Dr. NO…part 2

I completely understand why you want to keep doing the things that cause you pain and injury. But I’m still going to say “no” if I think it’s harmful to you. It’s not a law and you’re not going to get arrested. I’m not going to charge you more money and your insurance company is not going to hold payment on your bills.

I’m just going to remind you that someday you will pay for the injuries past, present and future. In rare and catastrophic cases you may know immediately just how bad you’re going to pay. But in most cases we can fix you up for the time being. You can return to your normal activities and you won’t pay for it for many years. But pay you will.

There are some things we do which may not cause direct and apparent injury, but can contribute to the repetitive injury to our bones and joints. I try convince my patients to modify their activities, especially the ones that don’t matter. If you read my blogs on Be Kind to Your Hands and Be Kind to Your Feet, you’ll know what I’m talking about. There are a lot of things we do on a daily basis which we could really do a different way, with no downside to the quality of our lives. Look at the simple act of opening a jar. We struggle with those darned things and finally it pops open. Why not just knock it against a counter top and use a little rubber pad to gently pop it open. It’s a lot less stressful to your wrist and fingers. And you do it hundreds of times over a lifetime.

How about pill, potato chip and cereal packaging? It’s like they really don’t want you to get at the product. Scissors and box cutters are your friends.

Move heavy pitchers and milk cartons to lower shelves in your fridge.

Are you getting the idea? So the Dr. of No doesn’t have to stop you from doing the things you love to do just yet. Think of each joint, tendon or bone as having a finite amount of stress it can take. Maybe you use all of it up when you dislocate your knee playing football. Maybe you use it up over time when you do squats for exercise. And maybe you get a little more time out of it if you just do limited squats, avoid climbing a lot of stairs and stop high impact exercise after you’re thirty years old. None of us knows the limits of our parts. We can only guess and do what we intuitively think is the right thing.

But our intuition is markedly affected by what we see and hear. We see football players come back to playing football a couple of months after knee arthroscopy so we think it’s a minor thing to have knee surgery and our fifty year-old knee should recover in the same fashion. We see an eighty year-old complete the Boston marathon and so we think we all have the potential to run marathons if we just condition ourselves to that exercise. We read that orthopedic surgeons do surgery to help us get back to doing what we were doing before. We’re told that more exercise is better. Our children get kudos for participating in three sports at one time…and doing it year round!

Think of yourself as you would a vintage car. Exercise your body more gently as you age. Give your body breaks.  More next time…

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