Trying to Spot an Injury Before Getting Injured

It was a good thing I went for a sports massage today.  The masseur told me I had torn a muscle on my shoulder (an area closer to my neck) which healed, but the knot had split into two.  He said it was very peculiar.  I’ve had sports massage sessions with him for over a year and he’s never described my knots as “peculiar.”  I didn’t know whether to feel proud or worried.  The right shoulder, arm, and chest muscles are also very tight.  I felt a tiny needle pain in my chest when I inverted yesterday, and he thinks it’s because my chest muscles are beginning to compensate for the tightness on my shoulders.  This would explain why I’ve been having a weak grip: my muscles are not working together effectively.

Knots in the muscles? Not nice.

(Photo above from Rebecca Dongallo.)

I have a slight idea on how I tore my shoulder muscle even though I didn’t feel it when it happened: we were moving furniture around in the flat to make way for the desk in the bedroom and a sofa bed in the living room.  It was like playing tetris but in 3-D.  We have a small flat, so moving the desk into the bedroom meant we needed to move the dining table, the shoe cupboard, and a chest drawer out of the way before we could even start moving the desk.  We did this the next day after I came back to training from having a week off, and the heavy use of muscles probably aggravated the fatigue from the week-long workshop which I hadn’t completely recuperated from.  But it could also be from learning a new move with the rope resting on my right shoulder.  Maybe that’s where the split knot came from, hmmm.

But in general I feel ok.  I’ve had a worse injury before, which also took place after last year’s workshop.  I was learning a front balance to a hip lock on my right side, and I thought I needed to train my left arm strength in order to pull up.  It turned out I was crossing my legs the wrong way, and that’s why the rope kept slipping.  I was using my left forearm so much, that I developed this constant soreness and pain which stopped me from falling asleep at night.  I had to use ibuprofen gel to relieve the pain.  I was quite depressed because I was forced to take two weeks off at the start of term, and thought I could never do aerial again.

The two weeks off turned out to be a good decision, because coupled with rest and a few sports massage sessions the pain went away.  This was a very new experience for someone who has never associated herself with “sports injury.”  I’ve always liked sports but was never athletic, so the notion of “sports injury” was very alien to me until then.  When I started discussing this issue with an athletic friend who runs marathons, I felt I was venturing into unknown territory.  My friend V. said I should think of “injury prevention” rather than “I’m not injured.”

Since that injury, I’ve learned how to pace myself.   Sometimes it’s difficult to find the balance between pushing yourself and knowing the limits, because it’s tempting to go through that move just one more time.  What I try to keep in mind is if a move keeps evading me, it probably means I’m not using the right technique or I’m not strong enough yet.  I leave it out of training for a couple of sessions, then come back to it after coming up with a new way to approach it.



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