I was never a person, even as a young girl, who could touch her toes.
As my body has aged, I have progressed from “naturally inflexible” to rigidly stiff and pained. Yesterday The Lovely Daughter and I went hiking, on mildly strenuous trails through a rocky gorge.
The downward trails were challenging to these achy knees and uncompromising thighs. A couple of times I chose slides on my rear rather than attempts at navigating the trail. And today ~ oh, I am feeling old!
I came home and did some reading. Probably many of you are aware of studies showing that being able to rise from a seated position on the floor without using hands and tables and chairs for assistance is a sign of overall health and future longevity. I gave it a try. It appears that my demise is imminent.
This afternoon I educated myself about hamstring muscles, the muscles that help to form the backs of our thighs. (How did we tolerate life before the internet, with libraries closed on Sundays?) There are three of them, the hamstrings, and they wrap around and find their final resting place alongside the knee ~ and thus their stiffness accounts for not only mobility challenges, but also for knee pain.
And so I have a new yoga and stretching program, focused, to start with, on those poor hamstring muscles. It has occurred to me that, when I broke my ankle some years ago, the physical therapy required after surgery began with the smallest of (attempted) movements, repeated several times a day, and transformed me from someone who could not move her ankle even a fraction of an inch in any direction into a regular walker again. It took months, but it happened. Why not repeat the process?
My rapid decline is not inevitable, I think. I have no ambitions like The Quiet Husband’s ~ he runs in senior track meets! ~ but I have modest goals for long walks and strength and flexibility. Maybe even backpacking again.
With my newfound anatomical knowledge, I feel a slight surge of optimism.
Photo: Nelson Ledges in Northeast Ohio.