“If only we’d known how important this is when we were in our 20s.”
Wise words from my pilates teacher on Wednesday morning, as we talked about how good moving and stretching actually feels. If only indeed…
Why has it taken me so long to work out that the only way to keep my body moving is to keep moving it?
Nothing prepared me for my own joint pain and stiffness
As a menopausal woman; successful and busy therapist; lover of long walks and wildlife; regular gig-goer and generally active person, it came as a shock to me a year or so ago when I couldn’t bend, stretch, stand and walk as well as I used to. Back pain became a recurring issue as well as neck and shoulder tightness and general aches and pains pretty much everywhere. Everyone knows about the hot flushes and mood swings, but nothing had prepared me for the joint pain and stiffness.
As a therapist I’ve always believed in the importance of receiving regular treatments. It’s undeniable that regular Reflexology has helped with my hot flushes and mental well-being; Massage has helped with the aches and pains associated with the amount of work my upper body has to do when I’m treating clients, and Osteopathy has worked wonders on my back; but I don’t want to go through the rest of my life feeling like I need to be put back together again all the time. I want the treatments I have to feel like they’re building on a position of strength and fine tuning something that’s already in pretty good nick.
Finally, at the age of 50, I discovered the joy of movement
I’ve always had a rather uneasy relationship with exercise. I love walking, but generally prefer to do it with someone else. I love swimming, but pretty much want the pool to myself or I find myself getting lane rage. I tried running, but was always too worried about falling over. I joined a gym, but it was too far away for me to get motivated enough to go.
Just over a year ago, my dear friend Stephanie Green opened We Are Wellness in Headingley (you should go by the way. It’s excellent) and I wanted to support her as much as I could in the early days, so every time she said “we have this class. You should go”, I gave it a whirl.
As a result I’ve become a huge fan of pilates (and am growing increasingly fond of yoga too). I do at least one class a week and have a yoga mat in the cupboard outside my therapy room, which I drag out to do a few sun salutations and stretches when I have a spare half hour. I no longer have to sit down or lean against a wall to put on my underwear (a common benchmark, apparently). I can walk downstairs every morning with much less joint stiffness. I can easily reach down and touch my toes. I can put my shoes on without sitting or holding on to something.
My own personal experience has taught me that as nice as ‘being done to’ is, there’s no substitute for ‘doing’. It really is a case of “use it or lose it!”.