Learning to live with boomeritis#8217; Staff 08/03/2006 I spent Sunday sprawled out on the sofa reading the New York Times. Frankly, it was about all I was capable of doing. I try to work out a little

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 3, 2006

I spent Sunday sprawled out on the sofa reading the New York Times.

Frankly, it was about all I was capable of doing.

I try to work out a little a few mornings each week before going to the office. On Friday, I felt a little something pull in my back while doing some work with weights.


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I felt a little stiff and got progressively worse throughout the day. By Saturday morning, I was immobilized and there was little change on Sunday. My knees would almost buckle when I stood, so I tried to stay down, except when I had to go to the bathroom. When I nearly had to scream for help in the bathroom, I knew it was time to make some changes to my routine.

On the front page of the Times sports page was a story about Baby Boomers n the 78 million of us born between 1946 and 1964. Raised on Jack LaLanne and Jane Fonda videos, we Boomers are seeking the Fountain of Youth through exercise and are doing things that our middle-aged bodies aren’t capable of doing.

As a result, we’ve created a booming orthopedic and sports medicine industry.

“Encouraged by doctors to continue to exercise three to five times a week for their health, a legion of running, swimming and biking boomers are flouting the conventional limits of the middle-aged body’s abilities, and filling the nation’s operating rooms and orthopedists’ offices in the process,” the article read.

“They need knee and hip replacements, surgery for cartilage and ligament damage, and treatment for tendonitis, arthritis, bursitis and stress fractures. The phenomenon even has a name in medical circles: boomeritis.”

The article noted that exercise-related injuries are the number two reason Boomers go to the doctor, following only the common cold.

I’ve been afflicted with boomeritis for about four years now. I was never athletic, but have tried to stay active throughout my adult life. In 2001, I had been relatively inactive. My weight had ballooned by 25 or 30 pounds. My boss, who was in similar condition as I, had started running. He dropped a bunch of weight fast and really looked good. I figured if he could do it, so could I, so at age 40 I started running.

I had tried running on and off my entire life, but was never able to do much more than a mile at a time. Once I went beyond a mile; however, I was amazed how easy, and enjoyable, running became. In no time, I was doing two miles, then three, up to five miles a day. It felt good and I started to look better. Unfortunately, the endorphin high I was on was short-lived.

The pain started in my ankles. They would get swollen to the point where I could not walk without the aid of cane. This was followed by heel pain, then knee and hip pain. I’ve been to my doctor dozens of times in the past four years with various ailments. I’ve been treated by podiatrists and orthopedists.

Flat on my back, reading the Times article, I realized how stupid it is, what I’ve been trying to do.

While I’ve told myself I do it for my health, the bottom line is vanity and I’d say that’s the case with most people. But pain like I’m experiencing and possibly going under the knife for hip or knee replacement, is too high a price to pay for not being self conscious about taking off your shirt to go swimming. In fact, I’d say it’s borderline retarded.

Actually, I had come to this conclusion some time before the Times article. I had gone from running 25 to 30 miles a week to walking 10 to 15. I’m sure, now, I’ll likely go from the weight machine to light dumbbells.

It’s more important to me to be able to get on and off the toilet unassisted than it is to have a body like Matthew McConaghey’s. Heck, I don’t even like swimming.

Prutsok is publisher of the News-Herald. He can be reached at 934-9611 or at andy.prutsok@suffolknewsherald.com.