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?