Playing hurt

Playing hurt

Injuries are never fun.  There’s the moment of insult to your body, then coping with the physical pain on top of the emotional component that seeps in whether you want it to or not.  Let’s face it, most injuries ache, may well be serious, and can mean the end of a dream or at the very least a postponement.

Boxers have an interesting relationship with pain.  Getting hit can hurt!  It is shocking, jarring and can literary knock a boxer senseless.  For the most part, with good training and practice, the hurts don’t really hurt per se – especially at the level of sparring in the gym.  Sure, the hits can be hard, but with protective gear on, there is some modicum of safety.  More to the point, it’s the place where a boxer will work out his or her own relationship to pain.  To what pain means and to how cope with it, and to learn to differentiate between how the body absorbs a blow and where it creeps over the line to injury.

For women boxers the issue of playing-through-pain can take on other components.  Our relationship to pain is complex, after all, we go through the whole labor and delivery thing and that is no picnic.  Getting body-checked in the ring though can be no joke and one has to be “ready” for it on the one hand as part of the game of boxing, and on the other be prepared for the emotions of “getting hit.”   Many of us also have to work through, decades of mental conditioning on the subject of hitting, getting hit, our “delicate” dispositions, and unfortunately, a legacy of abuse of one kind or another.   This last can be a complex intrusion into the workout that’ll cause many a boxer to breakdown into a puddle of tears for no seeming reason long before an actual “hit” would ever fell a boxer physically or mentally.

In the end, boxers contend with all sorts of injuries all the time.  The usual suspects included pulled muscles, sprained ankles, concussions, broken noses and cut eyebrows.   The injuries we don’t see are the very old hurts they may have compelled us into the gym in the first place.  Those are the harder ones to acknowledge and heal, but eventually, if a boxer sticks with it, those aches get worked out too through a mixture of stamina, determination, grit and a lot of humor.

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