Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Agony of the Feet

And the ankles. And the hamstrings. And the groin muscle I pulled last night while sparring. Agh. I'm starting to feel like I should create a graphic for this blog that shows, on a daily basis, "What hurts today." Because I'm beginning to realize that, unless something significant changes, I'm just going to have to get used to being in some amount of pain or some state of injury on an ongoing and persistent basis if I am going to continue training so aggressively.

Now, since I have absolutely no plans to stop training, or even to lessen the time and energy I put into training, the only option seems to be to just get used to being hurt. All the damn time.

So yeah, here's the litany of injuries I've dealt with over the past 8-9 months of training:
  • Really, really sore hip flexors for the first two weeks of training (never really worked those muscles before)
  • Extremely tight and painful muscle spasm in upper back and neck for the first month I trained (mostly stress-related, I think)
  • Nasty pulled left leg hamstring just 2 weeks prior to my 8th gup test (lots of pain, rest, ice, compression, elevation, and beer got me through that one)
  • Pretty damn painful ankle twist the night before my 7th gup test (swelling, weakness, and pain persisted for nearly a month)
  • Strained inside-left thigh/groin muscle 3 weeks ago (bit too aggressive on partner stretching -- 2+ weeks before it started feeling better)
  • Strained inside-right thigh/groin muscle last night (while throwing a high kick during free sparring)
So, let's look at the data and see what's what here. The good news is all of these are actually fairly minor injuries: Nothing permanent or debilitating, nothing that a little rest and care can't fix. The ankle, in particular, was lucky -- that could have been nasty, could easily have been a break instead of a bad sprain/strain. I also find it interesting the way the injuries are migrating -- I think the locations indicate something about my progress. Particularly those groin pulls -- they wouldn't be happening if I wasn't kicking higher and stretching deeper than ever before. I just need to dial back the activity and strain on them a bit and they'll settle down by the end of the month. And really the only recent injury that was caused by an error on my part was the ankle twist, which obviously can happen to anyone at all. Weight landed exactly the wrong way an wham-o, twisty twist.

So, I think that's actually something to be positive about. The pain doesn't bother me so much as the worry that somehow I'm simply not cut out for this level of demanding physicality. I mean, aside from the pain I feel great. And I think my progress and persistence demonstrates that I am certainly capable of seeing this through, physically. And really the pain isn't really that bad -- it's more discouraging than anything else. I hate holding myself back during training, being careful to not kick to high or too hard. I hate sitting back and watching people spar rather than getting out there and mixing things up a bit.

Which leads to something Sa Bom Nim said last night, and once again to the realization that I've got a long way to go. Aside from the ankle twist, every single one of my injuries was directly attributable to my ongoing issues with Shin Chook, with my inability to just freakin' RELAX already. I have so much fun training, but typically I'm wound up like a freakin' spring for the first half of class at least. I walk in there stressed out and slowly, over the course of the class I start to relax, some nights more than others. But I also punch hard, kick hard, stretch hard, all that crap, while my body is tight and unyielding.

Gee, wonder why I'm getting all this soft-tissue pain and strain? Duh.

I just wish I could figure Shin Chook out. That it was just one of those switches that I could flip and suddenly, whammo, relaxed and at ease. I think I've made a lot of progress, but obviously I have a long way to go on it as well. I'm so worried and stressed about messing up techniques that I find challenging that I ramrod my way through them, hard and stiff and inflexible and tight the whole way. It drives me nuts some days, the knowledge that as much as I love and enjoy Tang Soo Do training, I'm making it harder for myself than it needs to be and that I'd enjoy it even more if I could just Stop Stressing Out So Much.

If only knowing this was the same as doing this.

Mood: Vaguely annoyed
Now Playing: Blur, "Parklife"

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