My exercise class finishes for the summer this week, and I approach the next three months with shaky confidence in my ability to maintain the strength of my core on my own. The figurative meanings are not accidental here.
One of the primary catalyzing forces behind this year long blog project was the report last fall that I had an unstable core. Yet another back injury had me off tennis for 9 weeks, and the physical therapist delivered the bad news about my core. It felt like an ominous diagnosis at the time, and I wondered about the core of my inner self in a broader sense. I needed more stability in the core of my being as well.
That's when a friend said to me, "Have I got the class for you!" Six months of Mary's class have transformed my physical strength and stability. It is all about the core, the trunk, the torso, the "powerhouse." I was utterly humbled to discover how much weakness there was in the most important part of me.
There was an article in the June 8th Bangor Daily News about back surgeries. They are on the rise in number and happening sooner than they used to. People want a quick fix and surgeons are obliging. What they didn't stress enough was that so many back problems would be solved by regular exercise. Bad backs are a symptom of an unstable core.
So much of our society seems to be plagued by core instability, and one has to assume that our sedentary nature is the culprit. Our abdominal and back muscles don't work enough, don't move enough, don't stretch and bend and strengthen enough while we're sitting at desks, in the car, on the sofa, in front of TV's and computers.
We don't need surgery, we just need exercise.
Beyond the physical benefits of Mary's class, it created a routine of exercise for me - with a bunch of other women who became familiar faces, who expected to see me there. They helped to strengthen my motivational core as well. Now I'll have to fly solo until after Labor Day. I doubt I'll be able to maintain the same rigor without that structure, but I hope I can find the drive to keep from slipping back into vulnerable instability.
The news article made it clear that I am not alone in my physical instability, and I suspect that a more profound instability may be plaguing our entire society. Core muscles, core strength, core principles, core values - too many people are trying to find easy shortcuts to all of them. But there's nothing easy about any of it. Without a lot of hard work, we'll all end up flat on our backs.