To Keep Moving as You Age Understand Your Steering Gear

To keep your body moving as you age it pays to be aware of what you are doing. For instance, steering your body is in many ways similar to steering a car and the metaphor is instructive.

keep moving as you age
Excerpt From: The True Story of Plantar Fasciitis: And Why Heel Injections Should Be Banned, Kindle Edition. There are interesting parallels between the way cars and your body function. They are both machines that do stuff, which is built into their designs.

Instead of rack and pinion steering gear you use a combination of gravity, by leaning in the direction you want to go, while turning your legs in that direction, twisting your spine and moving your arms accordingly.

Gravity: Use of gravity requires coordination of your sense of balance, which includes vision, inner ear functions, somatic sense (feelings in muscles and joints) and the activity of thousands of sensory receptors on the soles of your feet. Cars don’t have such things, but some recent vehicles have been designed to lean in a similar way.”

Excerpt From: “The True Story of Plantar Fasciitis”

To keep moving as you age is really good advice, more than I could have imagined as a youngster in my early 60s. Ironman training has, and still does, pay tremendous dividends in my later 70s. Fortunately, I learned a lot about body movement during my studies of so-called plantar fasciitis.

Studying the causes of disease, which is what I do professionally as a research pathologist, always leads you into unexpected and often exciting territory. For instance, while trying to understand the nature of lesions induced in the nose by reactive gases, I was carried sequentially through nasal mucociliary function, histochemistry, biochemistry, fluid dynamics (studying airflow), and finally to the solution in an area of which I was completely unaware, boundary layer theory (took about 14 years to do this).

Understanding any machine, including your body or a motorbike, requires some awareness of how it works. This understanding deepens your relationship with said machine. If you don’t believe me read this excellent book, one I recommended to all of my students:

keep moving as you age
Here’s a highly relevant quote from this book, especially today: “Any effort that has self-glorification as its final endpoint is bound to end in disaster.”

During my work on the acute morning heel pain that is incorrectly known as plantar fasciitis, I had similar adventures. I journeyed through muscle tightness, the function of fascia, biomechanics (how the body moves), and finally to the solution, nociceptive foot pain.

Who would have thought it? Not I!

I learned a lot about body movement in the process, ESPECIALLY the importance of having loose healthy balanced hips. They do tend to stiffen up as you age. Mine, in spite of lots of work, are always tight when I get up in the morning. Soon fixed by moving around, drinking tea, and gentle stretching, though I’m sure it’s the tea that does the trick.

There is plenty of material on the Internet to familiarize you with body structure and how your body works. For instance, here’s a nice artist’s rendition of an important hip rotator, the piriformis, a source of all sorts of trouble.

keep moving as you age
Piriformis muscles (lateral hip rotators), drawing By Sebastian Kaulitzk, License purchased from and filed with ShutterStock, Inc.

Wishing you happy trials,

kev aka FitOldDog

keep moving as you age
Grey is muscle, white is fat, clear ring around the central white spot (bone marrow) is the femoral bone.

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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.