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Old 06-22-2009, 05:40 AM   #18
Location: Massachusetts
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 3,181
Re: Training when you can't train (injured newbie)?

Whoa...two donkeys and a big pretty draft horse! I love draft horses. Around here it's mostly Belgians.

The thing about injuries and martial arts is, it's all really a process of learning to train with the body you have, rather than with the body you haven't. Injuries inflicted by training partners are nowhere near as common as the general public thinks, but self-inflicted "sports" type injuries are pretty much as common as they are in any vigorous activity -- maybe a little more so. Most newbies run up against the gap between what they'd like to do, even within the bounds of "beginner practice", and what their bodies will currently let them do. Some of this gap may be permanent, caused by old injuries, congenital issues, etc. Some of it may be temporary -- for instance, lack of core strength, aerobic fitness or flexibility -- but it is nevertheless real. I've known many people who sustained injuries as newbies because they tried to use strength or flexibility that they simply didn't have yet. In a few cases, these injuries became permanent, because having had their bodies tell them in no uncertain terms, "No, you're not strong/flexible/fit enough to do that yet," these people refused to hear the even more obvious message, "...and now that you're injured, you're really not strong/flexible/fit enough." They continued to try to train as if they had an ideal body, rather than the body they had. At the same time, I've seen people who came into the dojo with prior physical limitations and who were very successful, because they were already somewhat skilled in doing what they wanted to do with the bodies they had. They've already learned to be patient and to deal with setbacks.

Once upon a time (before my first martial arts injury) I believed that if you got a serious injury, you could go to the doctor, and the doctor would fix it. Now, every time I get injured, my attitude is, "This could be permanent." I do what I can to help it heal, but I accept that it could be there forever. This, in turn, eliminates the need to ask "how soon?" and that, in turn, takes the pressure off and lets my body do its thing. It's nothing provable, but I really feel like "healing anxiety" screws up the healing process...not to mention that it's pointless, much like screaming at a plant, "Grow, dammit!" So, thankfully, I've learned to let that go. I don't know if anyone learns that trick except via the hard way, which I don't recommend...but the trick is valuable, even though the price I paid for it is on the high side.
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