Pumping Irony

Craig Cox, EL’s director of business operations and resident geezer, explores the joys and challenges of aging well.

Posts Tagged hip flexors

Experience Life Magazine

In Recovery

I hit the gym after work on Friday, but instead of ambling over to the resistance machinery, as I’ve doing in the weeks since I began mixing up my exercise routine, I grabbed a kettle bell and a couple of dumbbells and cranked out my old morning routine: squats, lunges, girevoy. Two days later, I’m having some difficulty accessing objects located below my knees.

It’s my own fault, of course. The machines at the club do not really replicate the lower-body workout you can get with free weights. And it’s a lesson, really, that I should’ve learned a long time ago: Once you stop working certain muscles, the next time you do, you’re going to pay. It’s called delayed onset muscle soreness, a common result of doing physical things your body is not accustomed to doing.

The other takeaway, though, is actually more important. And slightly depressing. The older I get, the longer it takes for my body to recover from my mistakes. It doesn’t express itself when bicycling, as MLW and I did on Saturday (a modest 7 miles), but this morning when I reached for my mat and bench for a little morning zazen, my hip flexors and glutes protested vigorously.

But, rather than push through the stiffness and pain, as I would’ve done in my younger days, I listened carefully and left my kettle bell alone. As the folks at My Generation explain:

Veteran athletes tend to have a sixth sense about their bodies, knowing how long they need to recover from common ailments like ankle sprains, knee pain, back pain and shin splints. Despite the body’s remarkable ability for recovery, it’s not immune to aging, and that recovery time will increase as the body ages. Whereas a sprained ankle might once have been as good as new after a few days or rest, aging athletes must recognize that the same ankle sprain now might require more recovery time. Returning too quickly from an injury can only make things worse for aging athletes, so don’t push yourself.

It is, of course, really easy to find a reason not to work out on a Sunday morning, and the line between injury and indolence can often seem a bit blurry. But, for geezers like me, at least, it always seems prudent to err on the conservative side.

That’s part of the general protocol for aging athletes, which includes taking the time to warm up properly before your workout (does 20 minutes on the Elliptical Death Machine count?), focus on increasing your flexibility (yoga? check), and keep lifting weights (yup). All these things will help you stay fit throughout your time in Geezerville. It’s just that sometimes, like me, you might need a reminder.

Experience Life Magazine

The Handyman Workout

Well, last week wasn’t really ideal for making my tennis debut. Rain and wind and cold kept most sane people off the courts, and when the clouds finally departed on Sunday, I found myself spending most of the day catching up on various household projects, the result of which is this terrific functional fitness circuit workout. The trick is to move directly from one exercise to the next — except as noted.

Carpet Pull
Sitting cross-legged at the base of any stairwell featuring stained and smelly carpeting, reach forward with a hammer or other suitable tool in your right hand and, maintaining the natural arc in your lower back, pry the lower end of the foul textile from its moorings at the base of the stairs.

Rising onto your right knee with your tweaky left knee bent at an uncomfortable angle, yank the offending carpet from right to left until it comes free from the riser.

Bring your complaining left knee into an upright position and, bending over at about a 90-degree angle, pull the lousy rug from its staples on the step.

Repeat 13 times.

Cool down by ever-so-slowly prying up the hundreds of recalcitrant staples and nails that some resolute carpet-layer used on the stairs that you now discover don’t look all that much better than the carpet did.

Mower Push
Drag your ancient reel mower out of the garage and position it amid the 8-inch-long grass in your back yard. Holding the handle of your mower at about belt level, fire your glutes, hip flexors and core to power the primitive machine through the unyielding lawn. Try to maintain a steady pace, but if you find yourself stymied by a particularly lush portion of the yard, take a deep breath, pull the mower back from the knot of grass with your upper arms and shoulders as you move in reverse, then, rising onto your toes, explode into a modified sprint to power through the morass.

Perform two circuits, one east to west, one north to south.

Cool down by scanning the hardware store ads for a gas-powered lawn mower.

Gutter Lunge/Downspout Squat
Using a dead-lift move, elevate your aluminum extension ladder from its place on the floor of the garage. Then transport it to the front yard using a series of lunges, taking care not to knock over the bird bath or alarm your neighbors. Rotate the ladder from a horizontal to vertical position by engaging your core belief in a higher power and then lift and balance the ladder while taking tiny steps through your wife’s prized tulips. Taking a measured breath, lower the ladder onto the uneven, slightly squishy ground and position the top against the shiny new gutters that you purchased last summer in the hope that they would keep your basement dry. Steadying the ladder and mindfully reviewing your current life insurance coverage, engage your hamstrings and climb up to the edge of the roof to find that the scrawny fir trees you’ve never really liked have deposited a few hundred pounds of needles into the gutters over the winter. While silently invoking the spirit of the late Max McGee, reach as far as you can to your left and right, scooping the fecund muck from the gutters and dropping it to the ground below.

Descend back to earth with gradual, thankful steps. Grab the garden hose and ascend once again, taking care to avoid whacking your wife’s prized tulips with the hose. Wash down the gutters, reaching farther than is prudent to force the residual shingle gravel into the downspout. Note with some despair that the gush of water seems to be more pronounced at the final bend of the downspout than at its opening.

Descend once again with hose in hand and an eye toward the tulips. Hold a deep squat for the time it takes you to remove the several dozen screws holding the downspout together, scoop out the blockage and reassemble the whole contraption. (Note: It may be advisable to carry a cell phone during this exercise, in case you require some assistance to unfold from your squat.)

Repeat four times.

Cool down by watching the ballgame in your dry basement with the beverage of your choice. Maybe two. Then, maybe a nap.