Tag Archives: injury

My worst joggling injuries

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.

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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.

How I got into joggling

I am often asked why and when I started joggling, among many other questions, and here’s the answer:

I have only been joggling for about a year and a half and juggling for a little while longer. The main reason I started juggling and joggling soon after was because I was in a nasty car accident about 2 years ago. Besides breaking my right hand(one of the metacarpal bones), my left leg was badly bruised, and I had trouble walking. Luckily I spent only a day in the hospital, and my right hand was in a cast for a month.

As soon as the ugly cast came off when my bones had healed, my right(dominant) hand was extremely weak and near useless for several days. I did the rehabilitation exercises(submerging my hand in hot water for 10 minutes, closing and opening a fist) the doctor told me to do every day, and slowly regained my strength but still had little dexterity.

After a few months of this, my hand was mostly back to normal, but I felt I didn’t have the same hand and arm coordination I had before the accident. I was already running again(I’ve been a runner since an early age), but this was becoming increasingly boring. Running had become boring to me before the accident, though I still did it. So I decided to learn how to juggle. It took me weeks due to my poor coordination, but after about a month and a half, I was proficient with the 3 ball cascade. I juggled with lacrosse balls, since they are easily available where I live.

Even before becoming proficient with juggling a 3 ball cascade while stationary, I tried to joggle with 3 balls since it is more time efficient(why run and juggle separately if I can do them at the same time?), but the results were disastrous. So I started “joggling” only 2 balls, and this came easy to me. This isn’t real joggling or even juggling, but it was something to build from.

The transition to 3 ball joggling was difficult. I practiced almost every day for 1 to 2 hours, dropping balls very frequently. Eventually after several months of practice, I could joggle for a mile without dropping any balls or tripping and falling. Then 2 miles. Then 3, while increasing my speed. These days, I am capable of joggling for 5 miles without any drops, though I don’t do this very frequently. I trip so rarely, it surprises even me. One important limiting factor in the early stages of learning to joggle is how exhausting it is; it’s significantly more tiring than mere running, but soon enough you will adapt.

I often do juggling tricks while joggling, twirling around, leaping up on benches and trying to joggle faster, so I do drop balls just about every time I go out to joggle for an hour. I also joggle at about the same speed I would run at if I were not juggling 3 balls, so it isn’t a hindrance to having a good running speed. In fact, since joggling absolutely requires good form and flawless posture, it is possible it is helping me run a little faster – this makes it excellent cross-training for runners and other athletes.

There is still some room for improvement, like not dropping while doing tricks, or when dealing with distractions and crossing busy roads, but I have more than compensated for any loss in coordination due to the accident, and running is a lot more fun than it used to be. I can’t joggle or juggle with 5 balls yet, but I am working on it. Juggling and joggling become boring unless you’re challenging yourself.

If I can joggle, a self-confessed total clutz, a person with little natural athletic ability, who only learned how to juggle at the age of 30 who was a lousy baseball and soccer player as a child, I believe many more people can do it. It just takes a lot of practice.