I am not as young as I used to be. My body told me that today. After a long volleyball tournament (when I say long, I’m not kidding: 8am to 5pm), I walked slowly and sorely to my car. My shoulders were stiff from hitting all day; my back was tired from contorting myself in an attempt to dig a ball or hit an off set; and my legs were like Jell-O from jumping to block and jumping to hit. This 31-year-old felt more like an 80-year-old by the time the clock struck 5pm. As I hobbled up my stairs, it donned on me that there is Unexpected Health masked in the odor of Tiger Balm and bound tightly in our aching and aging muscles…when we are sore.
I know, it’s hard to believe that there could be ANY health in stiff joints, achy muscles, and knotted backs. But there is! Being sore (or having any nearly-debilitating physical ailment) forces us to pamper ourselves, and taking a little extra nurturing “ME” time is healthy. As I have stated time and time again, we live in an oftentimes painful world. We push ourselves to the limits, rarely taking the much needed TLC essential to live a healthFUL and sustainable life. But when we do push ourselves past our limits, we come to a crossroads: do we keep pushing to the point of exhaustion, possibly inflicting permanent damage on our bodies? Or do we listen to our throbbing muscles and give ourselves a ‘Time Out?’ I chose to take a big, fat T.O. this evening. I walked through the door, threw my gym bag on my bed, drew myself a hot bath with dead sea salts (great for sore muscles and joints), lit a candle and lathered a facial mask on my skin…and there I soaked. I didn’t come home and immediately start unpacking my bag, making dinner, or cleaning up. Nope. I sank deep into my tub, relaxing my body after a physically taxing day, while giving my mind a little R&R after a busy week.
When we are sore from physical activity or pained from emotional stress, we are taught to “work through the pain,” right? As athletes, we learn to play harder…to stop at nothing. I get that. I was taught that. I tend to live my life that way. But sometimes, when we can’t see the fast track we are quickly speeding down, our bodies will pull our own Emergency brake, forcing us to stop, slow down, and take care of the only precious physical body we have on this planet. So the next time you physically or emotionally tire yourself out, take the road less traveled. Give yourself a Time Out and take care of yourself. Your mind–and definitely your body–will thank you for it. As I sit here, typing away, I can already feel my muscles loosening, my tension unraveling, and my mind relaxing…and I have my soreness to thank for that. -Until tomorrow, Jaime
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