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The Doctor Is In – Aging Well by Dr. Randy Kertz

Hello once again – hope all is well out there and everyone has had a great summer. Usually in this column we talk about physical issues that directly affect our playing and how to deal with them or prevent them from happening. In the spirit of prevention, I would like to talk about some general health issues and how some thought and prevention can help us to avoid these problems.

We are all getting older. This can be a positive or negative thing depending on one’s point of view, usually depending on how old they are, but it really is neither. It is just a fact. Along with this fact are certain truths that need to be addressed.

Posture has been covered in this column previously and is extremely important as I’m sure has been made clear. As we get older, our bodies settle into patterns which have been established over decades of movement or lack thereof, and our muscles, bones, and other structures follow suit, with the result that if you have been hunching over music stands and computers for decades, there is a good chance your upper back has started to follow your head in a tilted forward position and you have constant tightness in your neck, and probably can’t move your head from side to side and up and down as easily and as much as you used to. And you may be starting to develop a small hump just below your neck from leaning forward, both of these factors indicating that the natural curves in your spine are changing due to these adopted postures. So pay attention to your posture at all times, keep things within easy reach, especially if you spend lots of time at the computer, and set up your work station with correct ergonomic principles, i.e. the top of the monitor at eye level, mouse, keyboard etc. where you can access them without having to move your whole body, and everything at 90 degree angles, legs bent at the knees, with feet flat on the floor, arms bent at the elbow, and remember to use your string attached to the top of the head principle, which will help to keep your back, head and shoulders straight. See previous columns on posture or email me if you can’t find them and I’ll get into it in further detail.

You gotta move. Obesity is at record proportions. Everybody knows what they should be eating and what they shouldn’t be eating, but equally important is exercise. Regular exercise increases endorphins which elevate your mood, gives you energy, burns fat, aids in digestion, lowers cholesterol, all concerns as we make our way through life’s journey. If you haven’t exercised in a while, getting started is as easy as taking a walk, and adding on from there, working out, doing yoga, calisthenics such as jumping rope, etc. If you haven’t worked out for a while, you should consult a doctor before undertaking a strenuous exercise program, and a lot of us haven’t seen a doctor in a while so that is a good thing to do too. Regular checkups help to prevent things from happening, just like the suggestions that I make in this column for bass playing in an injury free fashion.

Everything in moderation.  I hung around with people older than me most of my life, and am starting to see their health decline or cease because they never slowed down. You know what I mean. Take a look at what you are doing to your body, and see how you are feeling, and make changes if necessary. This includes the ‘energy drinks.’ The caffeine or other stimulants found within can increase heart rate and stimulate the nervous system, and should be used with caution especially for those with high blood pressure. And if you don’t know if you have high blood pressure you should find out.

My intention here is not to lecture or bum anybody out, but we are ultimately responsible for ourselves and our health, and if the bass players are getting sick and moving on prematurely then guitar players are going to be recruited to fill the bass spots and nobody wants that do they?

Next article-back to bass!

Peace and happy thoughts to you all,

Randy

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