Nobody likes feeling pain and if you do, you likely run in circles that won’t have you reading a Buddhist blog. But I’m not here to judge. GENERALLY, people don’t like to feel pain and it’s no secret that there are many sources of pain outside of accidental or intentional. I’ve recently written posts about injuries and how they can be aggravated by Diabetes as well as how one shouldn’t ignore injuries or pain if they persist for long periods of time.
One of the body parts that can relate to ALL of those aspects are one’s joints. I don’t know about you but as the years have dragged on, I’ve started to notice an increased amount of joint paint. Not consistent and certainly not debilitating but just enough that it draws my notice.
Now, just to be clear because sometimes I’m not, a joint as it relates to the body is where two bones meet. Joints allow the free movement of the body, which we would be unable to do otherwise. These meetings of bones are held together by ligaments, which are strong elastic bands of tissue and movement is achieved by tendons, which are also a connective tissue that connect to the muscles that create movement.
All caught up? Good. People tend to take their joints and the respective movement they provide for granted and assume that muscles are solely responsible for proper movement. But there are many moving pieces to the process (pun fully intended). The last piece of the puzzle is cartilage. This is another type of connective tissue that serves a number of different functions throughout the body. One of the most important among these functions is coating the bones in a joint to cushion them against friction and impact.
Over time and extensive use, such as one might see from decades of martial arts training, the cartilage in one’s joints can become worn. This wear and tear can eventually cause loss of motion in the joint and pain as the bare surfaces of the bones start to rub together. This grinding of bones is called osteoarthritis, or the “wear-and-tear” disease.
It’s not always as bad as bare bones rubbing against each other. Even mild conditions can have you feeling aches and pains in the joints, especially when moving. It’s important to pay attention to these aches and pains as they can be treated in various ways but it’s obviously easier to do so before it becomes worse. Any joint pain you feel that’s sharp or acute can mean something more serious, like a torn ligament or tendon, muscle damage of bone fractures. None of those should be left untreated and you should have them checked by your medical practitioner.
Why am I writing about this? Well, the reality is that when one studies a contact art like karate, one’s joints take a terrific beating, figuratively and literally. I know that after the many decades of training hard, my joints certainly aren’t what they used to be and I would be lying if I said my knees don’t swell up like balloons on rainy days. The important thing is to keep stretching, warming up the body and ensuring that you don’t ignore consistent, chronic pain when it becomes known. Your body will thank you. ☯️