Frequent pain/injury on non-dominant side

Discussion in 'Fencing Discussion' started by Salander66, Jan 26, 2012.

  1. Salander66

    Salander66 Rookie

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    Hello, all! I have a question about the effects of hypertrophy on my left (dominant) side and some injuries that I think may be the result of right-side weakness.

    On and off since about two months after I started fencing, I have had distracting pain in my right wrist (always noticeable, but exacerbated by lifting heavy things or manipulating the joint). In addition, when I run to cross-train I experience a lot of soreness/tightness in my right shin, but not in my left, and occasional hip pain, almost always on the right.

    I ran track and cross-country in high school, and have had serious running injuries before (including IT band problems on the left side and a pelvic stress fracture on the right). I have experienced less injury in my year of fencing than at any other point in my athletic life, but I can't help but notice all my aches and pains congregating on the right side these days.

    I occasionally fence right handed, mostly to teach parry drills to beginners so as not to throw them off. I have not noticed any correlation between doing this and the pain reappearing, and I never remember an accident or action that aggravated the wrist once I start to feel the pain. Arthritis does run in my family, but I am only 20, am of normal weight for my size, and am in otherwise great health, so I don't know why it would be manifesting so early.

    There is a noticeable difference between the muscle mass of my left and right forearms, and of my left and right quadriceps. This was not the case before I started fencing, but I have been told that it's normal for a fencer to be bulkier on the dominant side.

    Any insight or suggestions? Things I should or shouldn't do? My mother is a doctor, but when I asked her she said I would probably be better off asking experienced fencers, since few non-fencers understand the sport or its common injuries. I'm a little scared to talk to my coach because I worry he'll want me to "take it easy" for a while. Anything you have to say would be enormously appreciated.
     
  2. Mr Epee

    Mr Epee Rookie

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    A lot of things missing here, unfortunately.

    You've been fencing on and off for two months, and you're already to the point of switching hands for the purposes of teaching parry drills do beginners? See, I'm sure that makes sense to you, but it doesn't make sense to experienced fencers. Fencers do know fencing, but they don't know you.

    Talk to your coach. If you are actually in NM, you might have a few decent folks around to talk to who know you and can assess your situation properly.
     
  3. Salander66

    Salander66 Rookie

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    I've been fencing for a year. The pain started when I had been fencing for two months (ten months ago).
     
  4. Salander66

    Salander66 Rookie

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    I add (defensively) that I fence between 18 and 30 hours a week (almost all day every day during summer, less during school).
     
  5. jjefferies

    jjefferies Podium

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    I'm thinking this is may be more common than is realized. I just came back from an EKG because my left (off hand) side had been giving me some odd twinges. EKG was totally normal and this is not the first time I've experienced something of off side twinges.

    As you have heard this is not unusual. But I personally think it's not to be encouraged. I've seen photos of Cuban fencers who took it to an extreme where one side of their body looked normal while the other looked like Arnold Schwarzenegger on steroids. That can't be good for your overall health.

    You've been fencing a year or less and you say you're training at a rate near to what an Olympic competitor would be working at. I think you already know the answer. I would say depend on your coach. You're paying him for this purpose. I've not met one yet who isn't willing to have an athlete train up to their capability. Personally I would suggest that based on what you've posted, your concern should be about burning out before you reach your full potential.
     
  6. MyrddinsPrecint

    MyrddinsPrecint Podium

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    Lean on your coach and medical professionals for coaching and medical advice. But if you refuse, go ahead and take the advice of a group full of the unqualifieds : )

    If you have more injuries to your off side, there are a few things I can imagine going wrong--- your off side is more clumsy, so more likely to do "dumb" things. Or that side is weaker, so when it tries to pull its fair share, it can't. Or bad luck. That's just off the top of my head.

    If you're going to dedicate that much time toward fencing, and you're not in the middle of a group of very strong clubs, chances are you're not spending all of that time getting great bouting. So spend some of it cross training doing something that your body tolerates well that uses both sides evenly. Preferably something that works cardio or plyometrics or both.

    What sort of goals have you set for yourself?
     
  7. Salander66

    Salander66 Rookie

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    Thank you very much. I just spoke to my coach and he is calling the local sports medicine center to see what they say/what they can do. He hasn't told me to sit out either, just told me not to lift anything heavy this week. I was wrong to worry after all.

    Although I'm putting a lot of time in, I'm not SUPER SUPER good. As noted in my profile, I am still very much unrated :) I'm not training to an elite goal, I just want my E sometime soon, but I would rather fence than do most anything else and am lucky enough to have the opportunity. I never fence less than 16 hours in a week, but the reason I've been fencing THIS much is that I have the chance to fence at my home club for two months (I'm on an interterm work assignment) and I want to get as much time in as possible with my coach and fencing friends before going back to my college club, where I have more responsibilities toward other fencers (and schoolwork).

    You're right about the danger of burning out, however, and I definitely burned out in XC and track. The difference is that I truly love fencing, whereas I hated competitive running, so maybe I'll take better care of myself in this case!
     
  8. Salander66

    Salander66 Rookie

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    I run sometimes, but that neglects the upper body, which is where the worst of the weakness is... I only heard about plyometrics a week ago, and have been looking into it. I never did those kinds of exercises as a runner (excepting high-knees etc.). I'm going to start using a rowing machine to see if that helps.

    Goal-wise? I just want to earn a rating within the next two years. Ideally I'd make it through three rounds of DE's at next year's Big One at Smith College. Other than that, I just want to fence.
     
  9. MyrddinsPrecint

    MyrddinsPrecint Podium

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    Here's an area where I have a mild amount of actual knowledge:

    If you're going to devote that might time out of your week, try to come up with an idea of what you're looking to get out of it. "Fun" is a perfectly good answer. So is "friendship" or "competition" or lots of other things besides. Once you've figured out the point, you can make goals. Process goals are better than Outcome goals. Process goals are things like "learn how to flick" or "get a better sense of what is and isn't a simultaneous action" or "be able to run three miles without feeling like I'm about to die". They're good because you have most of the control over success or failure. Outcome goals are things like "winning the tournament" or "getting my E". They're easy goals to make, and they're very tempting. So tempting that even sport psychology texts break down and tell you to go ahead and make a few, but only a few.

    So you figure out the point of why you're fencing make goals, and then you try to judge your behavior to see if it's getting you closer to your goals. If your goal is "make friends" and "have fun", it doesn't make sense to train to the point of injury. You might as well hang out with your friends who are fencing and ref them.
     
  10. MyrddinsPrecint

    MyrddinsPrecint Podium

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    Swimming and rock climbing are both fun full body workouts that I like.

    The Big One is a terribly horrible no good very bad competition to pick for an outcome goal, if just because you don't know what kind of skill three rounds worth of DEs is going to get you to. Ratings are also difficult for a college fencer-- what sorts of USFA tournaments are you attending? Also, if your point of what you want to get out of fencing is "wanting to fence", I would encourage some self reflection.

    Get yourself some process goals.
     
  11. multum in parvo

    multum in parvo Made the Cut

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    I've had recurring pulled hip flexor on my right (non-dominant) leg, which tells me I need to incorporate weight training into my fitness plan to strengthen the rear leg and balance out everything. Fencing has put me in the best shape of my life, but it's also made the more muscly me stiffer, so stretching is key as well.
     
  12. Salander66

    Salander66 Rookie

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    That's the thing, none of the tournaments I attend with my college club are USFA events; I only get to fence those during winter holiday/summer breaks. We joined the NEIFC and started going to tournaments just this past semester, and added point weapon squads largely due to my incessant begging so that we could fence team multimeets and so I wouldn't have to fence sabre. I might add that we have no salaried coach... Head coach is a student a year ahead of me, a B-rated sabre fencer. I am in charge of epee, which is simply a travesty of justice. This is a big reason for my desire to train with an epee coach while I'm home... Maybe I'll have more to give in my capacity as an assistant coach, and I'll likely get more mileage out of team practices if I have a larger knowledge base to apply to my own fencing (more things I have identified that I can improve and work on in anticipation of competing).

    Process goals? I've never sought a rating or title in a sport before, so I don't know exactly how to break an accomplishment like that down into steps. To get my E I need to do well at tournaments, obviously. To do well at tournaments I need to a.) take more lessons, b.) fence more people I don't usually fence, c.) GO to more tournaments, d.) fix the problems I already know I have, and e.) use open bouting as an opportunity to hone strengths I have identified thus far. Further digestion of the goal will take some time and thought. I recognize that I need small, concrete, attainable steps.

    It would help enormously if my college club weren't totally broke and largely unsupported by our school, which has no athletic program and doesn't realize the boon a funded and successful fencing team could be for admissions and PR. If we could afford a coach, I wouldn't have to spend so much of my fencing time focused on others' performance. My beautiful and enterprising mentor might even get to fence in the tournaments she takes us to.
     
  13. Salander66

    Salander66 Rookie

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    I know just what you mean. Overall I'm extremely healthy, but prone to minor injuries on the weak side.

    I definitely don't stretch enough. I should really drink more water, too... Fencing at high altitude requires hydration vigilance.

    Weight training is a really good idea. My coach recommended fencing epee right-handed for a week or so... Since the muscles I have developed on the left are all the result of the weight/typical actions of epee, it stands to reason that it would be an efficient way to start equalizing. I'll have to wait until the pain drops off a bit, because my wrist is distractingly ouchy even if I rest it on my leg and don't move it at all while fencing.
     
  14. Mr Epee

    Mr Epee Rookie

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    Without seeing what you are doing during those hours this doesn't mean anything.

    ??? What ???


    At this point, it becomes clear that you are some combination of delusional and wildly misinformed on the topics of earth and humans. Time to get out of your lab and see a few things.

    Easy there, McLovin'. Don't look know but your cards are showing. ;-)

    No. This is absurd.

    Now, I'm intrigued. I need to see video of this. Please upload to the YouTubes and link to this thread. Also, pics of your hot lady coach would be appreciated. I know it doesn't seem superfically relevant, but trust me... it is. I suspect this may have something to do with the development of your wrist pain.
     
  15. Fechter1

    Fechter1 DE Bracket

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    Wow, I cannot believe that nobody's said this before now...

    Got pain? Go see a doctor!!!!!

    We now return you to your regularly scheduled insanity.
     
  16. Allen Evans

    Allen Evans Podium

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    Why should anyone say that? It's usually ignored by the OP, and it's more fun to play "House" online.

    For instance, my own advice to the OP is to immediately get a diagnostic lumbar puncture to rule out any number of conditions.

    It's what Greg would do.

    A
     
  17. ravlik

    ravlik Made the Cut

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    Is it the general statement or case specific? I also fence from time to time and do target exercises with off hand.
    Because

    a) IMHO it is the best way to compensate very specific stress the primary side gets from fencing
    b) It is less boring than usual fitness
     
  18. SubSevn

    SubSevn Rookie

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    See a doctor. I had an ankle issue that turned into a shin issue (turns out I've got pretty bad compartment syndrome, I avoided surgery but only barely), and then a knee issue and now lower back.

    Really, see a doctor - the last year of my life has been physical therapy as a result of an injury from many years ago, but I am doing far *far* better than I would be without having seen a professional.

    Doctor. Go see one.
     
  19. Mr Epee

    Mr Epee Rookie

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    If the wrist of your non-weapon hand is aching and in pain, the solution isn't making it your weapon hand.

    a) no.
    b) perhaps, but perhaps not. Many athletes report joyful participation in physical fitness activities other than the one they are already spending 30 hours per week practicing. Of course, ymmv.
     
  20. Salander66

    Salander66 Rookie

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    Have you ever seen a division 3 college tournament, Mr. Epee? I can tell you fairly confidently that the bottom half of those kids wouldn't know cross-training if it jumped up and bit them on the tush. So plyometrics isn't really a hot topic in that circle. As I am hearing now, it's a really important training tool, one of the most important, so I'm looking into pooling funds for a one-day tutorial at school from an experienced trainer so we can all learn a few things. Apologizing for what I don't know is not as helpful as setting out to learn it :)

    Our epee squad is composed of me and three other people who walked in their first day knowing nothing about fencing. Not one person on the whole team (with the exception of the head coach) fenced before college, but we are all wildly enthusiastic about it and have made good progress. And as we really cannot afford to pay an instructor, and I have months of training on these guys, I am honest to goodness the best alternative we have right now (unless we just don't have point weapon squads and get to go to maybe two events in a year). I would so much rather cede to a qualified coach, but I don't know one who's willing to work for chili fries and compliments.

    RE: admissions and PR: I'm not quite deluded enough to think that the average college-shopping teen or prospective donor will do backflips for fencing specifically, but it's the only athletic organization on campus right now and the road to a new sports complex and some real sports teams has to start somewhere. If a rich old lady sees what we're doing and earmarks a donation for a sports center on campus or for the first year's salary of a proper coach, we'll all be very happy.

    I would definitely not call myself an "experienced fencer" or a "qualified coach", but until we can work out a more tenable coaching situation, I won't feel guilty for doing the best I can with what I do know... If 14 people show up day after day ready and excited to fence, I think they deserve to fence, and I have to help where I can.

    P.S. My "beautiful and enterprising mentor" is one of my very best friends. I just like to represent her the way she deserves to be represented ;) Plus she spends countless hours a week teaching us for free, plus time and effort coordinating our participation in tournaments, working out transportation, ordering equipment using the pittance we get from the school, and organizing fundraising activities. All because she thinks we should get to fence. She's beautiful inside and out, if you ask me.

    As for fencing right handed, I have played lacrosse and field hockey right handed with no difficulty and can write legibly with either hand. My coach has warned me that since I have less strength and have not honed point control on my right, I will need to start with a few lessons several levels below where I am to try and gain that coordination. It's not totally unheard of. A man at my neighborhood club alternated every two weeks for decades.
     
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