I had a rough spill a few days ago - entirely preventable. I had been admiring the huge, rough, romantic waves on the beach here in Provo and underestimated their force. I was ok getting in the water but was trapped in a huge wave getting out and essentially put in a spin cycle with some rocks. Again, I should have known better. Thankfully, I emerged with just a few scratches and bruises, but awoke two days later achey all over and tired all day. This phenomena reminded me of a time I once went down a flight of marble stairs on my butt, and I've heard similar complaints from friends and students, so I felt it merited some research.*
This is called delayed onset muscle soreness. It is a result of us instinctively and protectively contracting our muscles at the moment of injury and overall soreness (beyond localized injuries) is due to the toll this exertion takes on both our musculoskeletal and nervous systems and also on our brains and our bodies being flooded with stress hormones. Not only are a plethora of muscles recovering from this violent spasm, but the system also has to cope with redressing this chemical imbalance.
This morning I felt tired, but I was ok teaching - probably being absorbed in other people's issues distracted me. But I was intending to do an afternoon Pilates session and found I could do little more than lie on the machine. My regular run was out of the question. I could have pushed myself to swim, but a night in felt more like what my body and nervous system needed. After a physical trauma, tuning in and relieving physical tension is paramount. Of course, it's ideal to be as active as possible, but if your body is extra achey, give it some TLC. Probably for many of you, this is a no brainer. But it's taken me some time to be this kind to my body and I feel extra justified in it knowing the science behind why. May it be of benefit to you as well.
*Waking the Tiger: Healing From Trauma. Levine, Peter. 1997.
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