By Nadine Currie Jackson
One of Nadine's sore feet after a week at Skate Farm.
You've heard it before, but it's worth repeating: Pain is your friend, a message from your body that something is wrong ... the pan is too hot ... the bee is angry ... there's a blister on your toe.
It's also a regular — although fortunately not constant — companion of athletes and fitness enthusiasts, skaters included.
It's there when we push ourselves hard during a workout; it's there when we fall or otherwise injure ourselves.
Naturally, we don't think much about pain, except how to avoid it. But the truth is if you learn to listen to pain, it will visit you less often.
How to listen
Think of the way your legs burn when you charge up a hill. The pain is caused by a buildup of lactic acid and other glycogen waste products in your muscles. It's normal, and it usually subsides once you reach the top of the hill or otherwise decrease your level of exertion.
The question is: how should you react to this pain? In and of itself, it won't kill you. But as you may have noticed, it usually makes a mess of your technique — not to mention, your perceptual skills and judgment. And that, of course, is a recipe for disaster. When you start skating sloppy, you're headed for a fall.
There may be times, such as at the end of a race, when you'll want to push yourself through the pain. But be aware of the risk this poses to you and the people around you.
At other times, it just doesn't make sense to push too hard. If you're doing a workout out, use restraint. Don't push so hard that your technique and perceptions fall apart. It's not worth the risk of injury that could suspend your training for days or weeks.
Rather than pushing beyond your limits, design a training program that will stretch them. If you stick with your program, the next time you hit the proverbial wall you'll be a lot higher up that proverbial hill.
Nov. 20, 2009
Nadine Currie Jackson has been a researcher and educator at the college and university level and a clinical massage therapist since 1996. She has helped a wide variety of athletes over her career. Nadine was a short track speed skater and won several medals at national and north american events and is now hopelessly obsessed with inline speed skating.
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