Recently we had a minor run in with a middle-aged couple helping their mother/mother-in-law with walking into a restaurant. We had pulled up to a convenience store and blocked the better part of the point on the sidewalk where there was a smoothed out edge for a ramp effect rather than the curb lip. In our defense the ground was covered with snow and just being back in Ottawa we hadn’t frequented the location and didn’t realize the situation. Full truth be told we were hurrying so possibly closer inspection…anyway the point is we happened to do so just as this couple was bringing their elderly mother towards the curb. They weren’t pleased and were waving at us from outside our windows and we rolled them down and found out the situation and moved. They were gruff with us and though slightly embarrassed we discussed our predicament as objectively as we could.
What stood out to me was their behaviour suggested that we should have known the ramp section was there. Now we are all for easy access especially where the case of modified ability is an issue and I suppose when you are strong, agile and fit it is too easy to forget that not everyone enjoys the same level of function. The situation of course brought thoughts of our own mothers both of who in there mid 70’s have had, and have, walking and stability issues. This is something we hope to be able to work with them on but business and family can be touchy at the best of times. The fact is it is tough to see your own having difficulties with basic function – especially when most of it was/is preventable.
Here is the possibly controversial issue – we think that it was great this couple had this lady out and about and were helping her walk and enjoy moving around outside. The issue is we tend to think they should be helping this woman step up on to a curb rather than relying on a ramp. Life is full of steps and that she can walk is a blessing. Perhaps it is inappropriate to nit pick this incident but to us the devil is in the details. Making any and all physical tasks easier is a modern disaster and has led to a culture of humans who can and do live longer but are robbed of quality of life.
The number of mature people we see with knee and hip replacements, spinal/joint weakness/pain as well as problems with simple basic standing and walking is just plain wrong. When you spend your life going back and forth from plenty of sitting to suddenly standing and moving the joints get worn out, we are designed to move about far more than we do. This coupled with an almost epidemic of age related sarcopenia (muscle) loss http://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/sarcopenia-with-aging has promoted a society full of people who suffer everyday with just basic tasks. This is a prime example of cumulative injury where time and repeated small physical insults add up to a difficulty as serious as any catastrophic accident could cause (interestingly similar to exercising too much as when trying to exercise away a bad diet).
It is disturbing, especially with our own families, to see quality of life…a life well-earned, deteriorate so drastically into ones golden years. A few years back one of our mothers took a bad fall on her birthday of all times while headed into a concert as part of her celebration. She was out in her winter boots for one of the first times in the season and was trying to step up on to a curb. She was inside a parking garage so the ground was clear. But not being used to the boots and with weak knees, she caught her toe stumbled and fell with her hand out to try to catch herself. To add further insult her shoulder broke as it broke her fall and months of mending and recovery followed. For the sake of brevity we won’t speculate on whether her shoulder would have been less damaged if it didn’t suffer from the same degradation as her knees… it may very well have been sore but otherwise ok. Maybe it was all just an accident but our experience says no, this type of thing is negated or at the least dramatically minimized through simple careful exercise practice. She didn’t need a ramp though it would have been nice, what would have been a lot nicer would have been more basic strength.
It bothers us that in 2015 so many don’t realize that strength training IS the fundamental of health and fitness. If you lose your strength everything else follows and medicine places far too much importance on cardiovascular health. Strength training makes strong bones, strong joints and agile muscles AND these properly toned muscles place MORE draw on your cardiovascular system every minute of everyday thus…well you get the point.. You are your frame and muscles and everything depends on it especially your quality of mobility and thus a big part of your quality of life. Additionally, strength training is your best way to address arthritic conditions. Being relatively pain-free and solving any and all mobility, not to mention balance issues, is key to living out a rich life. At least in our estimation.
On the cusp of opening the doors to our new Ottawa based Nautilus Body Clinic we hope not just for general client interest and success but for the chance to change things like this issue. We certainly want to be busy and marketable but we already were. We were already working full-time for years flooded with clients and opportunity. We are building this clinic to build an opportunity not just to thrive financially but to see our skills and commitment reach those for who such a minor addition could change everything. Looking at this government data there is a serious lack of focus being directed towards investigating base strength and balance between muscle groups in the 65+ demographic: http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/seniors-aines/publications/public/injury-blessure/seniors_falls-chutes_aines/index-eng.php#s2-1
It is simply too common that we lose strength little by little and our bodies wear down so that in time we shy away from the type of actions we lose confidence in. This begets further discomfort (physically and emotionally) in mobility actions and see’s us reducing these activities ever more over time. Avoidance is the worse thing for physical fitness and accelerates loss of function. Regardless of your situation it can always be improved through proper exercise and especially with careful strength training practice. Even if you never have the time or inclination to meet with us please keep watch because we will always address these fundamentals with plenty of solid info on how to help yourself be and remain mobile.
Until next time, be well and live strong,