PUMPING IRONY: Backsliding

A little back pain shouldn’t keep me from lifting heavy objects, should it?

vintage strongman photo
This is good for you. Just watch your back.

I tweaked my back a couple weeks ago after a too-ambitious round of kettlebell swinging, and I’m still feeling the effects today. I don’t expect any sympathy, though, seeing as how I took my aching back to the golf course later that day and played 18 holes (dumb, I know, but I had a tee time and a foursome) and then, five days later, when I could barely drag myself out of bed as a result of the golfing, I played a set of tennis with The Baseline Machine (dumber, since I really could’ve canceled and avoided the 1-6 drubbing TBM administered). All of which is simply to say: A geezer needs to know his limitations.

So I’ve been trying (with limited success) to avoid lifting heavy objects for the past several days, which is more difficult than you might imagine. It seems that just about everywhere I turn these days there’s something needing to be moved. Yesterday it was junk in the attic, which, like a lot of the stuff that’s bothering my back, didn’t really need to be moved, but I did it anyway, because, well, these things just seem to call to me sometimes. And I keep seeing new research telling me how important it is for old people to lift heavy objects.

What is Sarcopenia?

About one in three folks over 50 suffer from sarcopenia, or loss of muscle mass, according to a study published in Age and Aging, which can affect mobility, energy, and basic functionality. Beginning at age 40, you can lose up to 8 percent of your muscle mass per decade, a rate that increases to 15 percent when you hit 70.

Still, I know I should take it easy, but I’m always weighing the gratification of getting a project done against the resulting pain of having done the project. And there’s always the loss of muscle mass to consider.

I ran into my esteemed yoga teacher yesterday and told her about my bad back. “You haven’t been listening to your body,” she admonished. “Oh, no, I’ve been listening fine,” I replied. “I just haven’t been obeying.”

Tomorrow, I’m thinking I won’t trudge back up to the attic and lug all that detritus out to the trash. Wouldn’t be good for my back. Instead, I’ll climb onto the old Elliptical Death Machine at the gym and squeeze in a little cardio after work. It’s been awhile. Maybe do a little lifting.

, an Experience Life deputy editor, explores the joys and challenges of aging well.

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