How to take care of yourself when you’ve overdone it

Yesterday, I headed up a photoshoot for a body positivity project I’m launching in March (more on that next month).

I’ve had this shoot planned for weeks and knew it would involve holding some physically demanding poses, but I’m coming off a month long cold and a consequently a break from the gym, so I wasn’t terribly surprised when I managed to tweak my right neck and shoulder.

Advanced backbends without a proper warm up will do that.

For better or worse, I’ve injured myself enough times that I can tell when something is going to require a visit to the doctor and extensive time off. Thankfully this wasn’t one of those injuries, so before I went to bed, I did some gentle movement to mobilize my typically tight spots (upper back and ankles) and stabilize the areas that seem to always need a little extra attention (lower back and shoulders). Then I took a long shower and passed out.

Today, it’s about 50 percent better, but even as I type I can tell it’s going to need a little more time, so while I’ll be back in the gym this afternoon, I won’t be doing anything upper body intensive until it feels normal and I’ll continue to monitor it for the next week or two.

I share this, because this is the type of incident that can be of minimal consequence if you’re thoughtful or turn into a long frustrating recovery process if you try to power through it…and if you’re anything like me, you’re not very good at taking breaks.

So, you probably have already figured out the punchline, but what should you do when you overdo it?

Step 1: Rest.

Seriously, I have no idea why it is soooooooo hard to slow down, but when you’re run down physically or emotionally, the best thing you can do for yourself is to rest.

Often after a day or two you’ll feel better and if you don’t, you’ll usually have created enough mental space to figure out what to do next.

Step 2: Incorporate gentle, pain free movement.

Not moving can leave us feeling stiff and achy, so while I wouldn’t suggest going to a HIIT class, doing some gentle stability and mobility exercises can reduce the discomfort induced by sitting + clear any mental chatter from siting still for too long without aggravating things more.

The caveat to this is of course if a doctor has told you not to do this or if you suspect you’ve really hurt something. In that case, return to step one and use that rest time to visit your doctor.

Step 3: Rinse and repeat until you feel like a normal human again.

Then ease back into your regular routine.

Common sense?

Possibly, but I have learned am still learning that the best way to get over feeling physically or emotionally run down is to take the time to recharge – even though it’s inconvenient and you won’t always want to.

Listening to your body and being kind to yourself will take you so much further in the long run.

And if you need a little inspiration for movement that feels good, I’ve made a short video using a Pilates ball (any small fitness ball like a slomo or bender ball will work) with some of my favorite exercises for increasing mobility and decreasing stiffness.

Pilates ball exercises for less back stiffness

Pilates ball exercises for less back stiffness

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