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What’s Alan’s fountain of youth secret? When it comes to physical therapy, motivation matters. Hint: Patients call her Emily “Popsicle”!

By LMQC Battle of the Bulge blogger, Alan Sivell

At my workplace, I am always the oldest guy in the room.

For the most part, I am able to mask the 45+ years age difference between my students and me. But lately, I have had worries.

Age sneaks up on us all

I worry that my back will go out when I put the podium on the desk in speech class. Or that I’ll drop an eraser and have to pick it up in excruciating slow slo-mo while the whole class watches.

I’ve lost several pens this year when I’ve dropped them and decided it would cost more to pick them up than to replace them.

Lucky for my pride and me, my back locked up in private … well, at least not in class. I was in the alley working on a garden when I sat down and couldn’t get back up.

But the location was unlucky too. I had to call my wife’s name over and over to get her to rescue me. I had to be loud enough for her to hear me, but not so loud that the neighbors would come out and Facebook my tenuous predicament.

Off to meet my therapist

The next day my wife made an appointment for me with her physical therapist, Emily Pospischil (her patients call her “Popsicle”) at ORA’s new Orthopedic and Physical Therapy Clinic at Northwest Boulevard and Division, Davenport. ORA’s clinic houses both physicians and physical therapists and is powered by Rock Valley Physical Therapy.

“Typically,” Emily said, “males will attend therapy as a result of injury or inability to perform their recreational or daily activities. It’s not generally for maintenance reasons that PT is initiated.”

True in my case. Susan had been after me for months to go to PT to “loosen up.” I was becoming one of those old people I made fun of as a kid: I couldn’t turn around when backing the car up.

My excuse was: I go to the Y almost every day. What more could I do to stop from turning into a creaky (not cranky!) old man? Apparently, a lot.

“It’s beneficial to vary our workout routines,” Emily said. “Otherwise, we aren’t challenging our body’s fitness level or increasing strength and endurance adequately.  We should strive to keep our body guessing for the best results.”

Paying the price for extra flexibility – worth every penny

Emily tells me this while giving me stretching exercises that I must do daily, costing me about 10 minutes. It’s a small price for added flexibility.

PTs are modern magicians. I figured my weak back was a sign of … my age. I figured I needed to live with it.

Emily knew just what exercises to add and when. And working with a PT helps motivate you to stretch every day when stretching is not your thing. And it is NOT my thing.

“As we age, our muscles loose elasticity,” Emily said.

“We lose overall muscle mass, and generally we don’t use as much ROM (range of motion) during daily activities. Therefore, gains in flexibility won’t occur as quickly, but there is still potential for muscle lengthening to occur.”

Alan’s back is back

After a few weeks of working with Emily, I’m picking up the podium and retrieving my dropped pens and erasers with confidence. I can even turn around while backing up the car!