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The "Oh, My Back" Squat



I remember looking at women who were gardening or reaching for an item on the lowest shelf in the grocery store--any action that required bending forward, squatting--and thinking, "I'll never have to stoop like that." I mean, do you have a picture in your mind as I do? A woman's butt jutting out, her knees slightly bent (but not too much), her upper body thrust forward. It was, I assumed, a pose to protect a bad back or knees that could no longer take the stress of too much bending. It was a pose taken by older, much older, women.



Uh-hum . . . That's the sound of me clearing my throat. Please, forgive me for I have sinned. I didn't mean to cast aspersions. Because now, at seventy-five, I assume the same butt out, knees slightly bent, upper torso thrust forward pose--oh, I don't know--a good ten times a day, maybe more. In my case, it's a bad back that I injured back in the day when my supposed physical trainer had no idea what he was doing and had me lie on my back, put 30-pound weights (okay, maybe 10) around each ankle, and, with my legs glued together, try to touch my shoulders. Was he out of his mind?


But that was some forty years ago, and things have never been quite "right" with my back since then. Needless to say, falling through an unlocked door two years ago and jamming my spine didn't help.



"Stand Up, Sit down, Fight, Fight, Fight!


Maybe six years ago, my husband and I were sitting on the terrace of a Mexican hacienda, listening to live music. What I remember from that day is not the music but hearing a man say to me, "Wow! That was impressive." I looked at him and wondered what the hell he was talking about. "You know," he said, "the ease with which you stood up." I didn't imagine that in the not too distant future I would go from sitting to standing and back down again with effort and maybe a thud.


I do wish I could move so seamlessly, but those days are long gone. I haven't given up, though. Before the Pandemic and, hopefully, one of these days sooner than later, I worked with a dance and core instructor to relearn how to move in order to protect my body. If you're like me, you have stood up and not been able to straighten up. Or your knees buckled from under you, and you limped your way to the refrigerator to grab a bag of ice.


The old gray mare, she ain't what she used to be,
Ain't what she used to be, ain't what she used to be,
The old gray mare, she ain't what she used to be,
Many long years ago.

But the news isn't all bad. Nope, there is plenty we older and wiser women can do to gain strength and avoid the pitfalls (LOL) of "losing it" because you're not "moving it."

Here's a short list. I'm sure you can add to it.

  • Take a yoga class

  • Take a walk every day and go a little further each time

  • Join a gym (whenever they open again). Maybe work with a personal trainer. Just don't get one as ignorant as mine.

  • Dance around the house which, by the way, is one of my favorites.

  • If you have the funds, work with a physical therapist

  • Treat yourself to a luxurious bath with Epson Salts or to an occasional professional massage.

  • Practice standing up and sitting down. I know, it's a bummer but, hey, we gotta' do what we gotta' do.

And if you don't want to risk a sore muscle or cranked back when you're out there gardening (or any other time, for that matter), buy yourself a stool and sit yourself down.












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