I’m getting better at that as I get older — listening to my body’s assorted creaks and pops and acknowledging that I don’t have to finish everything I start in a single day. It’s like that Clint Eastwood line in Magnum Force: “A man needs to know his limitations.”
My current limitations include a strained right elbow and an annoying stiffness in my left shoulder, along with my normally creaky knees. So, today I’m in recovery, an aspect of the whole fitness equation that sometimes gets lost in the shuffle as we race toward our various goals.
My preferred approach to recovery — which I utilized to great effect a couple of times this past weekend — is to sprawl on the couch, cold beer in hand, ballgame on the tube. Fitness experts, I suspect, do not recommend this. And, in fact, there’s only so much couch time I can take before I get antsy. So, I’m thinking that more of an “active” recovery is in order — the type Kara Douglass Thom describes in this EL piece from a few years ago:
“Active recovery involves participating in an alternative fitness regimen that won’t exacerbate the injury, and may or may not include continuing your primary activity at a low level of intensity for short durations. This healing regimen is sound physically — it aids recovery by stepping up the blood oxidation process to the injured area — and also important psychologically.”
Thom, a triathlete, is writing about how she recovered from a specific injury, which it seems to me is more straightforward (albeit more painful) than my current condition — overall soreness and a few isolated problem areas. But her larger point applies to all situations: By getting off the couch and doing a little lifting or a bit of yoga, you get the blood moving around in a helpful way.
I’m all for moving around on recovery days, but I’m thinking, like, water aerobics or something. And it’s tough to find specific routines for older guys like me. What you tend to run across are routines designed for ubër-fit studs like Mike Mahler. Here’s his breezy little kettlebell routine for recovery days:
• Two-arm swings (1 x 10)
• Windmill (1 x 5 with each arm)
• Clean and push press (1 x 5 with each arm)
• Snatch (1 x 10 with each arm)
• Hack squat (1 x 10 with each arm)
• Turkish get-up (1 x 5 with each arm)
• Kettlebell pass between legs (1 x 30 seconds)
Puh-lease. I’d need another week just to recover from that recovery.
So, I guess I’ll just wander down to the gym after work and reacquaint myself with my old friend, the Elliptical Death Machine, and then see what else strikes my fancy. Something’s better than nothing, after all. So long as you know your limitations.