated.
- Tightness and Inflexibility – If you are experiencing muscle tightness or have a limited range of motion in an area of your body, it could be indicative of a few things. Maybe you just need to take a little more time stretching and warming up prior to activity to loosen these areas up. However, if it lingers through activity or lasts for an extended period of time, you may benefit from connecting with a physical therapist. Left untreated, tightness and flexibility issues could cause joint dysfunction or muscle tears.
If you want more help learning how to listen to your body, or for individualized tips catered to your personal situation, reach out to the experienced therapy team at OrthoRehab Specialists today.