Take care of your body

by Rob Tiller

I used to regard the taking care of my body as sort of a bother — something much less important and interesting than, say, reading a good book. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come round to thinking of it as a fundamental — the thing that has to be done before anything else can get done. Being happy depends in large part on being healthy. And just as some people look forward to taking care of their pets or their cars, I’ve come to value the opportunity to care of my body with healthy food and exercise.

Getting healthier has made me happier, and happy about getting healthier — a virtuous cycle. It’s hard to believe — ten years ago I wouldn’t have believed it myself — but I actually look forward to getting up at 5:15 and going to the gym.

Lately I’ve particularly enjoyed my once-a-week early morning workout with Larissa at Studio Revolution. She’s sparky and cheery, and always innovative. This past week she had me doing a lot of new movements that required balance and coordination, and thus concentration. It isn’t always clear why we’re doing these things, but over all they seem to be producing good results. My rule of decision is, when in doubt, just trust her, and do the exercise. This is, I think, a good general rule: if you want to accomplish something, find a good guru, and then do what she says.

I applied this rule recently to a nagging shoulder injury. Most of my joints were working just fine, but my right shoulder did not feel good. What caused it I do not know. I could do most of the activities of daily life, but certain movements, like reaching behind my back to wash it, or taking off a tee-shirt, were painful.

After trying to ignore it, I tried healing it myself through strengthening it, which didn’t work, and then tried resting it, which didn’t work I tried massage, which helped a bit, but then the problem returned. I finally decided to return to the same physical therapist who resolved my lower back problems some years ago, Geert Audiens at Avante Physical Therapy. And two weeks later I’m feeling much better.

Geert (prouncounded Heert) diagnosed a small rotator cuff injury. To fully explain the situation, he had to use a lot of vocabulary I didn’t know. But the bottom line was clear: I had an imbalance of muscles that was causing pressure on nerves. He treated it with various stretches, exercises, and icing, and prescribed a somewhat involved set of these measures as homework. The exercises mostly involved 3-pound weights, which are so small I found it hard to believe they could do anything. But, they do! It’s amazing! If you have this problem, I recommend seeing Geert, and do what he tells you to do.