One of the problems of aging is the slow deterioration of muscles and connective tissues, manifested in pain emanating from joints, muscles, skin and limbs. This morning, my right wrist is bothering me, a vague ache in the metacarpals just above the hinge of the wrist joint. I think back to yesterday and try to remember, did I strike my hand against a corner of a piece of furniture? Did I strain my hand by pulling at something? Did I abuse the ligaments by repeated motions? I cannot recall, but that dull ache remains.
Pains like this one are a common, nearly daily fact of life now, in my seventh decade (i.e., my sixties). One day it's my back, another day it's my left side, another day, it's my knee or ankle or neck. It's always something.
I live with this. An ibuprofen will help heal any swelling and dull the pain. The pain is not debilitating. I'm not on crutches or a motorized wheelchair. I climb stairs; I walk (but no longer run, except with grandchildren); I work out at the gym. But I feel these dull pains coming more frequently and more severely, and I don't like where this is headed.
In the times that I recognize what I did wrong to launch the pain du jour, I also recognize that these aches and pains last longer than they used to. An aging body takes longer to heal, whether it's healing from surgery, a broken bone, a cut, or a simple muscle strain. A tightness in my back or shoulder that might have kept me from exercising a day or two 10 years ago might sideline me for a week now.
This recognition helps me understand why professional athletes rarely compete past their early- or mid-30s. The human body has difficulty recovering from the daily grind of professional sports. The time of recovery lengthens as we grow older. This observation is true for professional athletes as well as for old guys doing yard work or some occasional exercise. Take my word for it.