POLITICS

Week 3: Not feeling it…and then there’s the arthritis

Learning to listen to my body

Terri E. Givens - terrigivens.com
3Streams
Published in
3 min readDec 6, 2023

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At the beach near Stanly Park in Vancouver, BC

As noted in my previous post, this past week I was a fellow at Green College on the campus of the University of British Columbia. I was invited to give a talk about my book, Radical Empathy. Green college is an amazing place where graduate students from around campus come together in a residence where they host speakers on an almost nightly basis. I was happy to be there to re-connect with a former student from McGill who had gone on to law school. Here’s a link to my talk:

I enjoyed the visit, but I knew getting my workouts in would be a challenge. In particular, on Tuesday, I just wasn’t feeling up to doing it. But I did it, anyway. I knew I needed to keep up with my workouts as part of my rehab for my back. In fact, the main reason I signed up with a personal trainer was to make sure I could get through those days where I wasn’t feeling it. On top of that, with the colder weather comes increased arthritis pain. It doesn’t directly impact my workouts, but the pain in my knees makes me feel creaky and it takes me longer to warm up.

I have mainly been on here talking about my back pain, but I’ve also been dealing with arthrities in my knees, elbows, neck, and I guess part of my back pain is due to arthritis. Everyone seems to assume that my back pain and arthritis are due to my years of running, but I have always argued that my high level of activity, including running, probably staved off the pain that I’m feeling now. This is supported by research, including a 2023 article listed I the National Institutes of Health that indicates osteoarthrities is brought on by age, and other factors, not necessarily running.

Conclusion: From this largest surveyed group of marathon runners, the most significant risk factors for developing hip or knee arthritis were age, BMI, previous injury or surgery, and family history. There was no identified association between cumulative running history and the risk for arthritis.

That’s for my chiropractor who was telling me this morning that all my years of running probaby brought on my arthritis. I’ve never believed that, and in some ways, it wouldn’t matter, anyway. I’m overall a healthier person for my many years of running. And speaking of that, let’s talk about getting back to being healthy. As I was walking through Stanley Park in Vancouver, I saw a cool statue of a sprinter — it reminded my of my glory days running track, but it was also fun to see a sprinter honored in such a way.

Harry Jerome (1940–1982) represented Canada at 3 Olympic games

Although seeing the statue didn’t make me feel inclined to run, I did end up walking a lot that day, over 21,000 steps! I love to explore cities on foot, but that was certainly overdoing it, even though I was wearing both back and knee support. Moderation is key and I could tell that all the walking was taking a toll. So I’ll be icing my knee today and making sure my trainer doesn’t push it too hard tomorrow.

Listening to my body is going to be VERY important as I get older and my body has more challenges to deal with. I need to focus in on nutrition and my promise for this month was to look for someone to help with the mental health side of things — I’m working on that. So to all who have days when you aren’t feeling like working out or the pain is too much, there’s lots of us out here who understand. There will always be some good days and some bad days, but I’m sticking with what I promised myself to do — while not overdoing it 😊❤️.

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Terri E. Givens - terrigivens.com
3Streams

Professor of Political Science, McGill University. Higher Ed Leadership, Immigration & European politics. Author of Radical Empathy & The Roots of Racism