Part 1, pain signals while moving, was about adaptations your body has already made. Part 2, pain signals while sitting, was about adaptations your body is currently making. Your body’s feedback systems are always active. In Part 3 of this 4-part series, we explore early cries for help: how to spot problems when you wake up in the morning.
Instead of Snoozing…
For most of us, when our alarm chirps, rolling over for the phone and smashing the snooze button is our first explosive movement of the day. You may not notice many signals in those turbulent seconds. (Your desire to slap the snooze button is actually a signal that you did not get enough restful sleep…) Instead of ten minutes of unsatisfying dozing between chirps, use that time to scan your system. Think of this morning movement like checking your tire pressure and car exterior before a road trip.
…Scan Your System
Start at your toes and work up to your head.
Lower Body Checks
- Spread and squeeze your toes five times
- Point and flex your ankles
- Move your feet in circles, clockwise and counterclockwise
- Bend both knees, then spread and close your thighs
- Twist both knees right and left
Upper Body Checks
- Spread and squeeze your fingers five times
- Move your hands in circles, clockwise and counterclockwise
- Bend one elbow at a time
- Spread and close your arms
- Slowly roll your head left and right
Reading the Signs
If you had a hard practice the previous evening, you will notice tension in your calves and thighs. If you had a quality speed session, you might find swelling in your inner thighs and hip flexors. If you had an hour of focused throwing, you may sense fatigue in your stomach, and shoulders.
But twinges in your low back or cramp-like tension in your shoulders are your first signals that something isn’t right. If you notice popping in your wrists or ankles during the circles, honor those warning signs. Your body is hinting at problems down the road before you get hurt.
Soreness is a dull ache in the belly of your muscles. Fatigue feels like some body parts are just moving slowly. A little muscle swelling or stiffness are normal responses to hard training.
Accept the Feedback
Signals of trouble brewing are joint stiffness, sharp pain, or popping and clicking while moving. If you catch those signals early, you can identify gaps and excesses in your training, adjust your self-care routine, or take an extra day of rest. If you ignore your body’s “yellow lights” instead of making mental notes and taking action, you know what you have coming.
Your body craves movement. Its feedback systems use movement — and any restrictions during it — to inform you about potential problems. Start your day with movement so you get a snapshot of how things are running.
Could you put that snooze button to better use?
Next week, to conclude this series, we’ll explore self-care techniques and movement routines you can use on your rest days to keep your body humming along happily.