What does weakness feel like?
I remember when I was a little girl on the playground during recess. The other little girls would gather around the rings or monkey bars and gracefully, and seemingly effortlessly pull themselves along. I tried it (many times) and I could only hold on to maybe two or three rings. It just hurt my hands so badly. I marveled at those who seemed to float along, laughing and smiling. I really couldn’t figure out what the difference was between them and myself. I never guessed that they were just stronger.
It seems we often don’t consider the possibility that we might just be physically weak. Or that weakness could be a source of pain and limitation.
The trouble with not considering this possibility is that it limits the ways in which we try to solve the problem.
If someone were to attribute their symptoms, i.e. aches and pains, or their lack of mobility or other movement impairments to physical weakness, then they would have a straight forward path to improving their situation.
If they attribute their stiffness to a congenital lack of flexibility or their pain to joint pathology, chronically tight muscles or nerve problems, or maybe even something with a more distinct diagnosis, then they may either suffer continually thinking that the situation cannot be changed, or go straight to treating it with more invasive techniques (meaning treatments that do damage while also attempting to do good).
For some reason it seems like it’s quite difficult to notice one’s own physical weakness. Rather than thinking, “Wow, I’m just so weak.” we tend to think, “I’m so stiff, I need to stretch more.” or something along those lines. It seems easier to think that we can’t take a big step up because of nerve pathology than because we lack the strength to do so.
Weakness feels like awe, and a bit of perplexity. when we’re looking at someone else doing something. Like the way I felt when I was watching the other little girls on the monkey bars.
It can also feel like cringing when we’re sure that the person we’re looking at just hurt themselves, because we would have hurt ourselves had we done the same thing.
When a great number of possible actions lead to injury, that’s an indication of weakness.
If we do try the activity that we saw someone else do and hurt ourselves, we might attribute the difference to a lack of skill instead of realizing that what’s under that person’s skin is different than what’s under our skin and that they actually can withstand 10 times the amount of force that we can.
There’s a fine line between strength and skill, because strength is a skill. Meaning that choosing how you let forces travel through your body is a skill.
How can you tell whether you have a special pathology requiring invasive treatment, or if you’re just weak?
One possible answer: assume that you are.
Why? Because the solution is simple. The solution I’m referring to is, of course, progressive exercise, or training. Weakness isn’t who we are, it’s a state that we happen to be in and that we can change.
If physical training is not the right solution, you’ll still be better off than where you started, because now you have more tissue resilience, more endurance, better circulation and can now face a solution that’s more invasive with a greater capacity for recovery.
The same act can either injure someone or not injure them. The difference is in what the body has been trained to withstand. It’s the way that individual has built whatever is under their skin that determines whether an action leads to injury or nothing.
Weakness is feeling like we can’t do a lot of things. Strength is knowing we can.