** this is not medical advice **

What happens when a beer leaguers body breaks down

“Father Time is Undefeated.”

I’m sure most of us have heard some version of this mantra before. Never in my sports career have I been confronted with that inevitability more than this year. I had contemplated retirement from moderately competitive sport (read as: Beer League and above) for a year or two, but now it looks like it’s possible that my retirement might be forced. As I type this, I am preparing to have prolotherapy injections in my right elbow tomorrow to repair a torn tendon and ligaments.

I’m 42 years old, and the best my body has to give athletically is way behind me. Concussions, torn ligaments, snapped tendons, ripped muscles, stress fractures, broken fingers, cortisone shots. I’ve had all of them. Fun fact: tendon sheaths take almost twice as long to heal as bone. If the prolotherapy fails, it’s on to platelet rich plasma therapy (PRP) or surgery. And that would be just so I could work without pain, not play.

I thought it might be helpful to some of you for me to share my experiences and regrets with the various ways I tried or didn’t try to keep my body healthy and in playing shape over the past 20 years. I am not a doctor, and none of this is medical advice. It’s simply my experience.

Regrets

I should’ve paid a lot more attention to what I ate and drank before the age of 35. Too much booze, not enough “not booze.” I lost out on some really critical years for muscle building in my pursuit of the party. But try telling 23-year-old me that we shouldn’t have those last few shots on a Friday night so we can get up and kill it in the gym on a Saturday. I also did not care much about the food and calories I was consuming because for a long time I felt I could “out-train” whatever crap I was putting in my body. Eventually my metabolism slowed down, and my poor habits caught up with me.

Cortisone Shots

Mixed bag of results and mixed feelings here. I had a cortisone shot in my left foot for peroneal tendonitis 8 years ago. I got immediate relief and it’s never been a problem since. The cortisone shot I got in my right elbow this past October lasted two months. The one I got the same elbow in February lasted a month, thinned my skin, and atrophied fat and muscle in my arm. I’m not anti-cortisone. It sorted out my foot proper. But I regret having a 2nd injection after the first one in my elbow failed. Here is an article that talks about thinning skin and fat and muscle atrophy from cortisone injections.

Side note: why can’t I have a cortisone injection in my gut to melt away the 15 pounds of fat I can’t seem to lose?

Prolotherapy/PRP

Short section here because of never had prolotherapy or platelet rich plasma (PRP) injections. My wife has had PRP for torn labrums. The procedure looked rough when I watched it, but she got great results. I’ll have to report back on these after I have my own.

Physical Therapists

I have a really good one and it’s done wonders for me. She identified weaknesses in my glutes and low back that I was compensating for with quads, hamstrings, and upper back muscles and prescribed a litany of exercises to address my deficiencies. She also specializes in myofascial release treatment and traced my back, knee, and ankle problems upstream to head and neck issues. To paraphrase her treatment plan, “We have to start at the top and work our way down.”

Again, I am not a doctor… I’m just a small dude who way over achieved in sports based on size and strength alone. I’m a goalie with quick reflexes and a terrible short-term memory, so I throw myself back in front of a shot before I remember how much it hurt the last time.

Hold a good thought for me tomorrow that the injections will work. Take care of your body. Maybe we all can squeeze out one more season.

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