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Our Friend the Shoulder

Ah, the noble shoulder: integral part of brawny tasks.

Atlas used his to hold up the (mythical) world, Leonardo drew the (real) joint in detail, and modern English users have metaphor-ed and verb-ed what was originally a noun. We shoulder burdens and put our shoulders to the wheel: you wouldn’t do that with a pinky toe or a navel. When Carl Sandburg wanted to tell you how burly the city of Chicago was, he talked about the town’s shoulders.

And mine hurt, especially the right one.

Mine look like this on the inside, too. I hope. I also have more hair than the model. But not on my shoulders. I hope.

Important disclaimer: getting nicked up is a part of training. Everyone knows this. Call it “The Gentle art” all you want (and that’s really a misleading translation, but that’s a topic for another day), you’ll still be icing something every once in a while.

Why write about this now? Again, injuries are a part of training, and I want to be honest with myself about what jiu-jitsu does to my body — the good and the bad.

The pain’s not much: it only hurts appreciably when I move it horizontally from right to left, as if I were at the end of a ZZ Top music video. But when I do that, I find myself hearing Groucho Marx’s voice telling me not to.

Apart from that, there seems to be a good deal of soreness and much less range of motion. I decided at the start of the vacation that I was only going to train a little bit, substituting yoga and deep-tissue massage for shoulder activities.

I’ll be frank: I’m disappointed that my six-week strategy for recovery hasn’t succeeded to the level I expected. It has improved, but it’s far from fixed.

Granted, that six-week strategy of rest, relaxation, and massage took a bit of a diversion into training judo with the Palau team, but hey, let’s not nitpick.

I’d like to say that I’m going to take it easy for another couple of weeks. But training camp for the no-gi Pans is starting, and, well, you know how it is.

My shoulders might be half as brawny as normal, but they’ll do. I’m not from Chicago anyway.


About Jeff

I write, work for social justice, listen to music and grapple. That's about it for now.

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