Published: Spring 2004
Injuries are exciting! You never expected that did you? I've had my share of injuries, a list that could nearly exceed my tricking arsenal: Embarrassing. The truth is each time I injure myself I learn something new; With this new knowledge I am able to handle each future injury better than the previous ones. So if we do a little math *thinking to myself*, I should be dead! Oh wait... Heh! We'll start by going over the types of injuries we will be discussing in this channel.
There are hundreds of different injuries and sub-categories of injuries you can sustain through tricking. Bruises, scrapes, sprains, breaks, tears, burns, and blasts to name a few. For the sake of my sanity and yours we're going to subdivide it into two categories: Serious and not serious. We will be covering serious injuries of two categories: Trauma induced and chronically developed injuries.
Trauma would be tearing your knee ligaments on a sideswipe crash (Ouch - Chris Devera!). Chronically developed problems start small and creep up on you. An example might be a slight annoyance in your ankle which overtime develops into a crushing pain. If you ignore these small pains for too long they can develop into major problems.
You must take up one of two positions when managing injuries: Prevention or recovery. So you can have one of two statuses: Injured or not injured. In this article I'll be explaining to you what goes into preventing an injury and the process of recovery.
Preventing an injury is realistically more difficult than recovering from one. If you prevent an injury you will never have to recover! That's hard science right there.
Preventing a tricking injury is like gambling. There is always a level of risk but that level can vary depending on what you are preparing to chance. This level of risk isn't directly related to a single choice, it's jointly related between a combination of circumstances. To better explain what I mean: The fact that you broke your shin isn't only related to the fact you crashed a backflip. It's also related to the fact you did it off the balcony of dude's third story apartment into a cluster of rosebush's on a rainy evening. Hell you weren't even attempting a backflip, you were pushed off!
This whole situation could have been avoided by one action, not showing up to a party as an uninvited guest. In whole a tricking injury can be avoided simply by not tricking. So the simple conclusion that everybody already realizes comes to draw : Tricking injuries are self inflicted. So we call this game acrobatic gambling. The payoff is acrobatic beauty, the risk is... ummm... Not acrobatic beauty.
Just as gambling with money the stakes become greater as you progress. A trickster with a larger arsenal risks more than a trickster who is only capable of a couple moves. Yet their is something to say about the chance of risk. Once you learn the basics, you move onto the more advanced moves which are only variations of the more basics tricks. The stakes rise, but the risk can be kept under control if you apply common sense and maybe eat lots of honey.
So how do we prevent tricking injuries?
I wish it was that simple. Unfortunately this question is too vague and nothing can completely prevent an injury from tricking unless you quit tricking. A better question is -
How do we increase the chance of preventing a tricking injury?"
How do we reduce the risks involved in tricking?
First, we'll discuss how to prevent a chronically developed injury. These are
the easiest to prevent, all you have to do is listen to your body and give it
a rest. I've mentioned previously in this article about a hip flexor irritation
which developed into a major problem. For myself, this happened February 2004.
I first noticed it as a click in my hip. As time progressed it became a louder
and more noticeable click. Finally, it became a painful click, then just a hideous
pain. I couldn't do any kicking tricks! I cycled between the five stages of
adjustment to an injury several times before I finally made a decision, no tricking
for the entire month of February! At the end of the month I felt a bit rusty
but started seeing drastic improvement at the end of the first week. This all
could have been prevented if I had listened to my body sooner. I might have
only needed two weeks off instead of the entire month if I hadn't let it turn
into something nasty. So the answer for chronically developed injuries is:
deny the pain exists and stop early before it becomes much worse.
Now I'm going to list some methods to exercise that will help you prevent trauma related injuries. Most trauma related injuries occur when working on new techniques or when a freak accident occurs. I would not consider trying an aerial off your roof a freak accident though, that's your on stupidity if you break yourself through something of that nature.
Don't try a new trick because you want it.
Try a new trick because you want to try it.
You can't stop what you can't see coming. I'm talking about keeping your mind and eyes both open. Listen to your body, it'll tell you what you really need to do. Tricking is meant to be fun, it's a creativity outlet. You will improve in tricking only when you fuel your techniques with happiness and excitement. This applies to all realms and aspects regarding tricking, especially when learning a new move.
Chance: The possibility of a particular outcome in an uncertain situation.
All chance, direction, which thou canst not see;
If you don't risk anything, you risk even more.
It's choice - not chance - that determines your destiny.
Prepare yourself so you can make each chance worth taking. If you fall, would you say that the chance wasn't worth taking?
The recovery process of an injury is a re-evaluation period for your training. Something went wrong and now you have two courses of action: Either prolong the injury and make it worse or heal. There are five stages of adjustment to an injury, which are common to everyone who experiences a loss.
Stage 1 : Denial
Nothing, nothing is wrong with me. It's not that bad. - The
first stage does not last long. Either the trickster was right in their
assumption and heals up overnight, forgetting all about the injury; Or,
they progress to stage two.
Stage 2 : Anger
When reality hits as a result of the inability to trick without experiencing
intense pain they enter stage two.
Why me? DAMN IT! FUCKING SHIT!
ARGHHHH This often leads to panic, making the pain worse. This stage
is the most dangerous. It is here that a trickster, through frustration
and panic, might try to force through the pain. Each time they force an
attempt at it they'll be making it more severe.
Stage 3 : Bargaining
Following anger, a sense of false hope arises within the trickster. They
bargain with promises that might resemble
When I recover, I'll never
________ in hopes that the pain will subside. This pleading does prove
futile and we progress to stage four.
Stage 4 : Depression
Upon entering of stage four the trickster realizes nothing can be done and they withdraw or focus on self-pity. In a position of unhappiness, the trickster might try to break the melancholy by alternating back and forth among the first four stages. Before true healing occurs the trickster has to rise to stage five - acceptance.
Stage 5 : Acceptance
The last stage of adjustment regarding injuries, healing! This is the final
stage when the athlete accepts the reality of their loss and starts recovering.
I'm injured, but I've got to get on with my
life. Besides, I could use the rest. It is here that the trickster
will act more responsibly with their pain and true healing occurs.
The condition of restoration! When you accept the fact you have sustained an injury you will also accept the opportunity that goes with it. Opportunity? Yes opportunity! The opportunity to relax, the opportunity to reanalyze your goals, and the opportunity to change your training schedule. You've just taken a fall and accepted the damage; Now is the time to recover and create a new strategy! We'll cover all that in coming moments, first I'd like to start with the basics of recovery:
The injury is your wake up call! It's a cry for attention. No matter what caused the accident you're going to have to alter your training. We'll cover this on a very basic level: Work around the injury. If you have a knee problem you stay off your knee and you avoid the pain. You do not work through the pain, you work around the pain. This definitely isn't difficult to do. Most of the tricking injuries I've gotten were below the waist: Ankle, hip, and groin were common ones for me.
A common mistake many people make when they sustain injury is reducing their activity level to nothing. They become depressed and stop training. This isn't accepting the injury at all. When you accept the injury you will get on with your life, this includes your training. To stop is to die! Mature, adapt, and continue! Find ways to train around the injury!
Injuries are exciting! They give us something new to do and rekindle are love for tricking! Each time I've had to sit out a long time from an injury I would come back better than before. I would feel extreme enthusiasm and love for this acrobatic art, I would begin again with a fresh feeling. Similar to the feeling you get when you jump in a pool during the coldest winter day in January... Fuck... I mean... Nevermind - Let's move on...
This is my favorite outlook on injuries (And burn-outs too). I see tricking in seasons - on and off - just like in other sporting activities. Most competitive athletes have both off and on seasons.
On-season: The time during which an athlete
is training or competing.
Off-season: The time during which an athlete is in a state of suspended or reduced activity.
Off season is a time to focus on different training strategies. It's a good time to step back and analyze your goals. Start by looking at all your weak points (Except your injury hahaha). Decide what needs work and formulate a strategy. I'll give you an example to help give you an idea what I mean:
The last injury I experienced was a hip flexor problem. I couldn't do any jumping kicks that involved a spin; Also my left ankle had buckled under a bit and any jump with an angle in it was out of the question. So I decided that tricking needed a good rest. I looked at what I could work on in the mean time. Hmmmm... My basic kicks have slacked back and my flexibility could always go for a little work. I was able to work on my basic kicks without any pain, so that's just what I did! I also kept weight lifting and stretching. I worked pretty hard in February, just not with the tricks. I was loving it, trick free! I was looking forward to tricking again but I didn't want to short change my recovery, so I waited the whole month. I saw it as an off-season from tricking. Off-season to me didn't mean reduced activity altogether, it meant reduced activity for tricking. When one month was up I started tricking again and it helped a helluva lot.
So analyze your goals, find your weak points, and work on those things around your injuries! Injuries are off season for tricking, just part of the natural cycle: Rise and fall.
Whether you are injured or not the principles discussed in this article can be applied to tricking as a whole. We should be prepared before we leave anything up to chance, this will help us prevent injuries that might occur in the future. When your choice ends in injury accept the turn of events and focus on recovery. Sometimes we just need a break to re-evaluate our lives and our training, an injury is a wake up call and an opportunity to do just that. Don't see it as a set back, see it as a chance to change yourself for the better and learn. It's all part of the natural cycle of rise and fall.
Huang, C., and Lynch, J. Thinking Body, Dancing Mind. US, Canada: Bantam Books, 1992.
Man, I've been injured too many times... Hahaha!