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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

P90X Day 7 - Good Pain

On the seventh day, he (mostly) rested.

The last day of each week in the P90X cycle is rest or X-Stretch. The latter is a one-hour stretching routine, designed to increase flexibility and speed recovery.

As I've mentioned many times, flexibility is not a strong area for me. To be honest, I've got pretty much nothing in that department. When I took the foot-in-the-box hamstring flexibility test in college, I couldn't even reach the box, let alone push back the little gauge on top. The person testing me thought I was joking. I may have mentioned this before, not that it bothers me or anything.

That said, I've never worried too much about being flexible. With the exception of musical theatre in college, I've had no specific need for flexibility in my life, and as long as my muscles can keep carrying me forward, I've seen no reason to pursue it.

Until, that is, earlier this year. My month of yoga really got me thinking about how I can change my body for the better, and I experienced a very important (obvious) fact: the more flexible I am, the less I will hurt after exercise. I realize everyone already knows this fact, but it's something I had to experience first-hand in order to truly comprehend it, because pain has never been a problem for me.

I take a certain amount of (misdirected) pride in the amount of pain that I can withstand. When I was in the hospital last year, my wife informed the nurses to take whatever pain measure I gave them and increase it by 20% to get an idea of what was really happening. Marathon pain is a badge of honor, and with all the twisted ankles, pulled muscles and strained ligaments I've had in my running life, a little bit of pain is to be expected on pretty much any given day.

I also made the decision a few years ago to avoid taking ibuprofen except when absolutely necessary. I used to pop them like candy after workouts, but I came to realize - besides the obvious risks of taking too many NSAIDs - that is was only masking the pain, causing me to continue doing damage. I didn't know if I was actually feeling better or if the drugs were just working. I didn't know when I was truly well.

So now, I use the pain as a starting point for gauging my readiness for the next thing, and today, I've got a bit of pain. Mostly in the shoulders and butt from all the kicking and punching yesterday, but some in other areas as well. So, usually, I would take the rest day that is allowed.

But, as my wife pointed out, this pain can also be saying something different. Instead of "do nothing," this pain may actually be saying, "Stretch, idiot." Rather than sit still and wait for the pain to go away, I can take active (non-pharmaceutical) steps to fix it. Perhaps I should just do what the program tells me to do. Go figure.

So, I brought the DVD to work with me in order to complete the workout on lunch. Naturally, it won't play in my computer, but I found a list of the workouts online and did all of them I recognized. I figure it's better than nothing and certainly a step in the right direction. And even though it did hurt, I could tell it was a good pain. A healing pain. The kind that tells your body it's getting stronger. And that, after all, is the whole point.

One week down, twelve to go.

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