I go to the gym pretty much every other day.
A few days ago, I was trying to do some leg raises – not normally a problem. But this time – I couldn’t lift them at all, and trying to do it caused a pain in the middle of my back. Not good!!
Some background – seven years ago I needed to have a hysterectomy. As part of the pain management for the operation I was given an epidural. I had pain at the site for quite a long time – at least a year. The pain was worst if I tried to stand up really straight, or tried to stretch up high for example to get something out of a high cupboard.
This pain when I tried to raise my legs was in exactly the same place. Not low down like ‘normal’ back ache, but further up. And as soon as I stopped trying to raise my legs, the pain stopped – again, it wasn’t continuous like normal backache. It was very localised – you could point to the spot with the end of one finger.
It’s possible that it was caused by tyre flipping. It’s a new exercise that we’ve started to do at the gym – flip a tyre over and over, then turn round and flip it back again. It was a flipping big tyre – but I could do it. Proud of that. Very proud.
But maybe I shouldn’t have…
So anyway – I rang the physio. These aches and pains aren’t an inevitable part of getting older.
I went to see the physio. He asked me to stand in front of a full-length mirror and touch my toes. No problem. In fact I can touch the floor with my fists. No pain.
He then asked me to cross my arms over my chest and lean back as far as I could. Yowch!!! That did it. I’m sure physios get more enjoyment from that yowch moment than they should.
Onto the couch, and predictably he asked me to raise my legs. Couldn’t do it. Just the effort of trying to do it was enough to make my back hurt. Fair enough.
Over on to my front, and he set to work. He pressed down one side of my spine – did that hurt? Well yes, but only because you’re pressing it so hard… He pressed down the other side of my spine – did that hurt? Well, actually, not so much. He knows what needs to be done at this point, and sets to work.
We always set the world to rights when he’s working on me – by the time he’d finished, we’d ended the Coronavirus pandemic, closed the pubs and got the kids back to school, and overthrown the government.
He got me to lie on my back again, and attempt the leg raises. Success – a couple of inches off the couch. No pain. Fabulous.
He showed me some exercises to do – basically ‘entry level’ leg raises, with the knees bent so I’m not stressing my back too much. Warm up by lifting each leg in turn, then do the bent-leg version. Over time start to extend the legs, so long as it’s not hurting. I will, of course, do the exercises.
Should I continue to go to the gym? (I’m booked on a session this evening) – yes, just don’t do the full leg-raises for a while. And ditto stay off the tyre flipping for a bit (well, flip a smaller tyre). But don’t stop moving. Moving is good. And work towards being able to do the leg raises and the tyre flipping again.
I love that he never once made me feel that a woman my age shouldn’t have been flipping a tyre in the first place. I love that he sees no reason why I shouldn’t be able to do it again, so long as I do the exercises he’s given me, and work back up to it sensibly.
You don’t stop because you get old – you get old because you stop.
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