Beauty in Aging: Put some muscle into it!
To me, and many "seasoned" women today, the ultimate goal is no longer to appear young, but to feel strong and vibrant. I received additional clarity on this due to an age-related injury.
Over the past year, I started experiencing increased pain and loss of strength in my right arm and shoulder. After receiving cortisone shots and participating in physical therapy, I was slightly better. Then, an unfortunate experience with a rolling suitcase set me back. Way back. I went for another shot and more PT and ended up in a thumpy MRI machine. Two surgeons looked at my films and had the same opinion: I needed rotator cuff surgery. I felt defeated.
Our daughter had started at college two states away and was miserable, plus I knew I wanted to start a job hunt, so the thought of an intense surgery plus weeks of recovery, was not appealing. I talked to everyone I could about the procedure and did not receive a single piece of inspirational news. I told my doctors I needed some time and went in for another cortisone shot to help me through the pain. Soon I realized that the harder I worked in PT, the more I regressed. It was weird.
Thankfully, in the midst of all this, I started working with my personal trainer Rey. We met him through a friend and soon learned he had a terrific reputation. I also started listening to my body, realizing the way I was attacking my PT was possibly doing more harm than good. I noticed Rey was more intent on building strength slowly, with plenty of modifications, and definitely without pain.
We started with two sessions a week, doing strength training. I did not lift a weight for a couple of months; instead, using resistance bands and the weight of my own body. I graduated to three sessions a week plus small weights and a weighted bar not long ago, and the difference in my strength is noticeable - and giving me so much joy! Plus, my shoulder pain has not returned. I've also learned ways to accommodate my injury without limiting my daily activities.
Could it be I don't need rotator cuff surgery? I don't know. I plan to stay in touch with my doctors, and I might need a procedure at some point. However, I don't plan to take myself down that path without more discernment, strengthening, and self-awareness.
I want to encourage anyone of a certain age reading this to consider strength training. I always thought I would find it boring and painful, but I have a great trainer who makes it fun. The benefits I'm noticing include increased energy, a return of agility, and the most exciting thing to me - the courage to wear shorts in public again. Haha!
My advice when faced with an age-related injury like a torn rotator cuff? Get plenty of professional opinions, investigate the experience of others, and listen to your body. Having an aging body can be a challenge, but I am starting to see that we can succeed with a spirit of adaptability, growth, and self-love.
"A successful old age may lie not so much in our stars and genes as in ourselves.”
~George Eman Vaillant