OMG I Hurt All Over: Are the Physical Complaints of Old Age Inevitable?
Lower back, large thigh muscles, back of my neck.
Okay, so I’m 66. This is to be expected right?
Reach for the pain pills, right?
My body is barking at me because right now I haven’t worked out for about four days. Three of them, or thereabouts, were spent crammed into tinky tiny United Airlines steerage seats, rendered immobile. Then long waits for layovers.
I haven’t had a damned good sweaty workout for four days.
And my body is letting me have it. It’s ROYALLY PISSED.
This is how it should be.
In an ideal world, our bodies express their displeasure when we start getting lazy. This is due to a regular exercise program which keeps our joints lubricated as well as our sense of humor, as well as our digestive system, as well as our noggins. All of which are closely connected.
My bodybuilder BF, who is 49, gets horribly sore from sitting all day. He’s a code jockey, and his fourteen plus daily hours online are murder for his body. He takes breaks, but nowhere near enough of them. So it is with all of us, especially those of us past sixty.
As part of my preparation for the trip up Mt. Kenya (the drive to Nairobi begins tomorrow from Arusha, Tanzania), I have hiked nearly 80,000 steps both with and without a backpack, run endless miles, did hours and hours of body building, run laps at my pool (yes run, not swim). By now my body expects regular work. When it doesn’t get it, it whines like a four-year-old child who wants chocolate. (oh hell so do I)
At this age I sport a broad variety of injuries. If I don’t keep moving I’ll freeze up. That’s how most people feel, then they pop pills to reduce the pain. I most certainly feel pain, but that pain is almost immediately alleviated when I work out. Walk, run, hike, lift, ride. Makes no difference.
The payoff is that my body wants to stay in motion. When I am stuck in a tiny airline seat it’s agonizing. It takes a while to get my yoga moves back, but they come, with all the relief that they offer cascading down my spine and through my limbs like a healing river.
Most of us want the easy way out. It’s hard to develop a challenging (for us) program which will continue to keep us happy and healthy. However, the alternative sucks.
Those who have begun regular walking, or yoga, or running, or cycling can attest. Miss a day, no prob. Miss three or four and you by god feel it. Especially as we age. The body needs more maintenance now rather than less, more work to keep us limber and powerful.
Not pain pills.
While there are days, and I have them too, when a couple of Tylenol take the edge off an injury, for the most part if I get my carcass outside and start moving, or slip a yoga DVD into the player and get after it, the pain subsides.
Happy body. Efficient body.
Each of us needs to find what works for us. For me, given my habit of doing ridiculously dangerous things, I have to put in the time. For others, a daily commitment of 30 minutes or so does the job.
A pill? or push yourself out the door?
One is an invitation to a downward spiral. The other, a wide open door to the rest of your life.
At this juncture and with my plethora of injuries, I can’t go back. There is no relief from all the damage I’ve done. In some ways I’ve painted myself into a corner.
Exercise or be crippled.
Thanks, I’ll take the exercise. The pills can cripple me even more than the pain.
As they currently do for millions of older Americans.
Freedom looks like movement. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I can’t wait to start hiking. I’ve got one more day in the car (augh) but after that we are heading up 17,000 feet. I’ll be tired, but boy will I feel good.