Thursday, January 29, 2015

There's no such word as CAN'T in the gym....

Thinking about pain, physical therapy, surgery recovery, pain... again - it's hard not to think about it when you feel it 24/7, screaming at you above everything else; stealing your concentration and attention away from something thought ought to be infinitely more interesting and therefore effortlessly hold your focus; but the screaming from your body just never takes a break.  So….. I have been reading about pain; pain tolerance; pain threshold; pain scales.  Trying to learn about pain, and realising that as a chronic pain sufferer, I probably know just about as much as researchers know; from a different perspective, perhaps, but the point is I did not find any groundbreaking, life-saving solution to any of my problems.  Even trying to figure out what I should be doing - at what point is it good to push my body, but still let it heal? - doesn't have a simple answer.  So if nobody can tell me, how do I figure that out?  And how do I figure that out?

Finding the limit is the problem now...

 I'm genuinely beginning to think gymnastics - especially from a young age -  makes your brain form differently.  This is suspected (supported by a few studies) regarding learning a musical instrument; and research into bilingualism shows language learning definitely affects neural development.  I suspect starting gymnastics at a young age is a bit like learning a language.  If you learn a language before the age of ~7 years, your brain learns it as a first language - neural connections are formed differently.  I learned the language of gymnastics well before the age of 7.  Despite the fact I haven't trained or competed for 14 years in gymnastics, or 10 years in trampolining, those things don't leave you….. No matter how much you try!
(Typo not mine!)

The language of gymnastics [abbreviated]:

"There's no such word as can't in the gym"

"If you think you can't, you won't"

"Always end on a good one"

And things like this make perfect sense:

*"you're in the air"
Typo not mine... again!

Because that is how you get results: 

My last British Trios Finals 2001
(before I broke another bone & had to quit)

But now…...

"There's no such word as can't in the gym"

To physio:

"Yes, you can push my arm as far as you want... did I tell you my gum is bleeding because I'm biting on it?  Just saying…"

"Yes, I can do this - I can still see in front of me, it's only black behind me, so I'm fine."

"If you think you can't, you won't"

To physio:

"Yes, this is ok....... should I be feeling sick though?"

"Yes, it's going - how sore should it get before I stop you? It's beginning to sparkle now…"

"Always end on a good one"

To physio:

[Eyes closed, sweat dripping off me, breathing increased, heart booming, room spinning]: "But I didn't do the full set... I'm not finished...*Will this actually do more damage...? No? OK. Finish then."

*(Um, yeah I confess to doing this one on Wednesday - yesterday.  It was 'only' two more reps... out of a total of 5.... for a muscle that hasn't really worked that way for 43 months. I slept in the car on the way home.)

[Ditto]: "But that last one was terrible..... I'll just do one more." [Collapse on floor]

So apparently I have 'syncope without loss of consciousness' - that means fainting without actually appearing to faint.  This adds to the confusion - have I fainted?  Or not?


Physios do not count any of those as "cans". (Sometimes they shout at you, actually.  Nicely.)  'Trying' when it is sparkling or black behind you or you are seeing black dots; you can taste vomit, or blood; you are dripping with sweat after lifting (holding, really) a ONE pound weight; you can only do it if you close your eyes……..  do not count as 'trying' either.  They are generally regarded as doing too much and produce orders like "Stop. Now." or "Lie down….. Lie down NOW." or shouted to their interns - "get me a chair!"  and "get me water!"

In the gym, bleeding gums, spinning heads and feeling sick may be the norm; recovering from an injury is not the same as gymnastics. (Mantra: repeat ad infinitum.) 

Second Lesson 

[doctor/ physio attempting to enter my head]:

"If you worked really hard at training one day, you would take a rest day the next day.  This is like that."

"It's like anything: work a day, rest a day, work a day, rest a day…."

"If you were sore after training one night, you would take the next night off, wouldn't you?"

Umm……. I'm really trying, and I know what you're saying here…….. but I don't understand………..

Yup.  I think gymnastics skews your perspective on life.  It means we learn young how to work hard, develop great time management skills*; we are trained to demand perfection from ourselves - on top of a natural instinct; to never give up (and in our heads, we still think our bodies have the capabilities it had when we were teenagers).  Getting injured (severely) is not a good idea.  Physios and doctors - you will probably hate any ex-gymnast patients you have! (Also because we also know exactly how we like our ankle/ wrist/ knee/ elbow wrapped; what tape we want to use, and exactly where we want it...)

*Yes Mum, I know this does not apply to me right now....... I have good reasons! And I really do try!

Just for fun.... things that are not really 'normal' (apparently):

(All from:

I'd kind of forgotten about this, but it didn't strike me as
abnormal until I read this on Pinterest.  Last year!

As do gymnasts!

I didn't realise this was weird until the first time we did a group project
at uni and everyone was kind of staring...

It's incredibly difficult to resist this.  Still.

This is not normal? I still don't understand.... it's natural!

A little nostalgia:

Yeah, see below!

What a feeling........!
(Yes, that's me.)
 And too true:

However, I also think - a little bit of that stubborn determination built in may just feel like it's saving you sometimes.

‘The greater danger for most of us is
not that our aim is too high and we miss it,
but that it is too low and we reach it.’

~ Michelangelo  ~

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