Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Battered and Bruised

As I type this (my 50th post, BTW - whoo-hoo!), I've got ice on my Achilles (both of them), a neoprene sleeve on my right hamstring, a heat patch on my lower back and Tiger Balm on my achy left hip. Getting up to go to the kitchen or bathroom - both of which are upstairs from where I'm sitting - is an exercise in pain management. Just thinking about it makes me say "Ouch!"

In my life before karate - when my discipline was track and field and I spent many, many hours a day running in circles (OK, the track is oval shaped, but you get the point), doing plyometric drills, lifting ridiculous weights and jumping over things (my event was the high jump) - my body would cry uncle and tap out like this right before the end of the competitive season, which was around the end of July. For years, the only way I could get my body back on pointe for the next season was to take the month of August completely off - as in no running, lifting or jumping at all. My lungs sounded like a Mack truck when I returned, but my lower body injuries had time to heal, which gave me new wheels, so to speak.

Karate training is intense but in a very different way. I still lift weights and run, but not the same way as I used to when training for track. But still, it's training, which can be kinda rough on the body. Even with proper conditioning, break falls, spinning weapons and blocking/striking things with bare forearms and shins can take their toll over time. Resting the achy muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones is the one sure way to help keep things in good working order.

Yesterday, when I was prepping my body to get out of bed (seriously - I had to flex my ankles a few times to keep the Achilles from screaming at me in protest), I realized that the last time I'd taken more than four days off from training was in June - of 2007! - and that was because I had reconstructive surgery that forced me away from the dojo, treadmill, bike and weight room for almost six weeks.

These days, a month seems like an awfully long time to me. Those last six weeks away almost made me lose my mind! Trust me, had I been physically able to bend over, I probably would have waddled into the dojo with my stitches. I actually did go to class around week four, but I sat in a chair in the back - and it was worse than staying home. It's not a "no pain, no gain" thing at all; I just really hate missing the instruction.

But maybe my body is trying to tell me something.

Do you ever take time away to give your body a chance to rest and re-coup? How frequently? For How long at a stretch? Do you find it difficult to get back into the flow of things?


  1. Congratulation on your 50th post! I look forward to reading your next 50.

    Oh my Felicia! Ice, heat and tiger balm...all at once. I was off the dojo floor three months when I had my daughter and three months with my ACL. Even though I was back in three months, it took me over a year to be back to pre-ACL form. It was a long journey for me.

    Hope you feel better soon!

  2. And a good 50th post it is! :)

    Thank you for the blog, and sharing your training; as the lone female in my small dojo, it's helpful to hear the experiences of others, expecially women.

    As for taking time off, no. I practice every day. But then, I walked through a different door in karate. An academic, and a mommy, I came to kobudo/karate at 44 - just as things were starting to fall apart (arthritis). So, being in sorry shape, I've taken the slow road to wellness. I break a sweat, stretch my boundaried, but my goal is to make it to the end still practicing, strong and able.

    Every day.

  3. Thanks for the congrats/well-wishes, Michele & Narda. They mean a lot :-)

    I truly hate missing even one class, much less taking several off for healing purposes. But, since I'd like to be able to run around the yard with my grandkids instead of watching them from the front porch in my rocker (someday - my son's only 16, lol), I'm thinking sitting my booty down for a spell might not be a bad thing. The trouble I'm having is knowing when to say "when." In other words, are these just nagging, par-for-the-course injuries that I can safely train through or am I doing more harm than good by shaking it off and training despite the aches?

    BTW, the hamstring is better (no sleeve today!) and my Achilles are both feeling a bit less pained today as well. Left hip is cool, but I got a wicked cramp in my RIGHT hip flexor last night in class and it is of course sore today as a result. Sigh...

  4. It definitely seems like your body is trying to tell you something, Felicia.

    For me, my feet and my left knee are my barometers for how hard I should be training. If my feet start acting up, then I keep training, but try to ease up a little, particularly on things like the plyometrics. If my left knee gives me a serious warning signal, I take a week off - I will usually still go to class, but I'll observe rather than get on the floor. The last time I ignored a knee warning I ended up in a hard brace for six weeks.

    It's pretty rare for me to take time off completely, though. Mostly I'll work around (rather than through) aches and pains.

  5. How funny is it, Cindy, that my left knee and feet (via achilles tendons) are my barometers as well?!? The knee is the one I jumped off of for 20 years and it lets me know when it's had enough and I usually back off for a few days and wear a lite sleeve during class (long stances can be killer when your knee is rebelling). My achilles signal the need for new running shoes, but that's another story.

    I cannot go to class and observe at all. I end up getting fidgety then jumping in. If I am physically unable to participate, I've discovered that I hafta stay home less I get too "throw caution to the wind!" -like, which ain't good...

    Off to read your new post on breathing! Catch you later :-)

  6. Congrats on your 50th post!

    Personally I think it is essential to take short breaks from training occassionally - just to let all those little tweaks and strains heal. Missing one week really won't affect your long term training achievements.

    I usually use our annual holiday as the excuse to stop training for a week. I've just returned from this and did no physical training all week. My lower back pain, which was bothering me in the preceding 3 weeks, has disappeared and I feel ready to return to training. My mental training never stops by the way - I read the Bubishi whilst on holiday!

    My husband, whilst seeing some sense in what I say, continues to train all the time - he fitted in 3 runs and several kihon/kata sessions whilst we were away! Strangly he suffers more aches and pains than me :-)

    P.S the downside of not training for a week is that I have put on weight! However, I blame the overeating rather than the lack of exercise.

  7. As I get older, Sue, my big fear is that taking time away may make coming back that much tougher. I can't do the same things physically at age 43 that I could at 23, but that doesn't stop me from trying! I'm lying - much of it I still can do, but the recovery is a little longer for sure, and I have a feeling that will only be magnified as I continue to train - and age...

    Good for you for listening to your body! I think I'll do the same (penciling in a week off on the calendar right now - hee-hee).