As Aeschylus once said:
“He who learns must suffer. And even in our sleep pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God.”
Suffering may not be necessary for learning, but suffering is inevitable, especially when it comes to exercise. Since suffering is inevitable, one of the best things we can do is simply learn from it. Almost everyone gets injured while exercising or experiences pain of some sort, so I thought I would share my worst joggling injury stories, and what we can learn from them, since I get asked this a lot.
Many people assume I get injured a lot more often than regular runners since the balls are assumed to be a distraction. Make no mistake about it, they are a “distraction”(or rather an important feature of the exercise), but as you gain experience, you focus on juggling the balls less and less. Overall, I very rarely get injured, even when I joggle at night or joggle while drunk.
As for my worst joggling injuries, it’s a close tie between two incidents from last year: An ankle injury in March, and the time I fell and hurt my hand(the same hand that was broken in a car accident) in August. I sprained my ankle when I started to joggle along the edge of a raised path to get out of someone’s way, just down the street from where I live. My foot slipped, and twisted downward along the edge as I tried to regain my footing, pulling the ankle ligament. It hurt a lot at first, but then the pain subsided. I applied ice when got home.
While it didn’t hurt while walking, it did hurt while running, so I couldn’t joggle for a few weeks to let it heal. During that time I did manage to power-walk while juggling to stay in shape. It’s not as intense as joggling, but it comes close.
The other glorious injury was due to not noticing a sharp rock sticking out of the ground which caused me to trip while out on a mid-day joggle. I dropped the balls while flying forward, and would have landed on my head if I hadn’t used my arms to break my fall. Unfortunately, the palm of my right hand scrapped against another sharp rock as I fell, which caused a big cut that oozed blood.
I quickly got back up, and thought that I could still joggle even with the cut that was dripping blood. It wasn’t especially painful, but it felt awkward juggling blood-soaked balls. There weren’t a lot of people around, but the few people who saw me went “ewww!”. I was only 1.5 miles away from home near the end of a long joggle, so I didn’t have much farther to go anyway.
As soon as I got back home I washed the cut very thoroughly and applied hydrogen peroxide to kill any germs(I also washed the blood off the balls). I then applied some glycerin on the cut and put a band-aid over it. I was able to juggle pretty much pain-free thanks to the band-aid and how quickly it healed. It didn’t prevent me from joggling at all, and it was fully healed in almost 2 weeks. It was like it never happened. Do not take this as an endorsement of joggling with bloody hands!
I’ve experienced similar injuries as a runner many years ago. As I said before, the balls are not a big distraction once you become an experienced joggler. They can even be out-of-focus as you look straight ahead, and at your surroundings as you joggle. Still, I think you should stop juggling and simply carry the balls as you run while crossing streets or if there are a lot of people around and it is difficult to move out of the way.
The last time I fell to the ground(a few weeks ago) while joggling I did it on purpose. In case anyone who witnessed this incident in the park in Tuckahoe is reading this, I did it on purpose! There were a lot of children around, and I couldn’t resist trying to make them laugh, which is one of the best things about joggling. And they did laugh.
The lessons I’ve learned, and relearned from these experiences was to be more mindful of my surroundings, to look more closely at the ground, and to be extra careful near sharp edges along paths. I was kidding about joggling while drunk.