Friday, June 3, 2011

Estrogen-Induced Injury

[Warning: This post talks about “women’s issues” and contains links to scholarly research and potentially heretical satire. Read at your own risk.]

Have you ever had an estrogen induced injury? Well Shark Girl has. I wouldn't have known it was estrogen-induced if I had not gone to my parents’ house this past weekend and read the month-old copy of Women’s World that I found in my old room. Yes, my old room has been invaded by outdated Old Lady Magazines.

Shark Girl Reads
            I was browsing through these OLMs in order to drift off into peaceful sleep. A headline caught my attention: Baby Your Joints! Among gems like, “Raise your seat higher so you put less stress on your knees while standing up,” Shark Girl read something like, “Be careful with your joints before your period—estrogen levels spike making them more vulnerable to injury.” The target audience for this magazine must be a little younger than I thought.

Shark Girl Gets Hurt : (
            The next morning, I was passing guard. I grabbed my partner’s gi with my left hand, four fingers under, thumb up. It was a secure grab, but I didn’t put weight on my thumb. Suddenly, I heard or felt (I can’t remember which) a pop. My thumb ached and I called time. I briefly inspected my thumb. No blood. No acute pain. Fine mobility. There were only a few seconds left in the roll so I did what any good Shark Girl would do. I finished the roll (protecting my thumb, of course). I left with an ice pack and sucked down some ibuprofen. I even stopped in to see an old high school friend on the way home.

Shark Girl Connects the Dots
            I’ve been pregnant twice. Pregnant ladies have lots of estrogen. Pregnant women also have notoriously lax ligaments. Some people think this is because stretchy ligaments help the ladies deliver large-headed babies through seemingly impossible structural drawbacks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  . . . . . This accident came on without warning. No pain indicating overextension. Nothing. It was a puzzler. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  . . . . . . . . . .Was I surging with estrogen? Was I pre-periodal? I stopped keeping track a long time ago. This recently contributed to a pregnancy scare that I would have called the Vatican on. The headlines would have read New Savior Conceived by Shark Girl. In the end, I was just too busy working, raising kids, volunteering for professional organizations, and kicking some jiu-jitsu ass to even realize my period had come and gone . . . twice.

Shark Girl Takes it to the MD
            I know, I know, you are all worried about my poor thumb right now. Sleep tight, I took good care of it. I made a homemade splint out of medical tape and a Popsicle stick. I wore it around for a couple of days (because it looked totally cool) before taking it to the professionals. Nothing showed up on the x-ray. Dr. Ortho thinks I sprained the ligament. The sprain is in a weird place—the first joint down from the nail and on the side of the finger. He gave me four to six weeks for recovery and said my homemade splint was “overkill.” He said if I felt uncomfortable leaving it unprotected, I could just wrap some Coban around it. And, like a good Shark Girl I said, “Is there anything I should wear for jiu jitsu?” I got a nice splint and a funny look.

Apparently Shark Girl needs to get injured to know when the dot is coming.

Oh, and Estrogen-Induced Injuries are for reals.


  1. Interesting. I sprained my thumb drilling posturing in guard. My physiotherapist made me realize that it was because of the loosey goosey/weak ligaments in my wrist. (My wrist buckled, and so my whole body caved over my thumb.) She then told me that it would be worse when I'm pregnant and that I should wear wrist braces, which I thought was strange. But I guess it's legit. I can't say I would "baby my joints", however!

    BTW, I fricken love sassy gay friend!! My favourite is Ophelia.

  2. Very interesting...I just got a case of turf toe a week before my last cycle. Same as bruising, no serious pain, kept rolling albeit protectively. A month later and I still can't run.

  3. @Ashley: SGF rules!!!!!

    @Megan: Your turf toes was before your cycle? Interesting. We should do a "study" of bjj ladies and when they get their injuries.

  4. "And, like a good Shark Girl I said, “Is there anything I should wear for jiu jitsu?” I got a nice splint and a funny look."

    -I've seen that "funny look" before! LOL.
    -My family has some weird genetic anomoly called "Familial Loose Joint Syndrome". We are all super flexible. However, me, the only girl was prone to more joint dislocations and subluxations than my brothers. Most of them happen the week before my period. During a time of painful frustration, I contacted THE medical expert, Dr., and did some research... Then, I did some actual research and the real docs, (not Dr GOOGLE) all said the same thing you did. I like the way you explained it better. ;-)

    -BTW, When I first started training with the guys at my gym I explained the loose joint thing to them. They didn't quite understand at first. They said, tap when it hurts. Then, they realized that some submissions don't hurt me... Now that they understand, they do nice little things that keep me from getting hurt. They will tell me, this is where you should tap. when I roll with a new guy, one of them will watch out for me. They've told guys before, "Hey, dude, she doesn't feel that. Move on to something else."

    -Hugzies!!! I hope your thumb gets better fast!

  5. Thanks for the Hugz! They must be working because it's starting to feel better! It's very sweet how your dudes watch out for your lax ligaments. I guess I'm going to have to start plotting the ol' hormone-meter and try to prevent some ligament injuries.

  6. If you pay attention when you are stretching, you will notice the days that you are more "stretchy". Those are the days you may want to tap a little early and/or roll with higher level guys.

  7. Oh crap, at least the last two times my elbow's popped has been the same point in the cycle.

    Thanks for pointing this out.

    @Jodi (aka CombatSports...) my guys tell me when I should tap to some things too. Mostly armbars, americanas and kimuras; my elbows give long before I feel any pain. My joints seem pretty loosely attached.

  8. We were practicing knee bars today and I swear I would not have tapped until injured on them. I didn't feel a thing, only some discomfort in my calf. We need to get the word out on LLS (Ladies Ligament Syndrome)!

  9. I have weird flexible joints too. It is true that something can be stretched badly at a certain time and then only hurt later. You only realise that you have been injured much, much later. It may also have something to do with the way women process adrenaline? I remember reading on a sociobiology site once that estrogen slows production of adrenaline but also slows the absorption/processing of it. So women will stay wound up longer after a single stimulus. Women may need better long-term endurance than men for a reason important to the species. I am sidelined with a few injuries now (bad painting of hound with huge eyes with tear rolling down that you might have seen at Goodwill in the 1970s). Was training merrily along popping codeine and trying to figure out which ones to ignore/train through and which ones not to (wrist, jammed fingers, a couple other things), then got a couple more on top of those that turned out to actually be more serious, went to doc and he said "time. off.". So now I have to figure out how to keep the mats. For a couple months. :( This blows big purple hairy blanketyblanks.

  10. So sorry you are sidelined. Not a fun place to be. That's interesting about the adrenaline. Wonder how that affects our bjj.

    Just the other night my partner was trying to wrist lock me. He stretched and stretched. I felt nothing. Finally I tapped because I was afraid he would snap my wrist and I still wouldn't feel anything. I said, "Just so you know, I didn't tap because it hurt." He said, "Yeah, right." : )


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