Listening to Pain
In addition to recognizing your body should not be harboring pain, you should listen intently and react quickly to the pain you feel. Throw out the phrase "no pain no gain", and the idea of "powering through" a workout or exercise. You only get one body; do not screw it up with short-term thinking! If you knew could only have one car for the rest of your life, would you be a more careful driver? I am surprised when I see people beating on their bodies when they are clearly feeling pain.
I am not saying you should never feel any pain, just that if you continue to have pain doing an activity, you need to change the way you are going about it. For all but a professional athlete, this should be easy advice to follow. Look at what you are doing and what hurts and try to figure out what is going on. Take it easy. Slowly build up your workload. Work complimentary muscles to help support problematic areas. Look for problems in your form, posture, and technique. But, for the sake of your one and only body that you were given in this life, do not keep doing what you are doing!
Recently, I have been biking to work almost every day. It is a 6.5 mile bike ride each way. I noticed that my knees were starting to hurt. I took many corrective actions. First, I immediately decreased my cycling intensity so the pain subsided. Second, I mobilized the tissues surrounding the knee joint and continued to strengthen my hip muscles. Third, I researched bike posture and fitting to see if I had a problem. I found that bike seat was too low and this was putting additional pressure on my knees because I was not going through a complete-enough range of motion in my knee. Increasing my saddle height has reduced my knee pain significantly, and I have been able to pedal harder than before too!
If you keep riding into your pains and aches without regard for them, you will find yourself at a surgeons office. After surgery, you will probably never be able to reach your peak functioning again. Preventing injuries before they become serious requires building up the habit of listening to your body. You never know when a slight twinge can develop into a trigger point or muscle tear. You do not need to be paranoid but at the same time do not be blind when an injury is brewing in your body.