On Weakness

Weakness is a relative term. When most people refer to someone as weak, they refer to someone who’s small, usually someone who isn’t very athletic. This is often an unfair assessment.

For example, when I close the peanut butter jar, the Wife can’t open it. I don’t feel I’m putting much torque on it, but what’s hand-tightened for me may as well have been closed with an impact wrench for her. Does that make her weak? No, she’s just a lot smaller than I am. She might starve to death if I tightened all the jars, but she keeps in shape with tai chi and running and she can lift more than enough for day-to-day life.

To me, weakness starts at the point your muscles and bones can’t support your own weight. Here’s an example:

This guy did nothing more than jump up and down, and he broke his leg. It doesn’t look like he twisted it or landed on it wrong. This is not an activity that should lead to a serious injury like a broken bone. In taking another look at him, you can see he’s a bit overweight, and he’s soft (for lack of a better term). There is no muscle tone in his arms or legs. I hope the hunch in his back is intentional given he’s portraying a zombie, but it’s hard to be sure.

It’s one thing if age or a disease takes its toll on someone’s muscles or skeleton, but it depresses the hell out of me to see kids and adults in this kind of shape due to simple lack of activity. It’s obvious this kid is really into World of Warcraft, so it’s not a stretch to assume this kid sits in front of the computer all day and doesn’t get a lot of physical activity. It’s no mystery that if your body’s not moving around, muscle and bone start to break down.

I hate to keep milking the stereotype, but I wonder about his nutrition, too. If this kid’s on a Cheetos-and-Mountain-Dew diet like some gamers profess to be, then there’s a good chance he’s also dealing with skeletal weakness. Calcium plays a role in muscular contractions, so if the body isn’t getting enough calcium to power simple muscle movement, then the body may start stealing calcium from the bones. Even if it’s not leaching calcium from bone directly, it’s absorbing all the calcium it can for muscle and denying the skeleton its share.

Think about it: what’s the body’s greater priority? Keeping the skeleton strong or keeping the heart pumping, the diaphragm moving, and the guts rolling? Involuntary muscle needs calcium, too.

The moral of the story: get up and do something.

I have an obvious bias toward the martial arts, but really, anything that gets someone off their ass is enough. It’s also important to get the kids started young. If a kid isn’t all that big but his knees are buckling inward, it’s a sign his quality of life is not going to be very good in a few years.

By the way, this isn’t just an issue of weight! Being large may put more strain on muscle and bone, but take another look at the kid in the video. He’s a little chubby, sure. But is he huge? Not at all. Most people would just call him a big kid. Drastic changes in diet can help someone who’s extremely overweight, but weakness is only going to be fixed with activity.

Nobody’s saying we must all be the picture of health. Hell, I’m still trying to shed weight I gained after a retail promotion in the ’90s. All I’m saying is don’t let your body get to the point it prevents you from doing the simple activities you love.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

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