Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Acceptable pain

Pain is a pretty individual concept.  What one person accepts as a Tuesday morning would send another person to the hospital.  For people involved in physical activities (like, oh, say riding), it's a given.  If you're going to train your body and try to increase your strength, it's going to hurt sometimes.  It's how your body tells you that your muscles are working harder than they're used to and you get friendly reminders to take it easy for a couple days.  Everyone that rides has had that morning where they wake up wishing there was no such things as stairs.

We were chatting about my position in my lesson yesterday.  I'm trying to learn to canter with my inside hip leading, but it's a challenge in several ways.  My flexibility in my left hip is hampered by my old injury and I'm still locking in the ability to sit all of the beats of the canter.  Doing something crazy like putting my inside hip forward takes so much brain space that I can't remember to do anything else.  This includes steering or sitting down.  Yes, I almost mowed Trainer A over while cantering around looking like a fool because I was focusing so hard on my hips I forgot to look up.  Thank you Theo for taking over when I didn't notice the jump standards.  This is why you're my partner.  You keep me alive when I'm being dumb.

While trying to catch my breath, my slimmer physique came up, specifically through my waist.  I don't think that's from weight loss.  I think that's from twice a week lessons that always end with me holding onto some part of my body going 'uggggh, that's going to suck tomorrow'.  Just as mi papi is learning to lift with his abs and hold it, I'm learning to manage my body instead of being a sack of potatoes.  No one told me how much strength it takes to sit down and manage your balance without clinging to your horse with your legs.  When I canter properly with my keister in the saddle for all three beats and the suspension, my abs burn.  My hips burn.  My lower back burns.  Laterals make my obliques ache.  Circles now make the hip flexor  thingies (I still don't know my muscle groups) beg for mercy after a couple reps.  Sure, my upper body and legs get in on the act sometimes, but it is always my core that aches after a lesson.

Trainer A was pleased by the mention of aching muscles after every lesson, but concerned that I would push myself too hard.  She didn't want me to do anything that would make me not want to ride or actually lay me up.  There are benefits to being an adult.  I now the difference between the kind of pain that comes with strength and the kind that comes with an injury.  My sore ankle?  That's getting babied through no stirrup work and dismounting with just one foot.  My abs?  Suck it up, cupcake.  At least it's not the two months of hip cramps that I got last summer when my stirrups were first dropped down.  That was awful when I couldn't sleep.  This kind of ache is almost amusing, at least for my husband.  When lifting a gallon of milk makes you hesitate and debate on how much you really want that milk, you know you've worked hard.

I know I've got another round of hip flexibility work coming up.  Trainer A's patience with my toes pointing out is coming to an end and Theo's now sensitive enough that I don't have an excuse to use anything but my calf.  I'm not looking forward to it.  It's an acceptable level of pain, but that doesn't mean I enjoy it.  At least it amuses the hubby.


  1. I've been attempting to work on hip flexibility and it has been rough. Too much sitting at work...

  2. It's all worth it in the end when you suddenly realize you have access to muscle groups you didn't even know were a real thing!

  3. I like when it's a day later and I'm crippled in some random place I didn't know I had like WHAT DID I EVEN DO.

    Yeah that's happening today.