Last night, I woke up after just 3 hours of sleep to a discomfort in a muscle near my ankle. At first it felt like it was just one of those times when I’d fall asleep in the wrong position, and stretching it out would be enough to make the pain would go away, and I’d fall back to sleep in no time. But this time around, I just became more and more awake to the pain. It felt like it wasn’t going to go away anytime soon. I actually got the light and checked my leg just to make sure that it wasn’t swollen. I knew it was one of those sciatica-causing conditions because it was a similar sensation.
I zenned my way into falling back to sleep and thankfully, it worked. When I woke up to start the day, I was glad that the pain was barely there, although there was still some residue of it. As the day passed it would let itself be known here and there.
I know this pain – it’s the kind when I’d have a sports injury for playing too few times in the week. My orthopedic surgeon used to call me a weekend player because I’d only play the sport I was playing then once in seven days. He said weekend players would usually get injured more because they were less conditioned for the sport and would therefore be more prone to wrong movements and knee-jerk reactions when things would catch them off guard – reactions that would more likely cause injury.
He told me if I wanted to get serious with the sport, I should play more often and take my conditioning seriously. I should complement this with gym, cardio, and strength training in order to get my body, my back, and my muscles in shape.
I did light workouts and stretches everyday via a program on my phone, and would play ball once to twice a week, about two hours each session. This has been my routine for the past five years and the sport has always been one of the top things I’d look forward to in the week. Apart from the regular endorphin boost that the sweat and physical exertion would give, seeing friends in my teammates regularly was its own mood enhancer.
When the pandemic happened, all of that just stopped in a snap. In the beginning, I thought more about how I lost a big part of the social activity of the team sport and how I longed for it. Playing with the same bunch of people on a regular basis inevitably gives you a bond like no other. You learn so much about each other and you get to teach each other so much on and off the field, too. There were just so much good vibrations going on whenever the club gets together to play. Sorely missing that until now.
Now, my body’s crying out for the physical activity. I stuck to the light workouts every morning since the quarantines, but staying at home 90% of the time would relegate me to my desk and office chair and that is definitely not good for my back and my sciatic nerve. It wants the physical exertion again, and more of it.
This has brought me to ruminating on how athletes training for the Olympics or other international leagues have been dealing with the sudden loss of sport. Those in team sports must be suffering the bigger blow, and especially those who are much younger, those who have been doing this their whole lives or have known only this. I wonder what they’ve been doing now to compensate for the abrupt stop in physical activity? The mood boosts that the sport gives them is tantamount to getting regular highs from artificial means, and to have that suddenly stop would probably make them feel like they’re having withdrawal symptoms. How are they taking care of their bodies now and ensuring the continued conditioning? Have all the team players shifted to individual sports? Has everyone just adopted a workout routine at home, too? Has this been enough to compensate for the specific movements their particular sports shaped their exercises, their bodies, their routines?
Anyway, enough of my thought clouds. I told my Dad about what happened to me last night and he said we should go walking in the morning and in the afternoon from here on in, to help with this. I talked to my sister and she said I should raise my feet before going to bed. I said I already do, for at least thirty minutes. I asked her how long she does hers. She said almost the whole night.
I’ll try to do both. Man, I really miss playing too. Wish we could all get together and do the things we love again soon enough.