Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Generational Swings

A little over a month ago, I put down the Dustbuster in our New York apartment after cleaning up what seemed like the millionth dust bunny we had found while getting ready to move, and I tweaked my back.  This was problematic for a number of reasons -- chief among them was the fact that our movers were coming in an hour.

I had been running a lot, trying the 100 pushup challenge (I was up to 45ish pushups) and flying all over the country for work.  Oh yeah, and moving.  There was a lot of pent up stress and I suppose the Dustbuster was the straw that broke my back.

Anyway, after about three weeks of letting it get better, I was on the bus coming to work and the bus stopped very short.  The entire bus load of Financial District Bound San Franciscans whipped forward, and hard. I called a chiropractor when I got to the office.

Over the past week, I have been stretched and cracked and such, and I am feeling much better thank you for asking.  But the really wonderful part of this story is that today I was given homework.

True, homework is never fun. But this homework has some history.

Here is how it went down:
Dr. C: Do you do dynamic leg stretches?
dcc: Yes, especially before longer runs.
Dr. C: Good.
[Cracking and Twisting]
Dr. C: You should do them in the morning.  It will help with your hamstring and back. Also, mix in a flat foot hip-hinge.
Now, this seems like an innocuous prescription and one that could easily be fulfilled with about an extra five minutes in the morning. 

But it made me laugh pretty hard.  While I doubt he would call them by the same names, my maternal grandfather did the same exercises for his entire life. 

Opa, German for grandpa, was a bit of a hard ass, loved my mom, her husband and kids with everything he had, and did things his way (because those were the right ways to do whatever it was).  He could fix anything with left over twist-ties and some twine, had a compost heap well before urban farming was anything more than the oxymoron it remains today, and was an independent toy store owner.  So pretty much he was a hipster before there were hipsters, but he showered.

While there are a million stories to tell, the ones I remember the most vividly centered around being in his house in Newton, MA.  Their were round-rounds (juice-cup-cut-circles of German black bread with jam) and there were morning exercises.

I loved the round-rounds and would ask for them, all the time.  However, when I stayed the night I was more interested in Opa's morning routine.  It included the usual stuff but it also included a number of high leg swings and standing squat things where he would balance by moving his arms up.

Now, decades after his death, my chiropractor -- a guy who was on the Team USA medical staff and helps real runners and triathletes compete -- has told me to do the exact same exercises that my grandfather did.

When I told Dr. C. this piece of family history, he asked if my grandfather lived a long time, and I told him yes.  I also told him I was pretty sure he could have kicked my ass to the day he died.  There is some logic, Dr. C. said, to moving a lot.

Well here is to Opa, along with being a pain in the ass and a loving husband, father and father-in-law, and grandfather, the exercise innovator.

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