Look after your body when your young how many of us have said that ? For me the long days with big hill bags, carrying heavy loads and stretchers have taken their toll. Also the wet gear and bivies long call – outs in wild weather for many years batter your body. I was planning to get out today on the hills but the knee is still stiff and sore from Tuesdays wander in the sun at Kintail. It was a long day for me 14 hours before I got home and the sun always takes it out of me. So I am at home with lots to do.
In my early days in the RAF Mountain Rescue Team we carried a lot on the hill ( just in case) but to be fair we were a rescue team and could end up anywhere after a helicopter pick – up. Also carrying a Stretcher after a long day at night on a Rescue is never easy especially after a day on the hill already and various slips, trips etc happen. Add to that over 100 hill days a year, plus an expedition each year for 40 years and the body is a bit battered. A slip when your younger is easier to recover from and you reactions are quicker but now a slip or trip can hurt.
Light is Right – Nowadays, I travel as light as possible for the conditions and gear has improved so much that is a lot easier. Gone is the heavy kit and footwear where appropriate I am back to wearing my hill running shoes when the terrain permits. I have used walking poles for over 30 years (two poles) and would not be going on the hills without them as my knees are pretty shot. We always ran off the hills every day no problem when young but nowadays I take it a lot easier. Walking Poles are a must for me now, they take a bit of getting used to but worth it for their benefits.
Lifting – Watch what you lift I was unloading wagons in my job for many years even ships in the Persian Gulf before Health and Safety and have had various back problems. Nowadays we are a lot wiser and still make mistakes but watch what you lift or do with your back.
The effect of the Sun and the weather – The sun and weather has huge effect on your skin It is important to use sunscreen and looking after your skin in all seasons, for years we never used sunscreen and my skin is pretty damaged after over 50 years on the hills. So be aware and ensure you screen up whenever possible, especially when young. I have lost a few pals to skin cancer all were outdoor enthusiast. Men moisturising after a day out in the open is now acceptable after getting battered by the face cleansing wind even in winter.
Injury’s – If you get an injury give your body time to repair not easy even at my age but worth it. I had many problems with my feet over the years. Good socks and proper fitting footwear is important. Your feet change over the years and be aware of that. I also visit a Chiropodist every 3 months and that is the best thing I have done as what a difference to my feet and well worth the cost. Look at the work your feet do every day far less on the hills.
Afterwards Care – When I come off the hills I change wet/damp gear and dry my feet and put on sandals to air the feet well worth while. I also re – hydrate with water on the way home from the hills or a walk. Simple but it all helps the recovery. Use specialist advice for injuries it may cost but they work if you get someone who you trust.
Diet and Exercise – Age means to many some changes a more sedate job for some more time sitting at a computer. I put on a lot of weight working shifts in the ARCC, especially the 13 hour night shift. You have to be careful what you eat and how you exercise and it is a constant battle for me as I get older but I am trying. Eat well and properly and I hardly drink alcohol now so that is another worry over.
My mate is 75 and still along with many others is very active and we had a long day on Tuesday, the hills and wild places are full of the older generation. This is great to see people out enjoying the hills and moving well. Hopefully I have years to go a bit slower than in the past but great to be out.
So there you go a few tips for looking after yourself, if your young please look after your body. There are so many who give it all up well before their should.
There are lots of pals with new hips, knees etc the mountains certainly can take their toll but we can help,, so please look after that body it needs all the care you can give it.
Any thoughts? Warming up/ Warming down? after the hill?
Yoga – now that is the way forward ?