I got caught in an arm bar last Monday night at the Forge, where I am learning mma. Yes, apparently I suck; however, after being caught in this rather precarious maneuver, I thought my elbow had been broke. Not so much from my arm going numb, or the excruciating pain in my elbow and shoulder, but mostly because of the huge tearing sound that made my opponent let go and say “did I break it”. Not exactly what you want to hear. Now the critical point… Am I just “hurt”, or am I “injured”. If I’m hurt but not injured, should I continue fighting or should I rest? How do I know?
Let’s define the difference between hurting and injuring your body. Here is my own rough definition: when you are “hurt”, your body has sustained some sort of benign pathology, or an ouchee, that is sensitive to movement or touch. The integrity of the tissue is usually not compromised to the point where continued movement will cause more or excessive damage to itself or surrounding tissue. In other words, you’re ok; it just hurts like a bitch. And then… and then… there is injury. I don’t like any of the definitions I googled, so let’s look at some cinnamon’s (ha-I crack myself up) destruction, ruin, impairment, mischief… If tissue is destroyed or ruined, it could be said to be “injured”. I’m not Webster, but let me make this clear. When part of your body is compromised to the point that further use is unavailable, or attempting to use said body part may cause more damage, I would define this as an “injury”. Now knowing these terms, how do we distinguish between being hurt, and being injured, without diagnostic equipment like an X-ray or MRI, or one of those cool scanners that “Dr Bones” had on Star trek?
To determine if you are injured or just hurt, in most cases, you can do a quick field assessment to get a rough idea if you should continue training/fighting/playing. You must take into consideration your pain threshold when assessing your status. For instance, if you’re like me, you could have a paper cut and think you need stitches or, on the other end of the spectrum, be like my father in law who could have a bone sticking out of his leg saying, “it just a little bump”. If the pain was acute from a blow or a spasm, or a movement you just did during exercise, you may need to rest at least a day, as pain, adrenaline, and activity can mask your diagnosis. Even if the incident is acute, you can still use these principals as long as your better judgment prevails. This assessment is most accurate for a potential injury sustained over time, when the origin of when the pain began is rather ambiguous. Usually if you sustain an acute, “potential injury” during training, it is usually best to stop the training session at least for the day, observe the pain pattern, and -of course- ice immediately.
If you find yourself hurting, and wanting to determine if you should train through the pain or not, try these simple rules… Read the rest of this entry