A dancing animal.

December 2, 2010 § 4 Comments

My father was having a hard time sitting.  Although he usually toughed pain out, it finally got so bad he took his sore butt to the doctor.

A desk bound chemical engineer, my Dad was suffering from “Weaver’s Bottom,” a painful and embarrassing condition was named for workers who sat for hours on a hard bench tossing a shuttle back and forth.

The name of the condition is archaic, but we workers, we possessors of bodies, still injure ourselves with repetition and stillness.

My work-related diagnosis is carpal tunnel syndrome.  The keyboard is stealing my manual dexterity, locking the pinky on my right hand.

To avoid typing I sometimes use voice recognition software, but it is hard to have confidence in a typist who begins letters to my editor, Vicky, with, “Dear Sticky,” and notes to my agent with, “Hijack.”

I have tried chiropractic, surgery, cortisone shots, an ergonomic keyboard.  I’ve shoved my aching hands into a bowl of uncooked rice heated in the microwave.  These solutions soothe, or mitigate, but none can cure an injury I insist on repeating daily.

Chances are that you too are feeling the effects of a sedentary job.

For our closest coworker, the computer, being still is not a problem.  Although almost smart enough to be considered a sentient life form, our computers live locked inside hard-shell bodies, unable to even imagine motion.  While we, who are gifted with motion, conform to the limitations of that machine the way we would if visiting a sick relative in the hospital.

After keeping our motionless computers company  for hours we  rise from our chairs sore and dull.  To make up for our abusive stillness we take our bodies to the gym, as if taking a dog for a walk.

How have we forgotten?  The human body is a dancing animal.   Given free rein it moves with abandon.  To the body the value of exercise is joy, not grim minutes clocked doing yet one more rep.

Machines are  morphing fast.  Like the hand-loom, the keyboard will become obsolete, my injury as archaic as Weaver’s Bottom.

But what of the human body, a machine which relies on the slow wisdom of evolution to change?  It could take millennia to replace its need for random motion with a biology of stillness.

The bodies we inhabit won’t live to see the day.

So how do we satisfy the demands of the body for motion?  According to The Journal of the American Medical Association, the body requires 150 minutes of exercise a week.

You can clock those minutes and count reps—or you can let the dancing animal off its short leash.  Instead of treating your body like one more machine to be operated by a series of commands from your brain, why not trust your body to lead?

Stand in the sunlight.  Spread your arms.  Feel the music.

Your body will tell you what it wants to do next.

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§ 4 Responses to A dancing animal.

  • This is beautiful. Adrian I am forever amazed by your talents. Every time I happen to run into you, a smile is returned & you are so exhuberant with never a single complaint. Aaargh about carpal tunnel. You must keep writing for you & for us, your readers.

    PS a square of organic, dark chocolate taken orally 1x a day or, actually, whenever you feel like it won’t fix it, but it sure would be fun, eh?


  • Judy Ransom says:

    Truer words are hard to find … dancing is far more fun than pilates, hands down! I’ve battled with carpal tunnel for years – had to give up knitting, and sometimes my hands go numb when I’m playing guitar. Dang that computer … but writing longhand makes my hands cramp and lock up. Some days I have to wear splints on both wrists, and need to dip my hands and wrists in hot paraffin to ease the pain. The ergonomic keyboard didn’t do much for me, but I use a long gel support along the base of my keyboard to rest my wrists on, and a mouse pad with a wrist gel pad, too. I think what helps me most is taking B6 (Pyridoxine) twice a day. Great post, Adrian, and I hope you somehow find a good dose of pain-free days ahead.


    • I’m having a trouble playing guitar too, which is really sad. It is hard to believe that tapping the keys can do so much damage. Hopefully our hands won’t fall off before St. George time rolls around again!


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