The first time I hurt myself was at the ripe age of twenty four. I was with a group of Belgian friends on the annual Easter trip to the forest of Fontainebleau, a climbing area near Paris in France, which is sprinkled with big sandstone boulders. Circuits are marked with different colours, linked to the difficulty of the boulder climbs. It is a lot of fun, especially with a group of friends intent not only on climbing, but also on being merry. The group I was with was a particularly merry one: Some of us wore pajamas on our circuit climb, others like me, ballet outfits and balloons in our hair.
So much fun! The problem I was tackling, on a beautiful round sandstone belly, turned out to be a bit too much for me. Well, no worries. Lovely sand cover on the ground, all you had to do if you could not climb up was to jump off. The sand between my feet looked innocent enough, but just below the surface lurked a slab of rock, waiting for unsuspecting ligaments to elongate just a smidgen too much. The sickening noise of tearing left no doubt as to the outcome. A friend who knew all about joint injuries from playing basketball immersed my ballooning ankle in a bowl of … hot water. (*)
The lesson? Learn first aid principles!!!
Six weeks of plastered-leg hobbling followed. A couple of months after the plaster came off, I was on a hitch hiking jaunt to Chamonix and a summer of climbing in the Alps. Plastic boots are great for supporting dicky ankles!!
West Face of the Plan, 1983.
My ankle has retained a weakness, yet it has not stopped me from doing anything I put my heart to, such as trekking or climbing big mountains (it hurts like hell for two days then the muscles take over) or giving a piggy bag to a trip participant after an end of expedition party (bad idea, dicky ankles have a tendency to flop easily!)
This last time, at the riper age of sixty, it was an earnest need to stretch thigh and buttock muscles which got me into trouble. A few days of my over enthusiastic regimen did create soreness in my thighs (hey, it is working!) but my lower back did not like it. What did it was the putting-my-socks-on-while-standing-up-on-one- foot-suppleness-test. Very bad idea. Boing! Went my lower back muscles, “ F*** ” went the Big Dummy looking at me in the bathroom mirror.
Lesson: stretching is a great idea, but gently, on a regular basis, especially as you get older and stiffer. Listen to the body, not ego.
Fortunately, it is now the limbo time between Christmas and New Year, and I do not need any excuse to lay low (and down). Extra fortunately, I have a beautiful friend in Belgium who practices an extraordinary technique called RPG (**), and she sent me the auto posture I need to practice (gently!!) to fix my back.
The hardest bit is to find an uncluttered wall to do it on. The next hardest bit is to have the discipline to actually do it. 🙂
As I have an inspiring incentive to get fit (I am escorting a yoga trek to Nepal in April AND a Women 4 Women Walking Retreat in November), and I have already given up drinking to help with it, I have no doubt I’ll raise to the challenge!!
Have a wonderful, challenging and rewarding 2019!!!!
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(*) Of course R.I.C.E. is the way to go!!! Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation.