Exercising with the Boss

At fifteen months, Charlie is getting us to do things that we physically might not ordinarily do. We do it to see the smile on his face and to hear his belly laugh – even if it might be to our own detriment.  But it seems that our grandson is talented in a way we never expected: he is actually a physical therapist! And, here is his prescription for our ailments:

Back Strengthening Exercise Part 1: With arms stretching up and a big smile on his face, Charlie enthusiastically says “baboom, baboom.”  This is my cue to pick him up and carry him into the forbidden patio room so that he can see the five month old helium filled “babooms” from his birthday party that miraculously still float to the ceiling – even if he has just seen the whole thing 5 minutes before.

Back Strengthening Exercise Part 2: Before I put him down, as he is braced on my right hip, held with my right arm, I become horrified strengthened as he leans to the side almost out of my grasp. At that point, desperate, my left arm reaches behind me to grab his legs. Now, to my dismay amazement, as I bend forward for balance (and stretching), I am holding him across my lower back – my right arm a bit behind me holding his upper body, my left arm behind me holding his legs. SadlyI know this is not the end of the exercise: there is the expectation of “the spin.” As I twirl around with 23 pounds on bent back, I look to make sure there is a soft couch nearby to cushion our landing.

NOTE: If you try this, don’t expect results right away. After an hour or so, you can resume the upright position feeling much less pain more limber.

Arthritic Finger Exercise: Charlie has been playing “catch” since he was 5 or 6 months old. At that time, we just rolled the ball to each other. He’d flick it to us with his fingers using the back of his hand, and we’d do the same. This should be an excellent exercise for arthritis sufferers (my husband and I thankfully do not belong to this group – yet).

Shoulder Strengthening Exercise: About a month ago, Charlie discovered “force” – a topic covered on the PBS program, “Sid the Science Kid,” which we didn’t think he understood. He now brings the ball over his head and pitches it overhand so that it goes about 20 feet. Naturally, he expects us to participate, so we have to repeat the motion. The results: our shoulders feel much better (especially after the heating pad), our aim is more accurate and my husband thinks he’d be perfect for this year’s Mets team.

Knee and Leg Stretches: As we sit on the floor together, Charlie makes sure we are in position. He doesn’t like it if our legs are under us, or together, or crossed, and he will physically move them so that they are outstretched and separated. This may hurt a bit at first, but when Charlie has decided that everything is in place (just before the muscles of leg and knee are ready to snap), there is a sense of reliefwellness that I can’t quite describe.

NOTE: If you’ve read this far, I have to apologize that this post didn’t deliver what you expected from its title:  a Bruce Springsteen exercise video.  The misleading title was really for your own good – I didn’t know any other way to get you to read a very helpful and important article on exercise.

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