Learning The Language Of Your Body, Part 3

by | Aug 31, 2023 | Blog

If you’ve missed the first 2 posts in this series, check them out here:

In part 3, we’re going to bring it all together, by drawing the link between the practice of listening to your body and pain/injuries, followed by simple steps to begin implementing this practice into your daily life, especially as it pertains to fitness.

Pain As Part of Our Bodies’ Language

Most of our bodies’ cues start as whispers, gentle nudges. Simple requests for a change.

When we’re too busy and ignore them, they get suppressed (temporarily), until they escalate.

Much like a toddler who wants something, they are persistent, eventually leading to a shouting match when ignored long enough.

(This makes sense, as the job of our bodies is to keep us alive).

This is often the case for pain (which can be thought of as another sensation or way our bodies communicate to us that something needs to change, a threat might be present).

Often, these painful episodes start with early warning signs, such as feeling extra fatigued, weak, more stiff and tight, etc. Signs that many of us have not been taught to pay attention to much less how to interpret them.

…which brings us back full circle to the reason for this series.

Effects of Ignoring Your Body’s Cues

Having trouble listening to your body cues can contribute to a lot of different dysfunctions like chronic or persistent pain and injuries, urgency and bladder issues, incontinence, constant colds and illnesses, and more.

When we combine these struggles with toxic fitness industry messaging like “go hard or go home” and “no pain, no gain”, along with “all-or-nothing” mindsets, we end up with a perfect storm for pushing our bodies far beyond their breaking points and right into injuries and pain.

If that’s you, all is not lost, and you’d be surprised what can happen with just a few months of implementing this work into your life.

How To Get Started:

1. Create a regular movement practice.

There are a lot of ways to do this, but my personal favorite is a daily CARs practice because they serve a handful of other benefits as well (see the blog about them here).

The idea is to simply spend some time without distractions, where you can pause and pay attention to how your body is feeling. This will help you create a better idea of how your body typically feels, so you can have a “standard” to compare over time. Think about it as a time to “check in” with your body for the day. It can be as little as 5 minutes, or as long as 20-30. The key is starting small so you can keep up the frequency as close to daily as possible.

2. Implement mindful check-ins throughout the day.

The more you slow down and the less rushed you are, the more cues you’ll notice.

My favorite for myself & my clients is through breathwork. Just a few mindful, slow breaths where you close your mouth, breathe through your nose slowly, and feel where your breath travels in and out throughout the day can really add up. They can be added to things you already do every day, such as every time you go to the restroom, at every stop light, before or after CARs, etc.

3. Practice reflecting on things happening in your life the past several days/weeks/months that may be contributing to how you feel.

This again requires us to carve space out of our busy days, but a little investigating can go a long way. Get curious about how you feel, and notice any judgements or thoughts that come up from your brain as you do so.

4. Use the traffic light method for adjusting your workouts to your recovery.

The main benefit from a warm-up isn’t that the movement itself prevents injuries. The injury prevention component of a warm-up actually lies in your ability to check-in with your body and adjust your workout to what your body can handle that day.

(This is known as autoregulation in fitness).

The traffic light analogy can be helpful in getting started with this concept. The idea is rating how recovered you are based on how you feel (some examples shown below):

and then adjusting the intensity of your movement practice accordingly:
Keep in mind these changes will take time & lots and lots of practice, so be patient. There is no “right way” to navigate these concepts, so being open to experimenting is key.

And while the best teacher is experience, having a coach or therapist to support you & offer some guidance along the way can also be helpful. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!

To learn more about setting a mobility-focused goal, check out my free masterclass called Kickstart Your Mobility Training!

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A photo of Dr. Jen Hosler standing with a barbell instructing the deadlift.

Hi, I'm Dr. Jen Hosler.

I’m a bookworm, science nerd, and coach of all things movement (physical therapist and strength & mobility coach). You can catch me sleeping in & having a slow morning, doing CARs & lifting heavy things, or sipping a glass of wine on my time off.

Through a blend of strength & mobility training, I’ll help you master your movement & build a more resilient body that won’t hold you back from all the activities you love doing.

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