Monday, March 5, 2012

What the Body Says, Goes

2010-2011 season in Sweden.

  It's like it knew I was talking about it, and wanted to let me know EXACTLY who was in charge...

  On Friday I wrote about how I typically go about making my decision on whether I will play another basketball season abroad as a pro.

  Atop that list, is a heavy dependence on how my body feels, and if I feel I am healthy enough to play another physically demanding season.

  As an athlete, you're always going to have aches and pain, and bumps and bruises. But you quickly learn to decipher one from the other. What you can play through, and what needs more attention. There's an enormous difference between playing hurt and playing injured.

Playing Injured vs. Playing Hurt
  Playing injured is never a smart idea, in my opinion. An injury, of any kind, demands immediate attention, and requires you to take a break to let your body heal. On the other hand, I think everyone has played hurt at one point or another. You wake up with a stiff back, or your foot doesn't feel quite right. So you warm-up a little bit more-gingerly, and before you know it, you're feeling normal.

NCAA Tourney -- Elite 8 versus Oklahoma.
  As your career progresses (at least this has been my experience), your body develops its habitual injuries. They're the things that you always have to keep in mind, and be aware of.

  They've probably been nagging you off and on for years. But when it comes down to it, they're the things that always seem to be the culprit when it comes to keeping you off the court.

My Constant: My Back
  For some basketball players, it might be their knees. Since my college days, it's always been my back. Nine times out of 10, if I'm on the sideline, it's going to be because of my back.

  I had surgery on it when I was 20 because of herniated discs. It was a scary thing. Lots and lots of back pain, and leg numbness. Not normal for a 20 year old, is it? But thankfully, I felt immediate relief after the surgery, and slowly made my way back to the court.

  Dealing with my back has been a learning experience. I've learned a lot about what my body can and cannot do. Things that help my body excel, and the things that drag me down. I am very cautious about trying out new exercises or movements that I feel might expose by back, and cause any injury.

  I think because of the precautions I take, and the extra exercises I do (lots of stretching and core-strengthening), I have been able to keep my back relatively healthy during my career as a professional.

This season vs. Le Havre.
  But sometimes you can't help it. Things happen on the court -- you're bound to tweak it every once in a while. And that's exactly what happened with me over weekend. I felt a slight twinge in practice on Thursday, got treatment on Friday, and thought I'd be ready to go for our game on Saturday night (March 3rd). My body had other ideas however. And that's where you have listen to what it is saying.

Your Body is Boss
  Your mind can think one way, but your body might have a whole different plan. Sad to say, but you can't will your body to being able to play.

  It's a sobering thing, as an athlete, to have your body fail you. You can work all you want to prepare, but sometimes it's just not in the cards for you to be out on the court.

NCAA Tourney vs. North Carolina
  In my younger days, I might have tried to give it a go, and struggled though a painfully (in more ways than one) bad game. I've been there before, but I know better now.

  While I love basketball with all my heart, I realize it is a game, and pain is there for a reason. Not being able to play freely (injured) is no fun. In fact it's down right miserable, and that's one thing I will never do again.

  So I had to sit out our game versus Pleyber-Christ. It's always difficult to be on the sidelines, watching your team. You feel a little helpless. So all you can do is cheer your teammates on, and hope for the best. But sometimes you just have to listen to your body, and let things rest.

  Thanks for the reminder, body (not that I needed it)! You indeed DO call the shots! (by the way, I'm feeling better -- should be back on the court in a couple days!)

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