Training Damages and Injuries

Left knee-joint from behind, showing interior ...

Left knee-joint from behind, showing interior ligaments. (Lateral meniscus and medial meniscus are cartilage.) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I skipped training for the last couple of days. 

Sometimes I’m lazy.  Sometimes I forget that rest and recuperation are part of a smart training regimen.

Sometimes I don’t want to do 25 repetitions of slow 4 count slow sidekicks and much less 6 count reps, then move on to the other kicks.    Sometimes my muscles ache from having done them the day before.  It’s a little damage for a good cause.  But I’ll take a break from that and be back to it in little time.  Exercise does do a little bit of damage to the body, but there’s a mechanism whereby that physical damage done intelligently, is a prelude to an improved regeneration.  We know this because others have successfully used the process before.

Bodybuilders strain their muscles in order to tear certain fibers that with proper nurturing will cause them to become bigger and stronger.  Other athletes stretch their muscles and ligaments in order to exceed average performance.  Those repetitions I strain through make my kicking skills and abilities better than the average, and maybe better than some others who do it less. That’s their value.

These are limited damages and injuries.  But we can’t be ignorant about extended damages and permanent injuries.  Bill Wallace a famed Karate superstar known for his extreme flexibility and kicking prowess once said something like “everyone wants to get into a split, that’s no problem, I can put you in a split, you just may not be able to walk for six months.”

Done unintelligently in our training we can do lasting damage and even irreversible injury to ourselves, in pursuit of our martial arts skills and abilities.  Worse yet, someone else can do it to us, like the novice instructor who insists that you do a bridge exercise without knowing if you have spinal or back issues just cause he can, or wants you to do hard lock out roundhouse kicks without knowing the particulars of the knee joint, or about your particular knee issues.

I’d argue that pursuit of a 180 degree split in order to do a skyscraper side kick, is not worth being out of work for six months because you’re bedridden from a severe hamstring tear.  Old school karateka, would do damage to their hands in order to have desensitized, deformed calcified, rock hard fists.  Practically none of these were brain surgeons or concert pianists.

With youth, you can recover more quickly from limited damages and injuries, especially if done in an intelligent, progressive sort of manner.  With aging and maturity you do not recover as quickly, even with intense mind over matter hoodoo.  That means that the degree of limited damage you are subjected to, or subject yourself to, should be a lot more gradual and progressive.

 Another thing is that the extent to which you want to improve performance may not be obtainable.  You may have severe arthritis, which hinders the use of your joints, or you may have scar tissue that cannot regenerate, going from zero to 180 degree split in a short time may be done, but at the greater cost of irreparable damage.  Do you want to have to use a cane for no other reason that going for a split?

For professional athletes, the rise in performance equals greater income, even if shortened careers, and extended damages and injuries are a trade off they are willing to make.  For military and law enforcement personnel the difference in performance can mean the difference between life and death.  For average martial arts practitioners with aspirations beyond sports specific goals, like growing in professional careers or keeping a job, raising a family, or serving the public, extended damage and injuries become a life setback.

I skipped training for the last couple of days.  I’ve been training reasonably hard: strength, cardio, bagwork, sparring, kata, stickwork, hitting the tires, and flexibility.  Yes, I’ve been putting in the time and work, not many men my age go as fast and hard as I do in all these areas.  But, I have longstanding damage to a body part, and know there’s a point of irreversible damage to it.  I have to be mindful of stopping short of that, in spite of my own “I CAN DO ANYTIHNG” mindset.  “OOPS!” does not heal anything. 

So, I took a couple of days off, and when I do I feel bad about it.  I read, I study, I write, work around the house and do other things, I’m not idle.  But, I feel guilty, like all the work I’ve put in my whole life will have gone to waste if I miss a day of training.  But that’s not true, and my goals are different.  I don’t train and exercise for sports specific, or military goals.  I do it as a part of my holistic personal development, and no part of that development should damage any other.

I’ll get back to it all tomorrow, and within a week expect to be back at my chosen level, possibly exceed it.  These days I try to be guided by knowledge and wisdom, rather than by testosterone and bravery, though there’s times for that too 🙂


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