2008-01-18 / Columnists

Eye On Physical Therapy

Commentary By Dr. Tim Rohrs, DPT

This new year of 2008 is just two weeks old now.

How are those resolutions doing? Have they been forgotten or given up on already?

I have found that, as with many goals and resolutions in life, the more specific they are the more likely we are to keep them.

Resolutions to lose weight or get stronger or stop smoking are great but not very specific. As with physical therapy, a goal of "increased strength and range of motion" does not really mean much. A goal of "being able to walk 20 blocks without pain" or "lift a gallon of milk shoulder height" are much better goals and let us know when we have succeeded. Perhaps, a goal of fitting into a size 6 dress or to not smoke just for today can help motivate to succeed.

This past weekend, I went to Disney World to watch my youngest brother run the Disney Marathon. During this stay, we played golf on Friday and Sunday. Although I hadn't played for close to six months, it was good to get out there.

My back was sore after the round on Friday, but I didn't think much of it. Sunday was a different story.

On the first hole I threw my back out on the follow through swing. The pain was so severe that I could not play the rest of the course and I experienced every bump in that golf cart like it was an ice pick in the small of my back. The pain took my breath away. Now, as the designated driver and chauffer for my brother, I started to contemplate my golfing future.

Sure, I was saddened that I could not play that day; I certainly was a little miffed by paying for a full round and losing that money. More importantly, I had thoughts of if I could ever play again; if this would happen every time I attempted to swing a club. Although I haven't been playing very long, and I am not very good (I stink), to have the choice to play taken away by pain and/or physical limitations was disconcerting and left me feeling distressed.

Since I had plenty of time to think while driving around the course, I also reflected on this marathon race. My brother is just 3 years my junior and has run the NYC Marathon and others around the country. Just 4 years ago he had never run. Not that running a marathon is my idea of fun, but, I started feeling that at some point in the future it would no longer be an option or choice for me. Today I could take up running and train, lose weight and perhaps participate. For how much longer is that a realistic option? Could I do it 5 years from now, or 10 years from now?

This is a new year!

If there has been an idea in the back of your head, perhaps of bicycling or hiking or playing golf: DO IT!

Maybe you want to return to school: start with one course. DO IT!

Time waits for no one.

Make sure every day you take some small step towards achieving that goal.

It may be as small as taking a walk every day, or adding a piece of fruit to your diet.

Every journey, no matter how long, starts with just one step.

One of my greatest fears is to picture myself as an old man filled with regrets of what might have been or what I could have achieved. Get on that road today; we won't know when that road is no longer available to us until it is gone.

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