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Skinny Without Willpower

Saturday, August 1, 2009


Injuries are a part of any sport. Some can be completely debilitating while others can set you back a few months or years. And when I am talking injuries I don’t mean the ones that happen when an opponent bites away part of your ear. These are the ones that happen due to carelessness or improper technique or because you pushed your body beyond its mechanical abilities.

One of these injuries happened to me three weeks ago while squatting with 315 lbs on my back. And then again, 10 days later doing CrossFit. And then yet again the very next day doing CrossFit (duh!). Each time with greater severity and excruciating pain. Finally the doctor diagnosed a torn muscle in my lower back and asked me to lay off any kind of exercise for the next 3-4 weeks. So what caused this injury? And what did I learn from it? The cause is easy: being too tired I compromised my form resulting in the injury. Now on to the learning part.

First thing I learnt is to listen to my body. I had 5 hrs of sleep the night before and I was supposed to do 10 sets of 3 repetitions with 315 lb squats. My body was telling me to skip the workout but my mind was so motivated that I decided to do it anyways. On the 9th set my lower back just gave up in the bottom position with a sharp pain. I cursed myself and decided to give it a week’s rest thinking it was ordinary muscle stress (which it probably was at that point). So I said to myself that I should have listened to my body and stayed home. Motivation, I thought, was overrated and one should always listen to one’s body.

Secondly, I learnt that patience is a virtue. After 10 days of rest I decided that since the pain was almost gone the muscle must have rehabilitated and must be ready for more pounding, but boy was I wrong! I started CrossFit and the first workout involved kettlebell (KB) swings from the ground up to overhead position. I was supposed to do 150 repetitions with 35 lbs (sounds light but try doing it for that many reps) with a 5 sit-up break every one minute. I did quite well until the 133rd rep when I felt the familiar sharp pain in the lower back with even greater intensity. Again I cursed and kicked myself (I wish was flexible enough to kick myself) and walked out. Took some ibuprofen and applied ice packs the rest of the afternoon and was feeling quite alright in the evening. Again I dismissed it as muscle stress from repetitive motion of the KB swings. After all I was a big man with a big ego and how could a small KB hurt me. Squatting with 315 lbs was another thing but this little KB? Aw c’mon my ego was way too big to acknowledge any injury from a puny KB. So the very next day I did another CrossFit workout and within the first 3 reps of deadlifting my lower back gave in and this time the pain was excruciating enough to make me scream like a little girl (good thing I was at home and not at the gym) and limp along to the doctor’s office.

This brings me to the most important lesson I learnt from all this pain and agony: train with your body and not with your ego. Before this incident I really thought that I was indestructible. As long as I kept training harder and harder and followed it with good nutrition my body would get stronger and stronger and there would be no chance for injury but somewhere along the line I lost touch with my body and started training with my ego. The heavier I lifted the bigger my ego got until one day my body gave in.

So the moral in all of this? Listen to your body, have patience and above all don’t let your ego get bigger than your mind and body. Injury can be a very humbling experience, so while I am rehabilitating my lower back staying out of the gym, I think I am getting wise and fat!

1 comment:

  1. Good explantation and moral for everyone. Rajesh