Signs You’re Checking In With Your Body Too Much

by | Mar 29, 2024 | Blog

I am a big proponent of developing regular practices to check-in with our bodies. It’s a skill that is needed now more than ever as we are regularly bombarded with all the ways we can check out & dissociate (something that can feel much better than the initial discomfort that bubbles to the surface the second we slow down and pause to check-in).

In fact, I work on it with most of my clients and have blogs and podcast episodes created all about checking in with and listening to your body (check out the series here, here, and here)

AND.

Like most things, there’s a flip side. Another end of the spectrum.

How annoying, right? 🙃

It is entirely possible to have a check-in practice that is too much or too often that it ends up stalling or derailing your efforts in rehab, keeping you in the pain cycle.

In this blog you’ll learn:

  • Why checking in too often can be problematic
  • How checking in with your body too much contributes to the chronic pain cycle
  • The beginning steps in finding more of a middle ground with this practice

Too Much of A Good Thing

When you’ve dealt with pain for a long time, it can feel like there is a magnifying glass over the area.

When you’ve seen a lot of providers, it feels like there is this permanent hyperfocus on the area of the pain:

👉 Every PT session: “how’s the pain?” and “on a scale of 1-10…” and “can you describe it?”. Not once or twice, but multiple times and often during every single exercise.

👉 Every new assessment or evaluation ends up becoming a giant list of every “problem” in your body; everything that’s “wrong” with your body and how you move.

👉 And many times you’ll receive advice to avoid the pain or try to reduce activities that stir up your pain, which leads to constant micromanaging of your workouts or daily activities driven by repeatedly ‘checking in’ with the painful area to see how it’s doing.

It can be absolutely exhausting. No wonder it feels like there is this permanent magnifying glass hovering over your pain or injury.

Before we get any further, let’s remember that those things mentioned above aren’t inherently wrong. It doesn’t mean your rehab was bad, caused more problems, or wasted your time.

Those approaches work fine for some people. They may have even worked for you in the moment or for some time. But now they aren’t, and here’s why.

Why Checking In Too Much Becomes a Problem

Do you know what is most correlated with persistent pain that impacts our lives the most? Fear, feeling afraid.

Hyperfixating on your injury or pain, frequently checking in to see if it’s “okay”, and being told things about your body that are “wrong” or limited by people that you place high trust in does not communicate a sense of safety. It doesn’t instill confidence in your body.

In fact, it’s quite the opposite. And more fear lends a hand to more pain. It can be quite the vicious cycle.

The underlying messaging across the board in those circumstances is that there is something wrong, or that movement is inherently dangerous or that it’s damaging something in your body. And if your experience with pain is coupled with the idea that pain means something is damaged, you can see how this happens.

When you check in a lot, it enhances the magnifying glass, enhancing this heightened awareness, this fear, and ultimately the pain you’re experiencing.

While checking in with the area is important, the problem is when this becomes frequent & coupled with fear and anxiety.

It’s not the what, it’s the why and how often.

When it’s helpful: When you are deliberately taking a moment to pause and see how your entire body is feeling.

(This is something that many people do benefit from working on because they have a tendency to override sensations of fatigue, hunger, etc.)

When it might be problematic: When it’s driven by a sense of fear or urgency and when it’s too frequent.

So, Now What?

For some clients, this process begins with just simply noticing how many times they are “checking in” with their pain/injury over the course of a day or a week. While they practice this, I’ll often have them also pay attention to the context around the behavior:

  • Patterns: Does this happen during particularly stressful moments? Or certain activities?
  • Additional thoughts that come up during these moments: Does your brain run off into thought spirals about your future?
  • How do you feel in those moments: Are these moments coupled feelings of fear or urgency?

Part of learning to trust your body again is actually practicing trusting it, which means letting go of the hyperfocus and micromanaging of how it’s doing.

While there is often more work to be done in learning to trust your body more, simply creating this awareness and learning a little more about your own ‘pain personality’ can help you identify an entry point in breaking the cycle and reducing the magnifying glass feeling.

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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