There are some pains that you want to push yourself through whenever you train or compete. Then there are some pains that you want to carefully listen to and back down from because they represent important information from your body telling you that, “You’re injured and need to stop!” When you push yourself through the first kind of discomfort, the pain and fatigue of oxygen debt from hard training, you get stronger and build endurance. When you try to push yourself through the second kind of pain because you want to be “tough” or don’t want to be a “wimp,” you risk further injury and the possibility that you’ll create a chronic, on-going problem for yourself.
Last week I was an idiot. I did not trust the wisdom of my body. I did not listen to the very clear messages that my body was sending me. Two weeks before I had tweaked a calf muscle playing tennis. Appropriately, immediately after I tweaked it, I stopped! Appropriately I took the next several days off from hard hitting. Appropriately I cancelled my normal competitive matches because I knew that the quick, unpredictable movements within a competitive match could possibly put me at risk. Because I listened to my body and backed off, my calf muscle improved. Soon I was feeling almost 100%.
Last Friday I played some competitive doubles. Midway through the first set that same leg began to tighten up. I tried to stretch it out during the match but it didn’t respond. The tightness remained and seemed to increase. instead of listening to what my body was telling me, I ignored the tightness and tried to “play through it.” Simply put, I failed to trust the wisdom of my body and, instead, was an idiot!
In essence, this is exactly what you are when you try to push through the pain of impending injury. Trying to “tough it out” is wicked stupid and that’s what I was! On the very next point I served, I came to the net for a volley, tried to change directions qucikly and pulled that same calf muscle. Needlessly to say I was not a happy camper!
Now I have to stay completely off of it for at least a week. I’m no longer limping, but I’m still pissed off at myself for ignoring the obvious. Trust the wisdom of your body. Don’t try to play through the pain of impending injury. Don’t mess with sharp pains and think that you can blindly push through them. Ignoring this second kind of pain doesn’t make you mentally tougher! If you’re unsure which kind of pain you’re dealing with, then get yourself checked out by a trainer or a doctor. Be smart about it. Sometimes being macho or tough and continuing to push yourself through discomfort is just simply being dumb!