Even us “fit” folk have to re­assess our lim­its

The Hamilton Spectator - - HEALTH - ERNIE SCHRAMAYR

I am fit. Some would say very fit. Af­ter all … fit­ness has been the fo­cus of my life since I started play­ing sports in 1973 as a seven-yearold when con­tact sports were full con­tact for ev­ery­one at ev­ery age. Luck­ily, I was big­ger and stronger than most. And I never got hurt. Ex­cept for the oc­ca­sional “Char­lie horse,” pulled ham­string or sprained an­kle. Other than those is­sues, I was fine.

Through­out the years, I com­peted in 10 dif­fer­ent sports. That’s a lot to ask of a body, but, in­cred­i­bly, I never got hurt. Oh … ex­cept for the odd “mild” shoul­der sep­a­ra­tion, torn pec­toral mus­cle, bro­ken wrist or the time my back “gave out” and I couldn’t tie my shoes for a while. I also had whiplash, which felt like I was be­ing elec­tro­cuted. Other than that … no prob­lem.

Play­ing col­lege foot­ball for Pur­due Univer­sity and pro­fes­sional foot­ball in the CFL al­lowed me to com­pete against pow­er­houses like Notre Dame and Michi­gan and to go to a Grey Cup. For 10 years, my job was to be as big and strong as pos­si­ble while com­pet­ing at a pro­fes­sional level. And I never got hurt! … ex­cept for the time I had knee surgery or tore my bi­cep. Other than that … noth­ing.

Af­ter re­tire­ment and five surg­eries, I started moun­tain bik­ing, play­ing hockey and run­ning in ad­ven­ture races. I was able to keep my com­pet­i­tive juices flow­ing while liv­ing a nor­mal life as a busi­ness owner, hus­band and fa­ther. And the great thing is … I never got hurt! Well … un­less you count the time I went to the ER with a bro­ken cheek, de­vel­oped Achilles ten­dini­tis or when I tore my ro­ta­tor cuff. Other than that …. NOTH­ING!

So … now I’m a 50-year-old for­mer pro-ath­lete, cur­rent Med­i­cal Exercise Spe­cial­ist and it’s time to, fi­nally, face facts.

My body hurts.

This ar­ti­cle has given me the op­por­tu­nity to do some searching as to just why my body hurts so much. As I reread my words … wow, I’ve done a lot and my body owes me noth­ing, that’s for sure.

The mys­tery is not WHY I hurt, but, rather where do I go from here.

A few years ago, I learned a valu­able les­son. I em­ployed three re­ally fit, strong train­ers who were all in their 20s. I started to work out with them and could do ev­ery­thing they could do. In fact, I was stronger and fit­ter than most of them. The dif­fer­ence was that they could push hard day af­ter day af­ter day (kind of like when I was in my 20s) no mat­ter what was go­ing on in their lives. Try­ing to keep pace with them was killing me. I needed more re­cov­ery and I was faced with a re­al­ity check. I was, in fact, “hu­man” and was go­ing to break down if I didn’t make ad­just­ments. It was time to start tak­ing the ad­vice I give to my mid­dle-aged clients. Push and then, be re­al­is­tic, and al­low your­self time to re­cover. Re­cov­ery used to be just a lit­tle bit of your over­all fit­ness plan. At 50, with a life­time of in­juries be­hind you, it be­comes a much big­ger part of the big pic­ture.

As I plan the next phase of my life as a hus­band, fa­ther, busi­ness owner and ath­lete I am look­ing for things that will keep me fit and strong and keep the com­pet­i­tive juices flow­ing … with­out killing me. Or mak­ing me hurt.

My cy­cling continues, but, is a lit­tle less daunt­ing and I walk the bike where I used to ride it through dan­ger­ous sin­gle-track trails. I’m plan­ning a re­turn to recre­ational hockey and I re­ally en­joy in-line skat­ing in the sum­mer as a sub­sti­tute for the pound­ing I used to en­dure as a run­ner. I’m pretty sure Cross­fit isn’t in my fu­ture, but I’ll look at ev­ery­thing else.

I plan to plan, assess and mod­ify things along the way.

While fad­ing away doesn’t sound too ap­peal­ing, I’m just as sure that I don’t want to burn out!

Ernie Schramayr, CPT, is a Med­i­cal Exercise Spe­cial­ist in Hamil­ton who helps his clients man­age med­i­cal con­di­tions with exercise. You can fol­low him at ErniesFit­nessWorld.com. 905-741-7532 or erniesfit­nessworld@gmail.com.


In-line skat­ing is a great car­dio op­tion that does not pu­n­ish the joints as much as run­ning.

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