Boomeritis: Avoid Injuries and Age Gracefully!

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“For America’s baby boomers, a generation weaned on Jack LaLanne, shaped by Jane Fonda videos and sculpted in the modern-day gym, too much of a good thing has its consequences.

Encouraged by doctors to continue to exercise three to five times a week for their health, a legion of running, swimming and biking boomers are flouting the conventional limits of the middle-aged body’s abilities. In the process, they are filling the nation’s operating rooms and orthopedists’ offices.

They need knee and hip replacements, surgery for cartilage and ligament damage, and treatment for tendonitis, arthritis, bursitis and stress fractures. The phenomenon even has a name in medical circles: boomeritis.”

And so starts the New York Times article entitled “Baby Boomers Stay Active, and So Do Their Doctors”.  You can read the rest at New York TImes website.

What the article does not say, but what we would add, is that many injuries come from either exercising incorrectly or by exercising beyond the body’s current capability. If the movement you are doing is aligned and balanced, and if you Body Sense, injury and surgery do not have to be a recurring part of your life. For help with specific injuries, visit our Facebook page for answers from our expert.

At ChiLiving, we don’t believe that healthy exercise needs to land you at the doctor’s office. As a matter of fact, our programs are designed to promote the health and longevity of your whole person … your joints, muscles, heart, mind and spirit.

First of all, most people believe that a workout should stress the muscles and should leave you feeling tired. Only when they have pushed themselves to their limits do many people feel they have gotten a “good” workout. This Western perspective on health and exercise has its nasty consequences.

In ChiRunning and ChiWalking, one of our main themes is mind AND body…not mind over body. Forcing the body and pushing it beyond its capacity is a recipe for injury. When you listen to your body, feel where the energy is stagnant, or where there is tension, pain or tightness, then you can gently work on that part of your body. Armed with the knowledge gained from Body Sensing, you can make appropriate adjustments that will help get the energy flowing there once again.

According to Chinese Medicine and the principles of T’ai Chi, what the body needs is a beautiful balance between core strength (combined with good postural alignment) and relaxed and flexible joints and muscles. When we move with these principles in mind, we move gracefully and with a deep awareness of the source of our strength – the uninhibited flow of chi through our body. Pulling, straining, and overworking tired muscles and misaligned joints is a recipe for pain and injury. Following the principles of ChiRunning and ChiWalking, you can indeed move with grace and ease for a lifetime.

The deeper question is, “What is needed for a body to remain healthy, attractive, and age gracefully?”

Katherine’s mother is a great example. At 82 she looks and acts more like a healthy 65 year old. Her voice is as vibrant as it ever was. She has no pain …anywhere in her body. She plays golf, walks regularly, plays high level bridge three to four times a week. Her mind and body are in fabulous shape.

Her posture is and always has been impeccable. It is something she encouraged with her children. We discuss her posture frequently and how it has impacted her life. Because of always being aware of her posture, she developed strong core muscles, and a good sense of balance. She has had awareness of keeping her posture strong by not letting herself slump. It is part of her practice in her life. Good posture has always been a lifelong practice … something she has always believed in, like going to church and eating plenty of fruits and vegetables. Learn more about posture in Chapter 4 of the ChiRunning book, and Chapter 2 in the ChiWalking book.

She may not have anticipated the results of her good posture, and she was never aware of chi. She did not think about creating a straight pipe with her spine to allow energy to flow. However, she sensed and believed in the importance of good posture and also saw how much better people look who do have good posture. Vanity probably played a part.

That chi, however, has flowed … into her brain, her heart, her joints and her outlook on life.

According to Chinese medicine, pain, injury and illness are all indicators of a blockage or imbalance in one’s energy flow. By getting aligned and with gentle, appropriate movement, the body gains a deep sense of nourishment. Working out should not be about using up and wasting energy, but about nourishing your organs, muscles, joints and brain with fresh, new energy. Physical activity should be focused as much on intake as it is on output. This is the formula for a truly balanced workout.

In the Times article an issue has been presented baby boomers are getting injured at record rates. However, a real solution was not presented. But a solution does exist: get aligned, engage your core, create balance, make a “good” choice, and only move forward when you’ve first taken the previous steps. The Five Mindful Steps of ChiWalking apply to ChiRunning as well as any activity you do.

With awareness and good habits you can move gracefully into your later years without spending your hard earned free time and money at the doctor’s office.

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