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Our Muscles Respond to Use

Updated: May 24, 2021

Three years ago, when my Doctor discovered my slipping neck disk, he sent me to a specialist--where my image of myself changed. The Specialist said to squeeze her outstretched hand, like a hand shake. I hesitated. She was small with fragile looking hands. I mumbled something about hurting her, but clasped her hand and squeezed. She said, “Squeeze harder.” I grunted in reply as if to indicate, you asked for it, and unleased the full crushing force of my powerful grip. She calmly replied, “Okay” and let go of my hand.

On the way home, I figured she had a trick that prevented me from totally destroying her hand and set about discovering how she’d done it. After a few failed attempts, I figured it out. I stretched out my fingers and tightened every muscle and tendon in my hand. That’s it. My hand was now an uncrushable rock.

When I got home, I asked my son to squeeze my hand while creating the 'rock.' He did and immediately my knuckles rolled over one another and my hand folded together like a limp taco. It was time to man-up and admit my grip strength was shot from lack of use.

I read that simply making a fist and squeezing will do the trick. The article said that when you think you’re squeezing as tight as possible, squeeze more. I also squeeze the grips of the two five-pound weights I use. The entire incident got me wondering what other muscles have I neglected. Quickly dropping to the floor, I attempted a pushup. It’s sad for this former airborne infantryman to admit, but I couldn’t even do one. I had nothing. Two years later, I can comfortably do ten, and fourteen with some difficulty. My goal is twenty and I expect to reach it by 2022. My other goal is to be able to twist open most jar lids in the kitchen and get that nodding smile of approval.

Fitbit is a Motivator

The last item for this post is the use of a Fitbit. My daughter gave me her old one and what a motivator. I set a goal of four thousand steps per day, which is not even two miles (4,600 steps), but consistently fell short. I then realized that keeping my normal routine didn’t produce four thousand steps, and that I was going to have to work for it. I learned to park the car as far from the entrance of the grocery store as possible and to love walking the aisles. I gleefully go out to check the mail and eagerly jump up from the table to get a missing condiment (well, sometimes anyway). Getting five or six thousand steps is now routine. In the evening if I notice I’m low on steps, I’ll walk around the living room or the outside veranda. It’s healthy exercise without going to a gym. There are a variety of Fitbit to choose from. Mine is simple. It shows steps and sleep pattern such as number of times awake and restless. Modern Fitbits will continuously monitor your heart rate, how many steps you've climbed, steps walked, and more. For perspective, the NIH states that male children routinely get 12-16K steps per day while a reasonable target for healthy adults is 10K.

Let me know how you include exercise into your daily routine. If you feel this post is worth sharing, send it to friends and tell them to subscribe. Subscribing is free and subscribers automatically receive new posts.


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