Friday, January 24, 2014

Working around the pain.

The past several years I've been working out at the gym on a regular basis.  I've gained energy, muscle mass and dropped some poundage along the way, but it came at a cost.  And I'm not referring to the cost of the gym membership and weekly sessions with a personal trainer.

The real cost for this 50 something is a host of temporarily life altering body aches and injuries that taught me a new kind of commitment - working around the pain.

I actually strained my lats/obliques doing a simple sit-ups during the first few months of my workout journey.  These back muscles run around the sides of the chest. When pulled or strained breathing deep is painful.  Thanks to my trainer, I didn't stop training, she helped me work around the pain until my body repaired itself. I wonder how anyone stays out of the emergency room if they sprained those bad boys, because I only strained mine and I thought I was dying!

I developed achy stiffness in my hands and wrists and managed to work around the pain for several years. I dropped silverware and cooking utensils, but rarely dropped a knife.  Scrubbing floors, raking leaves, cooking, writing, etc. sent me over the edge.  I reluctantly gave up on my elementary teacher perfect penmanship.  I put off writing handwritten thank you notes because my fingers and wrists froze whenever they felt like it; making forming legible letters or creating a neat and flowing cursive impossible. Sometimes I sucked it up and sent out embarrassing chicken scratch notecards in leu of my preferred, yet tacky, texts and emails.

I also found ways to workout with the hand and wrist pain.  I began wearing cool fingerless gloves at the gym to stabilize my wrists and fingers to keep me lifting and moving.  They work wonders and the cool factor was a motivator. I got compliments on them…even at the drugstore or grocery store. Yeah, in those gloves shopping all stinky without make-up after my workout is a fashion statement. 

Two years ago, I developed foot pain.  The ugly bunion on my right foot never hurt until I worked out regularly. I discovered plantar fasciitis is not always just pain in the arch, but is also an excruciating pain running from the outside of the foot near the little toe and up to the ankle.  My tortured feet screamed at me when I even pulled my gorgeous Nike technology dress shoes with the conservative three inch heels out of their cloth bags!

I worked around the foot pain every day.  My feet finally shut up when I caressed them in a new pair of expensive cross trainers with thick socks,  Merrill barefoot technology running shoes, clunky orthopedic dress flats or the sleeker Toms flats.  I got great relief from bi-weekly pedicures. (Do NOT judge me! My manicurist is a miracle worker who keeps me walking and working out.)  I took beginner Yoga classes to balance and stretch barefooted which strengthen my foot muscles, reduced the bunion and its pain as well as eased other miscellaneous body aches and pains. Ahhhhh!  I think zealous over-stretching during Yoga actually caused the plantar fasciitis, but I self-corrected.  I listened to my body, then changed equipment or position at the first sign of foot pain.  All those work arounds helped and I occasionally wore my pretties for a few hours without pain. Hurrah!

Fast forward to this past few weeks and my new challenge - the dreaded rotator cuff pain.  I am not sure if this injury was due to old age, lifting too much weight last week or lugging heavy carry-on bags through airports in Europe and the Middle East on my recent international trip. All I know is rotating my arms, raising them in any direction or lifting anything hurts worse than every other pain listed above and I will get past this.  I've come to realize I will continue to get older, work out, travel and live my life to the fullest with a new kind of commitment…  

I'm working around the pain.


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