Listen to Your Body
We alway hear about the ever important concept of listening to your body--but what the heck does that even mean?! Basically, listening to your body involves being aware of how you feel before, during, and after a workout to reduce risk of injury or illness.
Before A Workout
It can be challenging trying to decide if you should proceed with a workout when you're not feeling your best--maybe you're really tired for a crazy day or coming down with something and the workout could make you feel better, or maybe you really do need to take a step back and rest.
There are a couple of options to determine this:
1. Take a couple of minutes to focus on your breathing and get into a good mindset for your workout. If you find that you can't focus at all and don't feel any level of improvement from the breathing exercise, it's probably best that you not continue--your risk of injury will be drastically higher!
2. Give yourself 7 minutes of the workout to determine if you can finish it out. This 7 minutes will include the warm up/movement prep and introduction into the body of the workout, so if you feel like you are completely maxed out this early in, it's best to call it a day.
During A Workout
This is definitely the most challenging and important time to listen to your body--you're fully engaged in movement and the goal is to get through it without injury.
If you decided to push through the workout in the previous scenario, it is recommended that you take the workout at a lower intensity than you normally would--50%-75% as an estimation but even less depending on how you feel. Opt for modifications and low impact.
Whether you feel great or are pushing through, it's also important to pay attention to pain. There's a difference in workout discomfort and full on pain that will cause injury--injury pain usually is sharp (we referenced the sudden "ah!" callout when it's pain) and whatever movement you are doing, stop doing it! You can always take a moment to evaluate your form and recheck your posture or switch to the modified version or a steady march--whatever gets you through that part of the workout.
After A Workout
Hydrate and give your body time to recover! Muscle soreness is to be expected--stretching and doing recovery movements are always a plus. Also, remember to get a good night's rest and to eat to replenish and fuel for the next time!
You know what's best for YOU, so always follow your instincts. Your brain processes so much in real time behind the scenes that when you get the signal that something is wrong, you should definitely follow it!