Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Bone Density and the Fragility of the Spine

Yesterday, as I was reaching to put a coffee mug on a bedside table, a movement that I make daily, my back seized up.  I spent the rest of the day moving very slowly, gently, and deliberately.  I took a lot of ibuprofen.

Midafternoon, I reached across the desk for a binder clip.  Again, that fierce clenching of muscles.  It was as if my body said, "You were thinking about going to spin class.  Rethink that plan."

So I came home.  I got some grading done, some writing done, and washed some dishes.  I took more ibuprofen.  I decided not to attempt spin class this morning.

I find it interesting that I had this reminder of the fragility of the spine on the same day that the first two women completed Army Ranger training.  They had to accomplish the same harsh discipline as the men.  They did it.

I remember the not-so-long ago days when people would have argued that women were not capable of becoming strong enough to do it.  I always argued that we should try it and see.  I conceded that most women would not be capable.  I also argued that most men are not capable.

In the news coverage yesterday, I heard that most women wash out of the program because of stress fractures:  they truly cannot carry those heavy packs day after day.  But now, two women have proven that some women can.

My mom and my maternal grandmother have/had dense bones.  My paternal grandmother died before we had any sense that regular women might want to know their bone density.  I have yet to have a scan, but I'm guessing that my bones are fairly dense.  My skeleton has been carrying extra weight for my whole life--it's a different kind of strength training.  I've also done work with weights, and I've never had trouble lifting and carrying.

But oh my poor spine.  I'm guessing that my spine is fine--it's the back muscles around it that grow strained and tired.

I do need to be more intentional about getting up and moving during the day.  While I don't have the rigorous demands of an Army Ranger, my job is taking its toll on my physical being.

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