The human body is quite extraordinary. Over the years people have accomplished great feats that seem impossible. From the four minute mile to climbing Everest the body has few limits. But there comes a time where you need to stop breaking barriers and listen to your body for a moment. It’s talking to you. Are you listening?
A few years ago I was an avid practitioner of Mixed Martial Arts. It’s a sport where you combine the kicks and punches of the stand-up game with the wrestling and Jiu-Jitsu of the ground game. It’s an unforgiving sport and I loved every second of it.
But as I continued to immerse myself in this sport I ran into some roadblocks. Little injuries were popping up every day, a knee that was tweaked, a muscle that was pulled, a toe that was broken. It was becoming a common occurrence to live life in pain. My sport was making me an old man while I was still in high school…or so I thought.
What was really going down was I was too damn stubborn to listen to my body. My love for the sport blinded me from pain. Although that sounds admirable it really does more harm than good.
If you are in the midst of a marathon or a cage fight you need that kind of energy, but if you are just training then it’s time to start using your head more than your heart.
When I had injuries pop up in training I ignored them and kept going. One time my neck made a weird popping noise that hurt like hell. I tapped out. Rubbed my neck a little and then kept grappling. Dumb dumb dumb.
Your GPS System
“Feelings are your GPS system for life.” – Oprah Winfrey
Feelings will guide you through life but your body will guide you through fitness.
Your stomach growls = Eat something.
Your stomach hurts = Stop eating.
Your knee hurts = Lay off of it.
I can give examples for days.
Your brain is shooting signals to your body and it is up to you to listen.
Caveat: I will admit that I am a firm believer that at certain times you need to go past those points of pain to make strides in fitness. Your body has certain limits and if you can train your brain to move past those limits you can discover a whole new world of possibilities.
But there is a time and a place for everything. Sometimes you will cross that threshold and other times you will damage your body.
So how can you distinguish between the two?
There are a few factors:
1. Experience – How long have you been doing this? Whether it be running, lifting or fighting it is important to look at your experience. If you haven’t been doing it for a while then it’s probably best to err on the side of caution. Your muscles are getting used to this exercise. Let them adjust before you push forward.
2. Conscious Feeling – How are you feeling? Are you feeling pain that will cause an injury or pain because your exercise is intense? There’s a big difference. If your knee hurts so much you can’t walk right then please stop. But if you’ve got a cramp because you’re on your third mile then by all means keep going.
3. Conscious Action – What are you going to do about it? Once you’ve identified the two factors above its time to make a decision. Keep going and push past your current point. Or acknowledge a legitimate injury and live to fight another day.
It’s been a few years since those days of Mixed Martial Arts. My love for the sport has never died but now I proceed with caution. Injuries still pop up from time to time but I have stopped ignoring the warning signs and started listening up.
Your body is a GPS system. Set your direction and start navigating your fitness journey.
By Kevin Cole (@PerformDestiny).
Kevin a is full-time writer and entrepreneur. He writes for the blog Perform Destiny which is all about owning life personally and professionally. Pick up a copy of his Free Life Ownership Course if you want to set your own rules, follow your own path and take back your life.