Not all bodies are the same and it’s time we stop judging ourselves for being different. We shouldn’t all be exercising the same way…or at least approach the ways we love to move with better awareness about what is best for our individual bodies.
Where’s the line between our bodies benefiting from moving more and working ourselves into an injury? Why is it that one of your friends can run multiple marathons but your neck, low back, and leg hurt after one extra hard workout? Do you just accept pain as part of a symptom of exercise?
People we work with who are involved in high intensity exercise (bootcamp, spinning etc.) represent the piece of the pie that is dealing with a pain, discomfort or injury. We work to get them to acknowledge they need to shift their mindset and workout habits if they are going to keep doing what they love without always be no hurt.
Here are some things these people have in common:
1.They want to be stronger
2.They love to sweat
3.They believe that soreness and pushing themselves is a type of success in workouts
4.They have trouble distinguishing between good hard exertion and pain or discomfort
5.They describe themselves as being really stressed out and exercise is a release for that
6.They express the belief that they need to lose weight in a short amount of time
The biggest thing that shows up for me after a decade of working with people with some type of physical issue or injury is that the mind-body connection is bigger than we often realize. The normalizing and ignoring of discomfort (even before injury or pain shows up) is not good because by the time pain or injury does show up, the “ignore” button is on and the pain or injury is quite critical. And some cases you may have to interrupt your routine completely to deal with it.
We’re creatures of habit. Because of that we get into trouble by defaulting to the path of least resistance. Those of us who love to push ourselves to do physically super demanding work might consider if it’s our mental piece that needs to be challenged. It might just be the reason you don’t feel drawn to challenging coordination in a dance class, or doing a yoga class that focuses on slow sustained movement rather than a power vinyasa (the yoga version high intensity workout).
Do you desire to zone out when you exercise? Maybe you should challenge yourself to tune in. Similarly, there are people who only want to do slow stretchy movement when they need to be showing themselves that it really is OK to huff and puff a little.
People have their preferences (meditation and a glass of wine can both help you to relax) but if your preference becomes your default (the only choice you make again and again) you may be closing yourself off to opportunity. There is no wrong way to move. If your body can do it, by all means take that gift as an option. Just remember that exercise is meant to be self-care not self-punishment.