Give your body what it needs

Judith Wills / 06 October 2014

After a summer of doing no exercise, Judith's hip and back pain has returned with a vengeance. Please don't take your body for granted, she advises.

And it was all going so well.

Last week I mentioned my two days of walking in Pembrokeshire which left my hips sore but, once home, fired me with the enthusiasm to continue, which I did – for a week or so.

Then I decided to clean the bath, and as I leant over and bent down to reach the base, I felt a searing, scream-inducing pain in my right lower back and the next minute I was on the floor, feeling sick.  The best I could do was slowly crawl into the bedroom and shout for Husband, who had his headphones on so I had to wait until he took them off and came looking for me some hours later.

Six days on, and although I can move around the house very slowly and in pain. I'm stuffed with co-codamol leftover from, so the pack says, 2010, when I was last disabled and discombobulated by many months of hip and back pain after a fall. Four years – and back to where I started, as most of the pain is on the same side and just as bad, as far as I recall, as it was then.

Keep up the fitness

I've still got the exercises the physio Nerys gave me to do back then, but I can't do them as it's too painful, so here I am, pill-ridden, two heatpacks on back, and unable to do much at all. It hurts to sit, to stand, even to lie in bed; I can't pick things up from the floor or do any hoovering or shopping or anything, really, and all but minimal cooking is out of the question.

And of course it's all my own fault. If I hadn't let my exercise go a lot this year, culminating in three months of doing nothing whatsoever due to pressure of work, I'm sure this wouldn't have happened. Use it or lose it, and now I've lost it again and it's not going to be a short journey back to complete back health.

Yes I was very busy for those three months, but was I really so busy that I couldn't find even 20 minutes a day do do some activity? I doubt it. I just didn't bother to make the time.   

I'm only saying, because if you currently have your fitness and can walk, stand, and do everything you want to do, please don't take it for granted.  Do everything you can to stay fit and keep your muscles strong, your joints supple, and your weight reasonable. It's not until you lose it that you realise how very crucial a good, or at least adequate, working body is to almost every aspect of day to day life.  To me, that's actually more important than the other reason to stay fit – to live longer.  

I made the basic error of forgetting to respect my body and failing to give it what it needed – and now it's paying me back.  Be warned.

(Oh and by the way, don't cite me the latest get-out for couch potatoes to hit the headlines; that one about exercise rotting your teeth.  If you've been saying – “if it's a choice between my teeth and my aerobic capacity, I'll choose my teeth any day”, I have to tell you that the research is hardly relevant for most of us - only for people who exercise to extremes. The athletes tested for the major part of the study ran until they were exhausted – not something most of us reading this will be doing.  Also the research study was very small, carried out on just 15 people for one part and 70 for another.  And lastly, other researchers believe the poor state of athletes teeth may simply be due to all those horrendously sweet sports drinks they sip.)


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