Something I have learned since becoming a black belt is how important it is to listen to how your body feels. As one of the ‘older’ students on the mat most nights, I am continually faced with limitations that come from getting old. I have the added challenge of having messed up my knee twice. (torn ACL once, torn meniscus twice) So it has become very important to listen to what my body is telling me, even if that means limiting what I can do.
Something that I have learned is that with limitations, you also can learn to adapt. And even more importantly, if there are no alternatives, you just don’t do certain things, and that is OK. One of the lessons I learned shortly after getting my Black belt, was that I needed to limit how many classes I took a week. Leading up to my first Black belt test, I tried to make class every night. That was great, but I was also ‘in pain’ all the time. Since my test, I pay more attention to what my body is telling me. The happy place between challenging myself each week and consistent pain seems to be about four classes.
I had to learn this didn't mean I was ‘losing interest’ or won’t continue to grow as a student. What I have found is with the balance, I am actually able to move forward faster. I get more out of the classes I do make, because I am not dealing with certain ‘owie’ areas. Another important lesson I have learned is with adapting or limiting the amount of ‘jumping’ I do each class. This was one of the hardest lessons, because many of the jumping kicks come very naturally now, but I know will lead to a night with my friend Advil and Mr. Ice Pack. By listening to my body, I have discovered certain jumping kicks are fine, while there are specific ones that add just enough stress on my knee to cause a problem.
For the other ‘older’ students in class, my recommend is to start paying attention to how different kinds of workouts make you feel. I know a certain amount of soreness is to be expected, especially as you get started. But specific pains are the enemy and your body will tell you when you’ve over done it. This is where the masters can be super helpful, they can always provide suggestions or alternative options, so don’t be afraid to ask for help if you find something your body is telling you to stop doing. The other great thing about letting them know is they will start watching out for you, reminding you to slow down.