Just a Fling?

                                   The Saga Continues

It’s always a struggle, isn’t it? “What is?” you may ask. Well, everything. Loading the dishwasher last week became one. The simple stretch from standing up to leaning six inches with a nearly weightless fork in my hand resulted in a ‘ping’ I recognized as a warning from my back that I had forced it to do something for which it is not, at this time in life, designed.

How can a person know when leaning over is a good thing or a bad thing? It all seems so much the same. Thirty times a week, I can lean over to the same dishwasher with the same fork (I bought cheap forks four years ago and we don’t have many left) and nothing goes wrong. The thirty-first time becomes a different story.

Once when I had been talked into three sessions with a physical trainer, the tiny young sweet girl related that you never strain your back if you remember to tighten your gluts before you lean. I looked at her, smiling, nodding my head, and never once letting her see what was going on in my mind. First, the thought that everything is simple and flexible and sooo doable when you’re nineteen. She probably didn’t even need to think about her gluts or leaning or tightening. It just all worked. Simple, she said with a smile. Which leads to the next issue. What exactly are gluts?

Maybe I’m the only one on earth, but all this referring to body parts by their scientific name – even shortened ones – is a bit off-putting. Lats, flexors, fascia. “Use your deltoid,” says the training instructor. I’m sweating, straining and tired, and now I have to put my mind to figuring out labels from a uni-sex naked body on a poster from my doctor’s office that I study for 36 seconds twice a year when I visit her. Something’s going to give, with that much concentrating, and I’m hoping it’s not my mind. If the trainer would just point, or use general vocabulary, “Tighten your arm. No, farther up,” that might work. Come to think of it, pointing is the best solution, especially for someone my age. Which is my final comment.

I’m not at the age when I’ve given up trying to focus my mind. But I have learned that I should focus on one thing at a time. Lean over and think about leaning over, meta-cognition about something that should be instantaneous, for me is really a multi-task, and I have given up multi-tasking. I can tighten my gluts, after I remember where they are, and I can lean over, but those two (three?) functions are not going to happen at the same time. And leaning over? That task is so automatic it requires no thought at all, making me mentally back-up to stop that reflex action. So to do what the trainer assumes is as simple for me as for her, I would really have to think about four things at once.

  1. Don’t lean over until I tighten my gluts
  2. figure out where my gluts are
  3. tighten them
  4. then try to remember what I was going to do and why my bottom is all squeezed up.

It makes me long for my yoga days. In fact, I credit the fact that my back gives me warnings – instead of emergencies – to sun salutations and the occasional back-stand and spinal twist. Maybe, after this fling with spin class and Zumba, yoga will remind me it was my first love.

For a couple days, I relived the ping in my back, a wonderful reminder two or three times a day to stop whatever I was doing and stretch. I swam more and funked less. A week passed. Things got better. Never once was I motivated to name that specific place in my lower back that pinged. But, I can sure point to it.


8 thoughts on “Just a Fling?

  1. Great that you can at least still bend over. I’ve been caught by a bad knee or back that once bent over, there is no “painless” way to straighten up.

    Seriously, great piece, and great to see your column again.


    1. Thanks, Opus. Hey what’s that funny Polish-looking script that comes up when I want to read your blog but can’t???


  2. Did you recall that you have therapists reading your blog?! Or, maybe that was the point 🙂 If you don’t like “gluts”, try “ass”. Then work your way around to the front, where you may not want to here the PT say “work your core”, so drop the “l” in gluts and get “guts”. Ass and guts. That’s it.

    By the way, the fork was not the weight that pinged your back, but your trunk, arms, and head. Glad to read that you worked through the injury. Back to Zumba.



    1. I thought of you when I wrote this piece, knew it would touch a funny bone (there’s a name you won’t see on the body part labels) Ass and guts, you say? – those are technical terms I can live with. Thanks for reading and commenting..


      1. I know that you really don’t want technical stuff, but the “funny bone”, that thing that you hit on the back of your elbow, is actually the grove in the olecrenon process in which the ulnar nerve passes. Thus, when you hit it and feeling that tingling in your hand you have stimulated the pain pathways in your ulnar nerve generating a parathesia. Pptthhhhh! Not funny at all 😉

        Now what’s the difference between your ass and a smart ass?


  3. This is not quite what I was expecting here, but I find the posting to be very funny. I was the guy at Sunset Estates running around on that electric scooter. Just standing up is a chore for me, and I’m just as confused by all that terminology. Ass and guts works for me.

    My posting of your visit will be up Friday morning.


    1. Hi Don! Thanks for the wonderful time at Sunset. I was so pleased with the feeling in the group – lovely bunch of people. Yes, blogging is very different from writing a book, and I like to take advantage of that by having loads of fun! (Not that book-writing doesn’t have its laughs, too)
      I’m heading over to your site now. Thanks for visiting my blog.


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