Listen to your GUT and body

This article is a quick read, about 10 minutes grab a piece of paper and pen, enjoy!

THE BODY constantly message you by priorities what you need.
It’s fabulous, it’s a free service the brain offers you and no app needed! The bonus and most important of it all, it prioritize what you need. It’s a great platform to depend on to make daily/weekly decisions to stay healthy, strong, energized and to avoid any repercussion.

For athletes it’s a message your brain sends that refers to slowing down, extra rest, maintenance is needed, or simply that all is going great especially if you are constantly waking up energized, feeling strong when you train, no soreness, never injured and see progressive strength/endurance gains, weeks after weeks.

Needless to say we all go through ‘weaker’ phases, which we receive important messages but do we listen to our body, do we adapt?

Look at your last week, what messages did you get?
Write them down and highlight the most frequent ones.
In the morning, throughout the day, before, during and post workout, overnight… pain,
soreness, hunger, sleepy, energetic, thirsty, wired…
Did you do anything about it?

You feel tired – you need rest
You are sleepy – you need sleep
You are hungry – you need healthy & nutrient meals
Always injured – you are either overtraining; too much volume, too much intensity or not enough recovery, or all of the above!
You have recurring injury in the same spot – you are not taking care of your muscular weakness and/or musculoskeletal imbalances and/or overlooking rehabilitation.
You have sore quadriceps after skiing – you need to build eccentric strength
You feel empowered – you are peaking
Your legs feel strong – your training is going great
You pee all the time – you are dehydrated and putting stress on liver & kidney
You have great energy – you are well balanced
You are constantly irritated…
The list goes on…

Important: an injury is an overlooked message!

WHEN SOMETHING IS FUNCTIONALLY wrong or you feel an uncomfortable sensation, trust your instinct.
The body does not lie, more than often we just decide to ignore it. You feel a sharp pain in your knee every time you jump, heard a snap when you rolled your ankle, feel a sharp pain in your butt every time you sit, constant sore neck, regular shooting pain down your leg, sore throat for 2 weeks, your stomach aches while you run, slight soreness in your hamstring when you ski, sleep 10hrs but always exhausted… do something about it, don’t pretend it’s not happening.

Discomfort can be mild or severe, both can be important, don’t underestimate it. Obviously It can come from a sudden trauma, a fall, but also from doing too much or not enough! It can also come from a disease or an infection, blood test can be a good answer at times.

Training puts tremendous force on the body – Often what feels right might be too much.

It does not necessarily mean you are injured, a few days rest, a good sport massage will take care of it. At times an MRI or X-ray can save you days of discomfort, stress, unknown, and foremost further damage, and an action plan can be put into place.

YOU DON’T HAVE TIME to listen to your body!
Multi-tasking between family, work, travel, social life and training often leads to ignoring what your body is telling you – you are running on pure adrenaline, which long term can be a toxic drug!

Often what feels right to an athlete/individual does not mean it’s the best, it’s a perception of what you need and want so it feels right, but the body can already be fatigued by then. It’s important to make the difference between a healthy and an overtaxing training session.

Also think of jet lag/long travels, illness – cold/flu, multiple late nights, racing every weekend, pressure with high volume training, too much alcohol, fatigued, malnourished, regularly sleep less than 6hrs, skipping meals, training on low calories, training when exhausted….

If you don’t listen…
You slowly chipped away at your body and forced rest will be next.
Ego is the ultimate killer, nobody is invisible.

Continuous training when exhausted is a huge taxation on the body, overtraining symptoms can come next followed by an injury or an immune system disorder in the worst case scenario.

Obviously we all go through stages that we don’t feel our best, this is when we need to be aware an adjust our training and daily routine accordingly. But to continuously push the body in a negative high speed routine is extremely detrimental to your fitness and long term health.

Weakness in not an injury

Same goes when recovering from an injury, does not mean it feels good to be back in the gym for 1hour each day that it’s a good thing for your body!

I once worked with a professional ballet dancer who was recovering from ankle surgery, pain and inflammation would not go away, he kept telling me that his ‘training’ (time he would spend in the gym doing rehab drills & exercises) felt good. He was convinced he was not doing too much- the truth he was doing way too much for the stage he was at. What felt good to him was standing, training, sweating, using his body. But his body was overworked, not healing, he was doing too much of rehab, more than I was prescribing.

STRENGTHENING is a natural process
Strength is crucial in the entire chain and most people have no methodical approach to building strength or they think they do! Doing core exercises, lifting weights, performing squats or push-ups regularly, or skate skiing 4 times a week won’t give you all the strength needed.

Functional strength is about dissecting movements to perfection and activating all muscles involved around the joints to maintain proper mechanics, be stable, mobile, powerful with great stamina for repeated hours of sport specific training; running, skiing, climbing, riding…

How do we do this?
With sports specific functional drills & exercises that challenges your musculoskeletal weaknesses to build dynamic speed, strength and power needed for the sport. You create a body stronger than the actual demand of the sport!

For example to have strong ankles it’s important the entire chain leading down to it is also strong so while the ankle is being challenged (toe-off running, power at the hip in cycling, a ski turn); the gluteus medius/maximus, quadratus femoris, adductor longus, soleus, … they all need to engage at the right time so proper mechanics can be executed,  it’s about sequencing!

For climbers, finger board, TRX & myofascial training are good examples.

A maintenance routine should be part of our daily routine, like training. Whatever your physical vulnerabilities are, do something about it. Do not use excuses like I have a bad back, over mobile ankle, tight hamstrings, sore ITB, pain in my achilles… or I don’t have time, make the time!

Seek help and guidance with the right person: qualified coach or trainer, sport med doctor, sport rehab expert, a qualified friend…
It could be as simple as daily foam rolling to the tender area, spray cold water on legs after workout, take a recovery drink after each training sessions, heel raises to maintain  lower leg strength… or book one massage every 2 weeks and so on.

The ‘quick fix’ mentality gets you nowhere; more than often you don’t need a cortisone shot, and injection or miracle remedies, you need rest!

When you train regularly, months after months and years after years, your sport is embedded in your muscle memory. Train properly and you will feel great, stay injury free and see on-going results. But only if you listen to the daily messages your body sends you- listen and do something about it!

Get inspired and take good care of yourself!

Thanks for reading… Chloë

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