EXERCISE AND INJURIES
A friend of mine who has been an inspiration to me recently suffered and Achilles tendon rupture that seemingly struck out of the blue. She is one of those people who seems to do it all, a super-mom who manages to run and continue an impressive career, maintain fitness, recover well from childbirth and just about everything else. But recently a recreational game of racquetball, lead to a snap and a diagnosis of a ruptured Achilles tendon that is going to require months of lifestyle change, rehab, crutches and more. It has been yet another reminder of how fragile we are and how tenuous our hold onto health and fitness truly is even when we are seemingly doing everything right. So what lessons do we take from it? Well, one thing is to certainly appreciate everyday that we have in this wonderful world and especially appreciate every day we have with good health. Never take such days for granted and cherish the precious minutes of nice weather and the ability to exercise and experience vitality and nature. It also reminds us to be careful and try to balance the risks of our activities against the enjoyment and the benefit of them. For example, many of us are a lot less reckless on the ski hills nowadays than we once were in our youth. I see far too many serious orthopedic injuries and brain injuries among skiers, both of which would be pretty problematic for my kids so I take a little more caution and go a bit slower (but still have just as much fun!).
Research indicates that running and vigorous long term exercise is not associated with increased orthopedic injuries. This runs contrary to popular opinion on the subject, but nonetheless it does appear true from a large Stanford study and other trials that comparing, for example, runners to non-runners over the course of many years, runners experience no greater incidents of knee injuries or other orthopedic ailments. On the other hand, skeptics argue that these runners are “self selected” because they have more durable knees and joints, but it is difficult to prove. It is certainly better for our cardiovascular health and our mental health to exercise regularly throughout our lives and hopefully into advanced age. Whether capricious injuries derail that hope is something none of us can predict. But one hopes my friend will recover uneventfully and will go on to have a long and health career exercising and the rest of us can avoid injury by being careful, staying active and eluding the risks we take. And above all, acknowledging and cherishing every day of good health we get.