The mind is a powerful tool, but pit the mind and the body against each other and often the body will win in time. When you’re taking a fitness class, going for a run, a walk or doing anything physical, you need to check-in and listen to your body.

Top: Neck Happy Middle & Bottom: Neck Sad & Straining

Top: Neck Happy/ Middle & Bottom: Neck Sad

If you feel pain, you must pay attention and adjust what you’re doing. I teach Pilates classes every day and I see people working through bad pain.  It’s not a muscle being challenged pain.  I can see their neck straining or their back straining.  I can say “If your neck hurts lower your head,” but sometimes people keep their head up.

It’s not that people are ignoring me (I hope). Sometimes people aren’t checking in and don’t really notice it hurts right away.  Other times people are trying to push through.  We so believe in the “no pain to gain” mentality that we are at times willing to work through the wrong kind of pain.  There is no need to push through neck pain or back pain.  In time, the body is just going to hurt so much that pushing through won’t be an option.  You can’t beat it by forcing it.  You’ve got to listen and make an adjustment.  Your body will thank you for it.  The exercise will actually get easier and you’ll end up being able to do harder exercises.  You’ll build; you’ll grow.

You can’t fight the body. If your neck hurts when you’re doing ab work, your abs are screaming for help and your neck is trying to help, but can’t do the work of the abs.  So you’ll never get stronger abs, just a sore neck.  The same goes for the back.  If you are doing ab work and your feel your back, it’s trying to help but it can’t and shouldn’t.  You need to scale back and make sure the work is coming from your abs.  Learning this can take time, but will help you build to more and more challenging exercises.

Fight the body and you’ll set yourself back and live in pain. Listen to the body, work with the body and your progress and advance.  You may not always be pain free, but you’ll learn to work with around and through pain properly.