Listening to your body

We’ve all been there, a tight calf or an achy hip or a cough or/and a cold yet our main focus is to keep on training and carry on regardless after all, we’re tough guys who don’t quit and the problem will go away by itself, right? Did you know that by listening to your body, you’ll recover quicker and progress much further than you will do if you battle through? 

If you’re laid down with an injury or illness, your body is trying to recover and there can often be uncertainty as to what the correct thing is to do. If we ask on social media, we can be bombarded with memes and advice to carry on regardless, hear of people who fought on, still did their workout or competed in a race despite having a particular injury or illness and there can be a fear of being perceived as weak if we stop.

Of course, much of what we read online is nonsense and often full of bravado. It’s how we like to see ourselves or be seen by others. 

What is the right thing to do?

  1. Rest

    The rule of thumb is that if you’ve got a cold and it’s in your head then you’re fine to train but if it’s in your chest, or getting there, then rest. If you’re clearly not 100% then I believe the quickest route to recovery is to have complete rest, eat well, sleep well, keep hydrated and you will recover in a few days in the case of the typical bug. Continuing to exercise will prolong your recovery and be more likely to demotivate you if you struggle to do what you normally feel quite easy in a workout.

  2. Seek Professional Help

    If it’s a bug or virus and the symptoms are getting worse or haven’t improved within a few days then go see your GP. If its a constant niggle or an injury that is causing you some pain, then go see a Physiotherapist. It’s essential to get a proper diagnosis so you know what the problem is and the best way to treat it.

    Asking social media or Googling your symptoms is seldom a good idea. Your cough may match the symptoms of the plague and your niggle/injury sounds exactly like what someone else (or their neighbour’s cousin’s workmate) had and they treated it by doing x. Everyone’s symptoms can be different and by following random suggestions without that person seeing it, or being qualified in any way, can result in the injury taking longer to heal or cause further issues.

  3. Active Rest

    Depending on what your actual problem is, you can potentially speed up your recovery by doing some form of activity. If you’ve got a head cold then either you can keep on training or do some lighter intensity training to keep you going. Likewise, if you have a niggle or an injury, you may be able to do lighter intensity, non-impact or alternative training so you can maintain your fitness and not have an adverse effect on the issue. In these cases, the professional you see will be able to guide you.

In cases such as muscles or your Ilio-tibial band feeling tight, I usually find that by working on the mobility of the nearest joints can have a massive effect on resolving the problem without going down the road of using tape or foam rollers.


If you’re unwell or carrying a niggle or injury, listen to your body (not your head) and go with what it’s telling you to do. You will know if it wants to do some form of exercise or to have complete rest. If you’re not sure and try a run or a workout, your body will soon let you know if it’s a good idea or not.

It won’t let you down.

Do you listen to your body when you have an illness or injury? What experiences have you had?