Smart decisions require physical change
By Joe Black | (email@example.com)
I used to play basketball.
Yeah, I know ... a lot of you used to play basketball. But I played up until a couple of months ago and I’m 59 years old.
I love to play basketball. For most of my life, I’ve been what some folks call a “gym rat.”
I would play basketball any day, any time. Indoors or out. Half court, full court, it didn’t matter. I had a standing game at noon on Tuesday and Thursday for 25-plus years and a traditional holiday game that dates back to when my children could barely walk.
At 40, I remember thinking “how cool would it be to still be playing at 50.”
At 50, I thought that it would be great if I could just play until I was 55.
At 55, I decided that I would just play until I couldn’t play anymore.
I love to play basketball so much that for years, it has been how I go to sleep at night. I would imagine myself in a game, cross-over dribble, jump shot, nothing but net.
Fake right, pass to open man for easy lay-up. Jab step, 3-pointer. Drop step and leave ‘em standing. And I never miss.
Somehow, it relaxed me, took my mind off the day’s events. Next thing I knew (or didn’t know), I was asleep.
But I don’t play anymore. Back in the early fall, I was having some stomach problems that forced me to be off ibuprofen for three months. Vitamin-I (ibuprofen) was my friend.
The net result was that without ibuprofen, my joints hurt. Lots of ‘em. Mainly when I played basketball.
So being the mathematician that I am, I figured basketball plus no ibuprofen equals pain, therefore no basketball equals no pain.
So I made the agonizing decision to give up the game that I love. Besides, that joint pain was interfering with my bike riding.
I ask my patients all the time to make smart decisions. Sometimes, it’s little changes.
Sometimes, it’s big ones.
Habits, activities, hobbies, the things we love are hard to give up.
In some cases, we simply need to find a better way to do the same thing. Like flattening your back and bending your knees to pick something up off the floor.
Or instead of setting your briefcase into the back floorboard by lifting it over the seat, you get out of your vehicle to do it.
Tennis elbow can often be fixed by adjusting your stroke mechanics. Golf elbow by adjusting your swing.
Back pain or hand numbness on a bicycle? You need your seat adjusted and a bike fit performed by a pro.
Shin splints from running? You probably need better arch support.
Shoulder pain from throwing? It might be that you need better strength on the back of your shoulder.
But sometimes you just need to avoid the offending activity.
For me, it meant that I just needed to eliminate the jumping and cutting, the constant pounding on my knees that basketball produced.
I will miss it but my body was sending me clear messages. Messages that my brain just couldn’t ignore.
My advice for the day? Sometimes (most times), you’ve just got to listen to your body.
Joe Black, PT, DPT, SCS, ATC is a physical therapist and athletic trainer at Total Rehabilitation and is Manager of Outpatient Rehabilitation for Blount Memorial Hospital. Write to him at (firstname.lastname@example.org)