10/14 2011

The Land for Those Over 40: Painville

I’ve noticed a recurring theme among friends my age recently. Though at first we are afraid to fess up and admit our new reality, eventually the truth comes out. In a deluge of back and forth banter that sounds like sixth graders trying to outdo one another. The theme?

Body aches and pains and injuries

It’s the type of talk we used to hear from parents and grandparents, conversations which caused us to roll our eyes and say, “Oh, not again!” And now the inevitable is indeed happening to us, though we professed years ago it never would.

There is real value in commiserating with others. It gives us comfort, lets us know we’re not alone in this battle against old age. Together, we’ll never again touch our toes, sit on the ground with our legs crossed, sit at a desk without our back or neck hurting, or get up from that seated position without moans and groans.

For those of you wishing to find comfort in numbers, here are a few reminders of the way things are likely to be.

Accidental injuries. I’m convinced that the worst injuries occur from total accidents, not from activities where you cautiously anticipate impending danger. As much criticism as I get from friends and family over all my running, warning me of all the damage I’m doing to my body from marathons, my worse accident this year was running into a metal pole and bruising a rib while playing tennis. (A close second was tripping over a crack in the sidewalk and falling flat on my face).

According to the doctor, all my exercise helps decrease my chronic back pain. But there’s nothing that he can do to curtail my klutziness.

The unexpected.  Moments before last Sunday’s City of Trees marathon, I stood at the start line anticipating all the pain I’d soon endure in my hip. After all, I’d just been diagnosed with ITBS and was told if I could handle the pain, it wasn’t going to make the injury any worse. Lo and behold, 20 miles into the race, it was knees that almost had me screaming in agony while the ‘ole hip operated like a well-oiled machine.

You may never know what to expect when you’re expecting, but you better expect the unexpected as you grow old.

Need for speed. When I first learned how to ride a mountain bike, I raced along trails without an ounce of fear in the world. If I flipped over the handlebars or fell on a jagged rock, my only worry was scarred legs that detracted from the beauty of my summer dress collection. Now, with a child’s life depending on me, the need for speed has subsided. Not only do I not want to sit on the sidelines, but it was probably time to slow my ass down anyway.

Make haste and slow down. You’ll be glad you did.

Injury. Even without all the crazy accidents or fast rides, you’re more likely to get hurt as you get older. As muscles tighten and shorten, you move more slowly, walk less straight and stiffen more quickly and easily. As flexibility declines, your likelihood for injury increases. Not to mention how much more fragile bones become.

The warm-up and warm-down are no longer nice-to-dos, they are have-to-dos-or-else. That dreaded routine of stretching becomes all the more critical. And watch out the next time you run to get that drop shot on the tennis court – you may have a nice pulled hamstring to show for it. (Believe me, I know).

Recovery. Remember when an injury was a mere blip on the radar screen? If you have children, I’m sure you have noticed how quickly a hurt ankle or abrasion heals. In contract, when you pull a muscle or break a bone, you are out for the season. And maybe even longer.

After you pull that hamstring playing tennis, get ready to embrace the injury all summer long.

Physical therapy. I often say that I spend far more time doing PT than actually running. And though I often question the value of all those monotonous and boring exercises, I’ll never know how miserable I might feel if I didn’t do them at all.

If you have noticed a new ache or pain creeping into your body, it would probably be beneficial to see the pros. It’s better to lift and stretch for prevention’s sake than be out for the duration.

Welcome to Painville. I feel quite certain this is a town I’ll never leave, and I am happy to meet others for a beer at the local pub any time.

Share/Bookmark

Related Posts