Back to Back


Back in the dim corners of my memory, I recall a song in which a farmer-fiddler sat on his porch fiddling away while his roof leaked rain all over him.   A passing traveler advised him to fix his roof, to which the farmer replied, I can’t.  It’s raining.    The logical traveler suggested that when the rain let up, he could do it easily.  The farmer kept fiddling and said, Get along for you give me a pain;  My cabin never leaks when it doesn’t rain.  As a kid, I thought that was pretty funny.

I bring this up because in some ways, I am like the farmer with respect to my health and in particular regarding care of my aging back.    I am fortunate to have never had any major back problems beyond occasional sciatica and other leg pains originating in there.   But as the years … and years … go by what were once nuisances are sometimes debilitating, limiting what I can do.   This week was a perfect example.  I awoke several days ago with aching calves, the sort of aches I used to call dead legs in my long-past marathon days.   You’d think by this time in my life I’d immediately assume my back is the culprit, but as a former runner, the first thing I do is pick up my Runners Repair Manual (quite simply the best book on leg and foot problems for runners) to find our what might be wrong with my legs.   Yes, I am allowed to use The Runners Repair Manual courtesy of the grandfather clause in my running contract.   But sooner or later, it dawns on me … the problem might be my back so I do a few back stretches.  The pain in my legs subsides momentarily and I can feel the tightness in my back.  So I start a regimen of heat on my lower back, anti-inflammatories and regular stretching and almost immediately start to feel better.   And within a few days to a week, I’m back to normal.

However, if I did those stretches regularly … and paid some attention to my day-to-day posture (I tend to be a sloucher) … I would avoid those bouts of leg pain.   So, there you have it … Oldereyes doesn’t do his stretches regularly because There’s no need to stretch when my legs don’t hurt.  From the vantage point of a 73 year old non-stretching ex-runner with sore legs, the fiddling farmer doesn’t seem so funny any more.   The damnedest thing is that just a few simple chair stretches, shown here, seem to keep the leg pains away.   Once again, I’ll add the stretches to my Things to Do in the Morning list.   What do I do when the list of Things to Do in the Morning takes all day?

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