So why bother differentiating them at all? Well, because with any physical movement there is the potential for booboos. Ridding a bike, especially for the first time in a season, can lead to some saddle soreness. New to volleyball? Then the ball may leave red marks and bruises on your arms. Running or hiking can leave blisters on your feet. Not to mention any physical exercise can leave you feeling stiff the next day. There can also be more than that. Maybe you trip while walking and scrape your knee. Maybe you are dancing and accidentally step on your partner's foot. There are accidental booboos and ones that are naturally part of the activity. Acro is no exception. Acro has many of those same issues. If you fly you may get redness or bruising on your hips and shoulders at first, like the volleyball player's arms. As a base you may get sore legs, you are holding someone in the air with them. As we learn new things we often over engage or grab. I've had plenty of little round bruises from grabbing fingers, not to mention small cuts and scrapes from finger nails. Maybe you get small petechiae (small red spots on the skin) as a base or flyer from the pressure of someone else on that body part. All of these things are normal while doing acro. I often mention them in my classes to people, especially people when first starting. They are having so much fun they often don't notice and then at home the next day they see small bruises or redness on the hips and think ... ooo that isn't good when its completely normal.
I had lunch earlier this summer with a triathlete and another acro friend. We were talking about all of the small round bruises we had from acro and laughing about it. The triathlete commented "why would you do it if you get all of these bruises? that doesn't seem right.". I was startled a bit by it coming from an such an intense activity person. I then asked her, don't you ever get bumps and scrapes in your races? or maybe swallow some water you rather didn't? Or even just get some blisters? I never get blisters or swallow bad water from doing acro! Only then did she get it. For some reason her booboos were just part of the sport but the acro booboos were troublesome. Its all in the perspective. As we get better at the practice then we are less likely to have some of those booboos, just like the triathlete will likely swallow less bad water. These sorts of booboos can scare people away from an acro practice. We have this concept that we shouldn't feel bad or have booboos in any way, yet its a normal part of any physical activity.
There are however accidents. Certainly you see more than enough of them on youtube when people try acro without any instruction. Still even with proper instruction they can happen. Just last night I was teaching a class. After class one of my students asked for some help with some high standing acro moves. I was tired, I'd just taught two acro classes that night, but I still agreed. we had plenty of spotters and I'd done the move many many times before. I did it first with my regular partner to show the skill, then I did it with her. It was our first time doing it together but we didn't rush and went through it slow. However during the move we bumped heads. She got a nasty bump on the chin and my nose caught the rest. It didn't look too bad but it lead to a bloody nose, which looks worse than it often is. The next day we both felt it and had some nice bruising to go with it. I likely shouldn't have tried it given how tired I was and that she was new to the move. However I'd done it so many times in the past. Yes it could have been avoided but I also could've tripped on the way out of class and ran into a wall with the same effect. Accidents can happen. Its because we were so careful that it only resulted in booboos. Yes I consider those booboos because after a minute my nose stopped bleeding and it really hasn't caused us to stop any physical activity. We spot and use lots of precaution to do our best to avoid booboos but especially injuries. I've had bloody noses from acro before, and bloody lips, a black eye, and this list goes on. I don't let those booboos scare me away. I will likely take just that extra amount of caution next time I do that move but I won't stop doing it. I think its because of some of these booboos acro can get a bad rap. Perhaps because it has "yoga" in the name people get more shocked, however I've seen many of the same booboos in regular yoga. I had a student drop a block on their face and get a black eye. Another was doing forearm stand and got a bloody nose when then came down on their face. Any physical activity can have booboos and I think its a great topic to bring up and talk about in class. We try to avoid the ones we can and lessen the ones we can't but they do happen, its normal, and we shouldn't stop our practice because of it.
Unfortunately more serious injuries can also happen. I'm not going to get into the reasons or the why's of it, rather I want to put it all in some context. As with any movement or sport, the more we know, the more we prepare, and the more precautions we take the less injuries we will have. Make sure you have a spotter or two or three for a move. No spotters around? Maybe you wait until there are to do it. Maybe you have a crash mats. Maybe you have crash mats and spotters. Maybe you take a class or learn from someone more experienced. You always move slowly and methodically through new movements. You take into account your energy levels and your strength and be honest with yourself while still challenging yourself. All of those are great practices to have. Still even with every precaution taken injury can happen. It really stinks when it does but should we blame the activity? Was it instead something we could have prevented? If we did everything we could to prevent and it still happened, it still stinks but its part of life. I had a friend step on a stair wrong with her foot and break her ankle. She was just going to the basement to check the laundry. I've also seen someone break an arm trying to do a standing back flip on their own. I tore the rotator cuff in my shoulder when my base dropped me from star and our spotter had buggered off on us mid pose. I also tore my hamstring tendon and developed a chronic tear because I was pushing myself too hard doing yin yoga and acro. I was literally tearing my body apart over time. It took a concentrated year to heal from that injury. I didn't stop doing acro or yin. I just re-assessed where my body's balance was. At the same time I did what I needed and took the time I needed to heal properly. The very real fear of never being able to do the things I loved scared me into doing the right thing for my body. Now I'm healed and much more aware and still able to enjoy all my activities while always keeping in mind my body's balance.
So don't let the booboo's scare you away. Booboo's happen. We do our best to reduce and prevent them but we don't need to let them scare us away from something we enjoy. Sometimes they can be a blessing as they make us slow down a little and think a little more. So if you take an acro class and you have a couple booboo's don't let it scare you. We've all been right where you are. A sore hip, or even a bloody nose doesn't mean there will be more injury. If you aren't certain though? Ask about it. Is your group being as safe as it could? Ask another acro person, in person or on the web. Maybe its something you can prevent, or maybe you did everything right and sometimes accidents still happen. It never hurts to talk about it and it never hurts to ask questions and explore answers. When I talk about fear or the positive side of facing fear, courage, I'm always reminded of a quote from Nelson Mandella: "I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the the triumph over it." Don't let fear get to you, find your triumph over it!