The Upside of Pain
None of us really want to feel pain when we walk or run. There are times when you might enjoy a satisfying burn during a workout, and perhaps a bit of an ache the next day. But pain that limits your ability to focus or enjoy life, can be scary. “What if this doesn’t change?” “Do I need to see a doctor?” The fear makes us avoid pain, often at great cost.
Avoiding, discounting or covering up pain defeats your body's way of waking you up to the fact that something is not right. Pain and it’s younger sibling, discomfort, have the same message: “You are doing something that is not in alignment with how we should move and function. What you are doing is not in our best interest. There is a better way.” And, might also include the message, “Please, stop and investigate what a better way might be.”
With every step, whether running or walking, Danny and I try to body sense is the difference between healthy resistance, and unnecessary effort that can lead to overuse, tension, pain and potentially injury. The more you listen, the more you’ll know in advance when there's an injury in the making.
It’s similar to a cold or flu. If you fail to respond immediately to the early signals, you can get slammed. But if you catch the early warnings; a little irritation in the nose or throat, a kind of tiredness that has the feeling of viral attack rather than normal fatigue, a fuzziness in the head that could become a headache, then you know it's time to act. Danny and I have our protocol and know what to do.
The same holds true with running. The moment you feel a twinge of too much effort in your feet or legs, you'll know, “I'm not using my core enough.” Even when going uphill, know that a sense of heavy effort is your body telling you that an immediate adjustment needs to be made. Even uphill you do not have to push or pull. There are much easier ways.
Your body is the perfect feedback system for improving your running and your health. It's always going to be your best teacher, if you just listen to it. With practice, you’ll feel that keeping my upper torso forward and aligned with your lower body makes movement easier. You’ll find out that keeping your shoulders still and allowing your pelvis to rotate, makes your running more fluid. Leading with your torso makes your core engage and gives you a deep sense of strength in your center and relaxation in your legs. All of this I've learned from listening to what my body is telling me, and then trying out slight variations until I find what works best.
Not to say that pain an injury can’t come on quickly. It can. In which case your focus will be on healing and minimizing the damage. While healing, it is very tricky to distinguish between productive or non-productive pain. It is a time to listen even more intently to your body and err on the side of slow progress.
When I'm in discomfort, the first thing I always ask myself is, "What am I doing to cause this?" and usually, the answer is not to far away. The sooner you respond, the more effective the result. It's what I call I "shrinking the consequences," and sometimes I can eliminate them altogether.
And, by the way, if you do feel a cold or flu coming on…here are a few suggestions that have kept us healthy for years:
· Take an Oscillococcinum
· Drink a buffered vitamin C powder a couple of times a day
· Delete all sweets
· Add in some warm, nourishing liquids
· Get extra rest
· Drink apple cider vinegar in water
· Get some fresh-air exercise, but Chi Walk-Run, rather than push too hard