How to be Healthy
in training after injury,
sickness or surgery
We all think we know how to be healthy under normal circumstances. But what about returning to training after injury or an operation? How soon can you do tai chi forms? What about martial art moves or full speed swordfighting? Should you train while sick?
How to be Healthy in Training
Some of us don't know when our body is telling us it has had enough. I was one of those. I trained for four hours a day for my first two years. During that time, my body never stopped aching. I began training in my mid-forties and didn't seem to have any concept of having physically aged. I just ignored it all and kept on going. But rather than strengthening my body with all the training, I was weakening it. I gained flexibility and lost weight but I also tired muscles and ligaments until they injured easily. I did not know how to be healthy about my training.
If you are like that, it is fairly probable you'll be injured by over-training, then have to take time off to recover. Even if you are not over-training, you may have had an accident or illness that leads to the need for recovery time.
How much Recovery Time?
As a general rule, if you are sick, you should not train. Your body needs its energy to recover from the illness, operation, or injury. You should not be dispersing that energy by using it to train. Some people get impatient and think they are losing valuable training time. Well maybe you are but that isn't the most important consideration when you need to recover. I'm telling you how to be healthy but it's up to you how you choose to act on the advice.
If you have the instructions of a physiotherapist to follow, that's a good place to start. If you haven't, go by the indications of your own body. If you are in pain - don't train. Heal first. If you are weak, do a little, not a lot.
Of course, if you've been given a diagnosis that condemns you to bad health for the rest of your life, it doesn't really matter. Miracles happen. Also, doctors sometimes underestimate the sheer determination of the human spirit. I met Andrew in America. He was a martial artist. He was young. He had a serious accident and they told him he would be in a wheelchair for life. When I met him, a couple of years after the accident, he'd smashed the wheelchair and was using a stick to walk. He was still doing any parts of his martial arts forms he could manage.
Then Andrew decided to start walking without the stick. He was in pain. It was difficult, but he had refused to accept he'd never walk.
Read more of Andrew's story.
How to Train While Sick or Injured
If you can't physically do martial arts moves, full speed swordfighting or even tai chi forms, there are other ways to train while you wait to recover. Try some of these:
- Study the Taiji Classics
- Go over forms or kata in your mind
- Read back over everything your teacher has written or notes you have taken
- Practise qi circulation while sitting or lying down
- Write about what you have learnt in detail
- Stretch whichever parts aren't hurting
- Plan for the future or organise a seminar
- Play fighting moves in your mind and find ten counters for each
- Clean your swords
- Make a gambeson
This is how to be healthy in recovery. Don't push your body too soon. Find alternate means of training until you are strong and pain free.
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