By Ty H. Phillips
Injuries are inherent in sports.
At some point, if you play anything from ping pong to powerlifting, you will be faced with a sprain or tear or break of some form. I’ve been fairly lucky. I guess you could say. I’ve not had many severe injuries, although I have had severe health issues (but that’s an old story).
As a lifter who has been up into the 1000 pound area of squatting, it’s amazing that I have had little to no major injuries. Yet, take muscles that are conditioned over years and years of one sport and toss in something totally new and different—it’s not shocking that things happen.
Two days ago, I tore my calf muscle.
Things were going well, I was having fun, and then it happened. I felt the ‘punch,’ I heard the pop and it was all over but the awkward limping and grumbling under my breath about “all the stupid things…”
Injuries can be depressing. It’s a setback in the plan and take time away from what we love doing. They hurt and cause needed for time off of work to heal up and be able to move around normally. Basically what I am saying is, injuries suck.
That being said, attitude goes a long way when we are down and out.
It seems an odd place to insert Buddhism when I am talking about sports injuries, but the teaching of attachment leading to suffering never had such a simple yet true example. Yes, I am hurt. It hurts to walk, it hurts to touch and it is costing me money. It takes time away from my sport and even from moving normally.
I can focus on all of these issues and be attached to my anger and increase my suffering or I can understand that it’s temporary. I can accept what it is right now and shift my focus into something more productive.
Now, I might have lost some of you. You’re thinking this is just an article about being a muscle head—about some bloated lifter who is upset that he can’t “pick things up and put them down,” but we can apply this to anything.
When we are down and frustrated, do we hold on to that frustration alone or do we choose to shift focus and continue to find a way to improve in something else?
I’m a terrible bench presser. My friends call it “poverty bench” (maybe I need new friends), but while I am unable to squat or deadlift, I have the option of focusing even more so on something that is my weakness. I can improve my overall technique and strength in the movement by resting everything else and training and recovering only from bench.
Attachment applies to anything in life and our suffering because of that attachment has a thousand outlets. Not everything in life has an on and off button. Buddha mentioned this when he talked about the types of suffering. We can’t control birth, death, aging, sickness, or death. We can’t control how others act or react. But we can largely work with our attitudes and outlook on things and whether or not we are adding suffering to ourselves or trying to alleviate that suffering.
We will all face hurt and pain and we will all suffer throughout our lives. Why add to it? Take the time to look at your attachments. Are we really holding on to the problem or are we simply dwelling on our feelings about the problem? It’s okay to hurt or be sad but are we doing anything to help the process along?
It all starts with the little things. We don’t climb Mount Everest by jumping right to the top, unprepared, in a t-shirt, without oxygen, and thinking we will be fine. In the same way, we don’t start the path by looking at things globally.
We take small steps first so that we don’t become overwhelmed (even if that means learning to apply the Buddha’s teachings to a sports injury).
Editor: Dana Gornall