I’ve had excellent success dealing with “dodgy elbows” and maintaining my shoulders by implementing the advice from your articles in Rock and Ice—I’m a bit of a disciple now. But over the last six or seven years, my lower back has become the focus of my attention. Thirty years of being crap at highball bouldering—i.e. never doing a problem first try—and I now have degenerative disc disease with bone spurs throughout my lumbar spine. Things are getting worse and slowing me down. I’m nearly 45 years old.—Stuart Lancaster / Shipley, U.K.
I like you, Stuart. I feel we are astrologically linked. For starters, you and I both think I am excellent. I, too, have some bone spurs, and I live in
Shipley, albeit in Australia.
The roaring 40s are a great time. The kids are old enough to look after themselves, but still sweet, and there is some spare time for climbing and surfing.
Even shagging could be back on the agenda.
Alas, your body is dying. You and I have peaked, Stuart. What used to be just an inkling of decline is now downright alarming. My climbing grades are diminishing
even as I implement new and improved training techniques.
Think not about how the degeneration is slowing you down, but how climbing is slowing the degeneration! You see, the endgame of your musculoskeletal health
is all about strength and stability. You will lose the game, and no amount of denial will change that, but at least you can draw it out as long as
possible. Imagine where you would now be had you sat on the couch and watched “My Kitchen Sux” for the last decade.
A weekly appointment with your chiro, osteo, PT or bondage mistress will do wonderful things for their bank accounts, and may even help you, but the lasting
benefits pale when compared to outright strength training. If exercise was in a pill, we’d all be taking it. The reason everyone is not exercising
is because people are fucking lazy! They may be whining about their decrepit knees, but you know what, were laziness not a lifetime pursuit, they would
have thought about it 20 years ago. To them I say: Suck it up.
Your best bet is to supplement your climbing with some even more difficult exercises. The most effective, all things considered, is an exercise-ball program.
Fun, convenient, party-trick heaven, and its application in the bedroom will enliven your marriage, assuming that equipment still works.
This article was published in Rock and Ice No. 220 (August 2014).