Physical Therapy and Conditioning
In my weekly routines, Morning Stretch is followed by one hour of fitness-and-conditioning machine workouts. State-of-the-art fitness and conditioning machines are new for me because I’ve never worked out on anything more than a treadmill or stationary bike while doing physical therapy at my home clinic.
When I first entered the pain program’s workout center, I was intimidated. It looked like the set for a movie about the Spanish Inquisition, or maybe a football team documentary.
OK–maybe not that bad. The machine that strengthens my neck muscles actually made me feel pretty good. They say that stronger neck muscles should help alleviate the pain caused by the degenerative discs.
The repeated back-and-forth motion of my neck while using this machine brings back memories of my old heavy-metal head-banging days, except in slow motion.
I told my 20-something-year-old therapist that I’d be ready to start head-banging again after this treatment. That made her giggle. Imagine old people like me head-banging. We still do, you know.
Come to think of it, could head-banging be the reason why I now have degenerative disc disease? Do Baby Boomers have more neck problems than Gen Y’ers and Millennials?
The Gen X’ers of the Disco Era probably also have neck issues. There was all that pointing up and down and following their pointing with their their eyes with a steady up-down neck twist. It’s a variation of the head-bang only with a slower beat.
Now that we’re pondering whether dancing might be harmful to your health, let’s also consider tripping, falling and getting (accidently) decked:
Have you ever:
- Taken a hard fall on your butt on a dance floor?
- Been socked in the jaw by a wild elbow?
- Tripped over a kicking foot and gone flying?
There are a lot of videos of this phenomena out there and most of them seem to be at marriage celebrations–so therefore, wedding accidents.
Injuries from falls very often show up later as chronic arthritis and myofascial pain: inflammation of the muscles and facia (FACE-she-ah) which are the tissues covering and connecting the muscles to the bone.
Dancing mishaps can also occur at clubs, celebrations and community events too. Anywhere where there’s wild music.
Polkas are especially dangerous. All that spinning and getting dizzy and hopping on one foot then the other. All at the same time.
If you live in the Upper Midwest US or South Canada, you know what I mean. Oh, and watch out for that Butterfly Dance, eh?
If you’re wondering what that is, watch a clip here. It seems safe enough for the first couple minutes but then…all heck breaks loose.
NOTE: to my knowledge, no dancers were harmed in the making of this video.
They were having fun doing something healthy: burning up the calories consumed from the wedding feast, the cake, and the beer. OK–the beer isn’t exactly healthy for everyone but it can get people up to dance who otherwise would not do it anywhere else. And they laugh and have fun. Social connection is also recommended for healthier living. That’s for a future discussion.
Dancing is a great cardio workout, no matter how you do it. It doesn’t have to be vigorous–you can do a slow waltz or just sit in a chair and move your arms and legs to music (as your mobility allows). Any amount of movement for even 10 minutes is better than not moving at all. Start out simple and easy. The more you do it, it starts feeling so good you want to do it more.
This is one of my favorite workouts:
- Put on your favorite dance music
- Crank it up (if it doesn’t bother your neighbors or housemates)
- Grab a broom or mop or dust rag
- Boogie down
- Sing along (again, thinking about who may hear you and if you mind)
- Sweep! Mop! Dust! Turn–and step–and wipe–123.
Singing is an excellent workout for the lungs, diaphragm and stomach muscles. And it boosts endorphins too. Those are the brain chemicals that make you feel good and happy when you’re feeling that way. But when you’re not, singing and dancing can activate those little endorphins which help lighten you up, lessen the pain, and make you feel better. (Granted you don’t trip and fall while dancing with the broom!)
So, to wrap this up, my recommendation is that if you don’t have access to a fitness center or conditioning machines, try singing and dancing. Doesn’t matter whether you’re any good at it or not–just do what works and makes you feel better.
PS: for you aging head-bangers out there, watch for the upcoming “Heavy Metal Aerobics” video at DIY Healthy Lifestyles’ YouTube page.
Comments, Questions, and Suggestions