Our bodies send hundreds of signals each day. Signals that let us know when we are thirsty, sleepy, hungry, or hurt provide guidelines for meeting our ongoing maintenance needs. These signals can also keep us safe. For example, listening to your body is a key factor for reducing the likelihood of sports injuries. It may even be important for keeping off the unwanted pounds that come with overeating or poor eating habits. Here are some signals your body might send and what they are trying to tell you.
Pain or swelling
This may be a sign of a joint injury or strain to the muscles, tendons or ligaments surrounding the joint. Use the RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) method. If you don’t find relief in a few days consult your doctor. Pushing through pain may sound tough, but it often leads to further damage.
Tenderness behind your knee cap or a feeling that the knee may give way is a common sign of Patellofemoral pain syndrome. It can affect one or both knees and is more common among women. Heed the signal and build up your quads. Also, warm up tight calves and hamstring before your workout to reduce overcompensation that can lead to knee injury. You may also need to switch your run to softer surfaces and avoid adding too many miles
There are days when your energy is low but you can still get in a workout. Then there are the days when even swinging your arms too high takes significant effort. Your body may be trying to tell you it is time for a rest day. Rest days aren’t the same as slacking off. They are important for building muscle, avoiding overuse injury and even improving your performance. Listen to the body to learn the difference between wanting to goof off and needing to take a break. When your body tells you it is time to take a break – listen.
Numbness or tingling
Loss of feeling or tingling in the body is not normal. If you experience these symptoms, don’t ignore them.
Loss of focus
Inability to concentrate or give full attention to the task at hand may be a sign that you are ready for a little variety or even a rest day. Mix up your workouts to stay challenged and interested. After all, you have to go all in to give it your best and you can’t really do that if you aren’t even giving the workout your full attention.
Lethargy, dizziness, nausea
These may all be signs that you are overheated, dehydrated or working out too hard. Be sure to take in fluids throughout hard workouts and frequently in hot weather. Stop or slow down until the feeling subsides. Also, have a small snack with carbs and protein before you get started so you have enough energy to power through.
The best advice for receiving and interpreting the signals your body gives is simply to notice. Don’t ignore pain or discomfort. A small warning now is your body’s way of helping you avoid big problems later.