For those wondering, parkour is a.... well it depends who you ask. Discipline, sport, method of training that focuses on the overcoming of obstacles in a fluid and efficient manner. It includes a lot of different things. Here's a delightful video if you're curious.
Last year I was plagued with back pain due to endlessly standing hunched over my drawings, laboring over straight lines, and even though there's a gym at school, I always felt like I simply didn't have the time to utilize it. The architecture program assigns a pretty healthy amount of homework, and all of it is intensely time consuming. Before school, I did a physically demanding job, and between that and knowing where the spots were to do a quick little bit of training, I kept in pretty good shape and had managed to banish all of the aches and pains that had been plaguing me for years. Last year, I spent my life sitting on trains, sitting in classes, and sitting or standing while doing homework, and never training because I was either on my way to a train or class, too tired, or didn't know where I could go to find obstacles at my level. As a result, my back pain returned, along with the tightness in my shoulders and neck, and occasional knee pain.
People who aren't familiar with Parkour and all the work and conditioning that goes into it think that it's just crazy kids doing crazy stunts that will more than likely get them seriously hurt. I have found that it's exactly to opposite, for all kinds of reasons. Training your body to deal with all kinds of physical situations mitigates the risk of being in those situations, but more importantly for me, the training itself makes all my aches and pains go away.
It's really counter-intuitive. How could a high impact activity like parkour make you hurt less? Shouldn't it make your muscles sore? Shouldn't your knees and ankles hurt from all that jumping? Before I started training, and shortly after, I would have answered yes. In the beginning my body was so horribly unaccustomed to this sort of activity that I was constantly nurturing some strained body part, even though I'd spent the winter previous conditioning and building all the muscles I could think of. Getting over this hump, however, revealed a world to me in which I felt capable and agile, and more importantly, the constant pain I had been learning to live with was absent.
I am not a physical therapist or any kind of scientist, so I can only hypothesize in the uninformed, anecdotal kind of way, but I am guessing it has something to do with the whole-body movements involved. When I'm lifting weights, I'm working biceps, or triceps, or hamstrings, or whatever. When I'm performing a simple broad jump, however, I'm using muscles from my feet all the way up to my neck. When I'm performing movements that require me to twist, leap, and balance, every muscle I possess is involved and getting necessary exercise, exercise they don't get in a life of sitting and standing, walking and bending.
Every body is different, but my body needs this sort of activity to function. I know this, because after just a couple sessions of reintroducing myself to Parkour, my back pain has disappeared. Oh yes, muscles have screamed out in rage at being neglected and then suddenly called upon, but not in the way where they're injured. They've been woken and are angry that they were neglected. Two days is all they need calm down.
Today I hope to train again. I have been easing into it, and I hope I can keep it up. I like feeling good, and not having pain. I missed that lightness on my feet, that confidence in my environment.