Let’s get this out of the way: I am 52. For most of my life, that’s how old my back felt, if not much older. But after almost a year out of the gym – using just bodyweight exercises, a kettlebell, & lots of walking – the test of strength that is the Northeastern USA’s Nor’easter showed me some interesting things.
I’ve always been pretty good at shoveling – but shoveling at piles of wet snow 1-2 feet deep for 3 days, and racking up over 5 hours of solid shoveling time will test just about anyone. In my youth, and all the way up to a few years ago, shoveling snow was done in between bouts of lying on the floor or couch with a heating pad, enduring lower back pain for up to a week afterward, as well as spasms in my shoulder-neck area (upper trapezius muscles, for the curious). I have NO low back pain, NO stiffness or spasms in my upper trapezius, and my shoulders and forearms are merely sore, like after a serious workout or two. I also didn’t need Tylenol or Advil, or anything!
This is important, for a number of reasons.
1. It shows that even though I had a lifetime of low back pain, there was something I could do about it, just by learning correct movement & muscle development.
2. It rewards patience. I constantly reinforce patience as a necessary aspect of transforming aspects of your body, and it is seriously validating to look back at how a core-dominant training program helped reduce back & neck pain to 1 (‘no pain’) on a scale of 1-10.
3. It reinforces the concept of training the body with movement patterns to help make ‘work’ (something different from ‘exercise’, where you are moving just to move) more effective and safe.
4. I preach and teach a lot of adequate protein intake and good sleep as recovery aids, and this is paying off big dividends.
What good is it to exercise regularly, and then hurt yourself gardening, or hauling heavy shopping items, or taking down Christmas lights, or…shoveling snow? Think about it – if your workout routines aren’t making YOU more injury-proof, how long do you think you can keep going before an injury comes along? Of course, accidents happen. I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about the simple act of using your body to accomplish something you need done, like carrying a heavy laundry basket. If you dread carrying things AND you work out regularly, start asking yourself how things could be better. Because they CAN.