What Do You Mean “Listen To Your Body?”

Discussion in 'Front Page News' started by Barefoot TJ, Jan 3, 2013.

  1. Barefoot TJ Administrator
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    What Do You Mean “Listen To Your Body?”
    By Jason Robillard

    Go to any barefoot running forum and you’ll see people giving advice to “listen to your body.” It may be the most common phrase uttered by barefoot runners. Pretty much any barefoot runner that’s run at least a few hundred miles immediately understands the meaning. It’s a confusing phrase to the uninitiated, though.

    What exactly DO we mean by “listen to your body?” And is this really good advice? Wouldn’t it be easier to teach running gait using words, pictures, or videos? Is “listen to your body” just crappy advice given by lazy teachers that don’t want to meddle in the science of running?

    As it turns out, “listening to your body” (LTYB) is advice that can be easily explained using one of my favorite topics- psychology! To continue reading, please visit: http://barefootrunninguniversity.com/2012/08/30/what-do-you-mean-listen-to-your-body/

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  2. Pes Planus Barefooters
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    Good Article. But I think that listening to your body works better if you have some experience running.

    What about sore calves ;)
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  3. Larry Barefooters
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    This had to be the most frustrating phrase I heard, because both of my big injury flare-ups over the past two years happened with no warning signs at all from 'my body', and they both pretty much stopped me in my tracks for months.

    I'm very much prepared to listen to my body, but it doesn't seem to want to talk. :) Or maybe, just maybe, I need to become a better listener? I'm sure my wife would happily answer that question.

    I'm led to believe the answer is "Weak calves" :), but in my case a more shuffling gait keeps the calves quiet.
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  4. Bare Lee Chapter Presidents
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    I'm with Larry here. My MCL-sprain came out of nowhere. And my year-long struggle with TOFP came from listening to my doctor telling me to listen to my body's metatarsals tell me that I had a stress reaction, when in fact my foot's tendons were telling me to listen to my tight shin muscles, a.k.a., "referred pain." I needed to listen to the referral and not the C.V. It's kind of like when politicians talk about policy, when in fact they're telling us to listen to their major campaign contributors. I think it's called "referred politics."

    Whenever my wife's body talks, I listen.

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  5. Zetti Barefooters
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    It think this is a valid point....and my ITBS also "came out of nowhere"....but I think part of this is how in-tune with our bodies we are. My bout with ITBS lasted 2-3ish months. I used to be a "push past/through the pain" kind of person, and this type of thinking could have dragged out my IT band issues substantially. Fortunately (yet still frustratingly) I was able to work through it relatively quickly and catch it relatively early.

    I don't think "listening to your body" will allow everyone to avoid all injury...or anyone to avoid all injury for that matter. It seems like a tool that is proportionally related to your connection with your body (have you trained your mind to ignore your body? Push through the pain? No pain no gain? etc?), are you new to athletics or running in general (running pains will be different than other sports).

    Listening to my body did not allow me to escape injury...and surly wont do so (at least not completely) in the future. However being in-tune with your body, understanding twinges and pains should allow you to catch issue more quickly and resolve them more completely.

    The biggest thing for me is to differentiate between those little pains (especially at the beginning of a run) and the first nagging of a bigger injury.

    I guess what I am saying is that I use my body as a coach...and I have not yet had a coach that helped me completely avoid injury or had always been "right" :D

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  6. Bare Lee Chapter Presidents
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    When I was first getting back into shape, my body told me to stop running after a block or two.

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  7. happysongbird Chapter Presidents
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    When I read this article, it brings to mind my journey learning to play the flute. At first (40 some years ago), I could just pick up a flute and have a great tone and learn beginning things easily compared to others who were also just starting out. But very soon, it became obvious that those who practiced effectively got best no matter what the natural ability. For the first few years, those drills and practice sessions took a great deal of mental effort. Still, if one decided to have fun doing it, it all seemed to flow better, with less tedium. Now, after many years playing regularly, I still have to try to remember some techniques in order to play my best, but I also find that there is more of a chance of intuitively fixing things with less effort. I do take lessons semi-regularly, too. I'm also fine tuning (excuse the pun) my playing in ways that wouldn't have been possible in the first few years, because so much of playing is subconscious brain-muscle connections. If I had to stop and think about fingerings all the time, for instance, there is no way I would be able to play some of those fast fun pieces or concentrate on dynamics to give the songs full character! That said, I'm always "listening to my playing," and making adjustments based on what I hear. Although it is sometimes faster than I can consciously keep track of, it is never mindless, and is always based on experience of what I've done before.

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  8. NickW Guest

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    Lee I would argue that you are learning how to listen to your body in the way at the first sign of a niggle in your IT band you are stopping and stretching immediately. You're also learning to make sure you do some pre-run routines to help your IT band. Sometimes things just happen, no matter how well you try to listen to your body. You and I Lee come from the no pain no gain mentality and it is hard for us I think to learn to listen to our bodies, but as you've said as you get older you are learning that you have to do certain things that you never would have thought to do in your younger days. That is a form of listening to your body. Now that I've said that and given you a little bit of crap, Go Vikes!
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  9. Zetti Barefooters
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    Took the words right out of my mouth....or letters right off my keyboard is more like it I guess.
    I would say that when getting back into shape you also have to re-learn how to listen to your body...Nowt hat doesn't mean stop at the first sign of pain...it means being able to distinguish between "oohhh Im sooooooo tired" and "Oh $h** my left foot just fell off" :eek:

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  10. Bare Lee Chapter Presidents
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    Totally agree Nick, I was just trying to be silly in the other comments. I tried to sum up my model of listening to your body in my original comments on Jason's blog. As you say, I've definitely learned to listen to the first sign of trouble, which, as you noted, wasn't always a sign of trouble when I was younger. With this idea of always warming up properly with both dynamic and static stretching, and stopping to stretch at the first sign of fatigue or strain, I feel incredibly hopeful for my running progress this year (fatal last words?). The problem is, without knowledge gained from frustrating experience, I wouldn't know what to listen for. So listening to your body does have its limits, as Zetti pointed out, until the proper experience has happened. It's like telling someone to ask for directions in a foreign country before they've had time to learn the language.

    Still, as Larry also noted, there is such a thing as pure happenstance, like my MCL-sprain; I didn't feel anything wrong leading up to it. Still-still, warming up properly, rather than waiting for my body to speak, might've prevented it. I guess that's like doing your chores before your parental body has to remind you with a spanking.

    And of course, during my frostnip mishap, my body was too unhappy to talk to me after the first half mile or so. You need to know when silence is a sign of trouble too I guess. Kind of a Quaker-sort of "let your words be few" listening to your body in this case, or maybe more like the good ol' silent treatment of an angry spouse.

    So with the listening to your body mandate, we must include at least these three subclauses:

    1. learn the language your body speaks;
    2. preemptively prevent your body from speaking when it has nothing good to say;
    3. listen to your body's deafening silences as well.

    Go Hawks!
    Go Vikes!

    Hope we meet in the Championship round.

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  11. NickW Guest

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    Maybe we shouldn't say "listen to your body" so much as "learn to understand your bodies cues."
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  12. NickW Guest

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    Too bad there's not a Rosetta Stone for learning to understand our bodies cues.
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  13. Zetti Barefooters
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    reminds me of some feedback from a survey...the individual said "you cannot listen to you heart. Your heart is a muscle, not an organ for detecting sound" o_O
    lol

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  14. Bare Lee Chapter Presidents
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    Or a Q-tip to clean out our ears so that we listen properly. I needed a certain amount of set-backs (= running q-tips) before the message got past the wax:
    an ounce of prevention (proper warm-up, slow build-up, time for recovery, and so on),
    is worth a pound of cure.

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  15. Zetti Barefooters
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    sounds like someone has been listening to their body :D

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  16. Bare Lee Chapter Presidents
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    It's kind of like a toddler, if you don't give them attention, they get miffed and start throwing things down the stairs.

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  17. NickW Guest

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    My son might just fall down the stairs because of something that he sees on the far wall distracting him, irresistibly calling him, and then him not seeing the stairs and toppling down.
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  18. Zetti Barefooters
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    and the Dynastic Duo....or treacherous trio (not quite sure) have successfully hijacked another thread!!!!
    hahahaha

    Forgot how much I miss you guys! :D

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  19. NickW Guest

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    I'm easily distracted too. Like father like son I guess... :D
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  20. Bare Lee Chapter Presidents
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    Thanks, we gotta go with our strengths--some of us write blogs, Nick and me are in our element hijacking.

    Distraction keeps me focused. I usually need to read four books at once to stay interested in any one of them.

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