August 24, 2012

Exercise Can Be a Pain!

This morning "Karen" (yes, her name has been changed to protect her so-called innocence), slowly limping through the fitness center doors, came into my office to chat. Although she looked great (all decked out in her gym strip and ready to go) she moved like an old war veteran (no offense to war vets).  It was obvious, her knee wasn't cooperating with the rest of her body.

What was she doing in the fitness center? She planned to go for a run....that's right....a run. She also mentioned her confusion at the fact that her knee started to kill her after bouncing the tennis ball back and forth the other day. (Um.....I don't suppose it was the repetitive sheer force that lead to that.....????). I said "whaaaaa..?" and she answered by explaining that it was only for 70 minutes so she didn't get why her knee should hurt so much.

Knee replacement, table 2! 

Realizing there was nothing I could say at that moment to help sway her into thinking she really had a knee problem, I walked away. There is nothing you can say to a sleepwalker. The frustration is knowing that someday soon, her knee won't work anymore and her old age will be full of pain and agony (while waiting for the inevitable knee replacement).

I understand the desire to exercise when you love it (or use it as a weight loss tool). I understand the fear of what may happen when we are forced to stop it. BUT, if you intend to be physically active for the rest of your life or if aging well and pain-free is something you are interested must give your body a rest when in pain. Pain is the body's way to telling us there is something out of balance or wrong. If we (the global we) continue to ignore it something bigger WILL happen.

I can't keep track of all the friends and acquaintances I know that are in line for or have had knee replacement and/or shoulder reconstruction surgery. I know one man, who was/ is a sports fanatic, who has had both knees replaced, a shoulder done, and I believe he is waiting for a second knee replacement. Most of my colleagues from my old fitness days are grumbling about this pain or that inflamation. I, myself, have a chronic sacroilliac (fancy for low back) pain that is starting to get in the way.

Is a lifetime of exercise and sport worth all that? It is if you keep a balanced head. A healthy respect for exercise will allow you to exercise for the rest of your life (just like a healthy respect for nachos and red wine). Once you cross the line, your body will make you pay...and pay you will.

It is hard to stop doing something you enjoy...I get that. But the key is looking into the future and thinking long term. Will you be able to continue this sport or exercise into your older age? Will it cause pain or injury down the road? Believe me, a lifetime of pain is something no one why are "we" running with a broken knee now?

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