Which one of these is you – cricking knees whenever you bend down, a mighty hnnng every time you get up from the sofa, feeling ready for bed by 9.30pm when you used to party until 2am, or if you’re anything like me – all three?
A few years ago, I noticed my knees hurt whenever I went up or down stairs. I remember once, struggling to keep up with someone as they bounded up an escalator ahead of me. As my knees deteriorated, I thought, perhaps this is just part of getting older – like searching for glasses perched on your head. Joints would start to creak and crack and that was just the way things were. But then it got so painful, I wondered if it was time for surgery.
I went to see the doctor. As soon as I described my symptoms, she knew exactly what was wrong – Patello-femoral pain syndrome (PFPS). While it may sound dramatic, it simply describes the pain caused when the muscles around the knee weaken causing the patella (kneecap) and femur (thigh bone) to meet. She sent me off with some exercises and over time, the pain lessened. And had I kept them up, I probably wouldn’t be writing this blog but you know how life goes… I stopped doing the exercises and slowly the pain returned. Not only that, my back and shoulders were now constantly sore from sitting at my computer and I’d twisted my ankle. I was a walking bag of minor ailments but because they were small, I ignored them. Then I had a lightbulb moment one afternoon while watching a Facebook vid about an octogenarian gymnast. I realised, I had more say over how my body aged than I’d thought. This old gal was flinging herself around on the parallel bars and tumbling on the mats like she was 8 not 80.
Watching her, I could see, with the right lifestyle changes, I could turn my situation around. My aim wasn’t swinging on asymmetric bars any time soon but I decided it was time to strengthen my body – not to look good – but so I could continue to live the life I wanted without my body failing me – or more accurately, without me failing my body with bad choices. Years ago, when I was a real gym bunny, a friend asked why I went so often, scoffing that all it meant was I would die fit. When he put it like that, it did seem ridiculous but now, two decades on, I can feel the accumulative effect of some of my less beneficial choices. This is why exercise and healthy eating is vital for me now. In years to come, I want my body to still be supple and strong and organs healthy so I can do and enjoy the things I love.
If you’re starting to notice those creaks and groans creep in, don’t take them lying down (unless you’re doing sit ups), join me in 2021 to get a stronger body, not for show but so we can all live our lives to the fullest. Who’s in?!
Feel free to comment below, guys!