I love martial arts. I love the challenge of learning new forms and new techniques. I love sparring. I love hitting bags and pads. I love escrima sticks and learning knife and gun disarms.Nothing ever engaged my mind, body and soul like martial arts. That’s why I’ve done them for over 35 years.
And that’s why I have a lot of the injuries I have.
Right after I bought Little Rock Taekwondo in 2000, I had ACL surgery on my knee. I’d gotten kicked in the side of the knee in class during a two on one sparring session. The kick guillotined my ACL and there was no option but to undergo surgery to repair it.
Honestly, the ACL surgery wasn’t all that bad. But during Physical Therapy I tore my quad. Neither the therapist nor the doctor believed me, so I kept on with the prescribed therapy. Then I started having leg spasms. Holy cow they hurt. Back to the doc, he still didn’t believe my self diagnosis. Long story, but I ended up changes doctors, getting the diagnosis that my quad was “unraveling” and wearing a full leg cast (in August) for a month to try to immobilize the muscle. That didn’t fix it and I was told it was going to take some time to heal.
It took over two years. After some acupuncture sessions with Martin Eisle of Evergreen Acupuncture, my leg got better and I could start training in martial arts again.
A couple of years later I went to the doctor to see if he could treat my torn groin muscle. Imagine my surprise when he informed me I needed total hip replacement. On both hips. But one was worse than the other so I elected to have the left hip replaced. I’ll have to get the right one replaced sometime but I’m not in any hurry.
The next year, shoulder surgery on the right shoulder. They will both need to be replaced at some time.
The quad injury still gives me more trouble than any of the other injuries. Apparently the scar tissue has shortened the muscle. The result is a lot of pain when I do squats or lunges, kicks or stretching.
I am not saying that martial arts are responsible for all of my aches and ailments. I am the first to admit that I am a Type A overachiever. The need for a challenge, the need to push myself, has been a huge factor in what I am dealing with now.
If I could go back twenty years and talk to a younger self, my advice would be to use some moderation in my training. I’m trying to take that self advice now.
The daily requirements when I did the UBBT in 2009 were:
2.5 miles cardio
4 rounds of sparring
4 repetitions of my pattern (Moon Moo for all you TKD readers)
Not only did I meet those minimums, but I would do parts of that workout three or four times a day when I was teaching classes.
When I tested for my 5th Dan in December of 2009 I was in great shape. But my body is still paying the price today.
So I’m doing Crossfit three to five days a week. The classes are only fifteen to thirty minutes long but we go full out for that length of time. A session or two on the Stairmaster that we have downstairs if I miss Crossfit. Yoga for an hour and a half two days a week. If I miss the class I do it at home. Hopefully I’ll be doing Krav Maga again twice a week if we can get the instructor to do classes during the day.
But here is the big difference. If we are supposed to do lateral jumps over a weight bar in Crossfit, I modify the technique and do the jumps with no obstacle. I don’t do the 400 meter runs, I jump rope. I don’t try to overload my shoulders with the heaviest weights I can stand, and I use a lighter kettle bell so that I can get the reps in.
In other words, I’m listening to my body. I know the difference now between a pain that is screaming “stop doing this” and discomfort because of working muscles.
Let me just say that I really don’t like yoga. The reasons why are another blog. But during a conversation with my sister Tracey last week I urged her to give yoga a try. And I told her not to roll her eyes (which I knew she was doing and she admitted it)
Yoga is a good balance for the hard and punishing workouts I do. It’s a good balance for the running that Tracey is doing. It’s complimentary to martial arts and just about anything else you might be doing. So find a yoga class, grit your teeth and do it. It’s good for you. And you will thank yourself 20 years from now.
Find your activity, whatever it is, and do it on a consistent basis. But don’t overdo it.
My ego, pride, competitive nature, whatever term you want to use, is what keeps me pushing to do one more rep, one more mile, or to hold a yoga position when my arms are shaking. I have to recognize that I can’t do what I once did, and concentrate on what I can accomplish rather than what I can’t do.
Wish I had figured this out twenty years ago.