The inch long scar on my left calf from a rough game of seaweed wars. The two off white circles on my left index finger from playing defense at a Cal lacrosse camp. The ones on my palms that can only be seen when it’s cold from falling on a run home. The three on my left forearm from that cigarette butt. The one in my belly button from my emergency appendectomy. The four straight lines on my thigh from falling through a rotten deck on the Oregon coast. The countless ones around my ankles from sloppy rushed shaving jobs. My fractured eardrum from diving into our California swimming pool, not noticing my sister and her surprisingly hard head in the way. The fifteen or so overlapping scars on my knees from turf burns, hiking, and falling purely out of clumsiness. The one on my left foot from a beer bottle the summer before my sophomore year of college. My two knotted bumps on my ankles that have been sprained for almost four years. And my meniscus that is now missing in my right knee; if I don’t crack it to move the bone every thirty minutes or so it locks up.
Our skeletal muscle is the largest single organ of the human body and accounts for nearly 50% of the body’s weight. We put this organ through some of the toughest challenges. We can feel our ATP pumping through our body, replenishing tired muscles. Muscles work through an anaerobic and aerobic cycle. When we are sprinting up and down, digging into the grass to ask for the ball, we switch into our anaerobic cycle. When this begins our oxygen flow to our muscles is cut off, causing us to heave, grip our thighs for that extra gulp, and eventually get those aching muscles that make even walking to the bathroom a challenge. We breathe in, and the oxygen is distributed through our blood into the capillaries and cells. Oxygen would be toxic to our body if we didn’t have specialized organelles to put it to use, instantly throwing other atoms on it to make oxygen in our body useful. What makes a body push through everything? How have we been trained to fight through pain, add stories to our injuries, and still be on the playing field fighting a war with our own joints?