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Disease from Muscular Strain in Mature Life



Men who are engaged in arduous professions and businesses, and who during their first stages of manhood are occupied in making a living, often find themselves easily fatigued and wearied with the labors of the day... If they have been following a seden tary pursuit, their muscular organs, undergoing a slow waste and renovation, become the seats of effete and inactive material, and are wearied by very slight exertions. Some men in this position, being deficient in mental energy, and having practically lost the recollection of active exercise, nurse the weakness under which they are suffering, and let themselves fall into incapacity from actual degeneration of tissue. Other men of more resolute will plunge into exercise as a remedy, and finding at first great benefit therefrom, and discovering an ability for exercise which they im agined was altogether lost in their case, begin to cultivate efforts of a physical kind which are practically athletic in character, and which even in their younger days might not have been altogether judicious.

By this course the mature man entering into active physical work is apt to subject himself to disease. Up to a certain point he is doing the wisest thing possible; he may partly renew his youth by moderate exertion, but when he begins to lay a serious tax upon his remaining strength he almost inevitably comes to grief. This, in fact, is his natural fate under such circumstances. He has passed the time of life for making up, rapidly, his wasting tissues. He has arrived at the time of life when the elastic struct ures of his body have lost much of their elasticity. He has ar rived at a time of life when, all parts of the body being duly formed, the facility for adaptation, under emergency, is impossi ble. He has arrived at a time of life at which it is all but certain that there is some irregularity in the systemic work of the organ ism. Everything, therefore, in the way of physical exertion ought to be like the work of his mind, active truly, but with careful measure of activity and without strain.

Not understanding these truths, the mature man will take to various exercises, in which he will often compete with young men, and feel a special pride in being their equal or superior com petitor. Ile will join a volunteer corps, and go through drill and march after a hard day's work; he will take to the hunting field; he will become a yachtsman or a boatsman; he will exercise him self with long morning walks; or, worst freak of all, he will take to mountain climbing, and make that severe effort one of the com petitive objects of his life.

In the pursuit of these efforts, which will be seen to be all somewhat akin, the risks are numerous. The heart very soon be gins to suffer. It does not grow larger and stronger now, as it would have done in youth; it grows wearied and enfeebled after short efforts. The blood-vessels do not expand and contract as they did, but expand with imperfect contraction, gradually dilate, and sometimes suddenly give way. The lungs are rendered em physematous under comparatively low pressure. The secreting organs, less ready and accommodating in function, are easily dis turbed and made to act out of order. When the exhaustion is very great the digestion is enfeebled, and does not recuperate rapidly. Most important of all, the nervous system is more limit ed in respect to its sustaining power than it was in early life, and is given to fail locally, that is, in parts of the body, as well as generally.

There need be no wonder if amongst so many causes of mis chief active results in the way of disease occur, under extreme exercise, in persons exposed to such risks. In one the failure commences in the heart, and is sudden, the action of the organ being rendered irregular or intermittent. In another the failure is in the blood-vessels, the large arteries near the heart becoming dilated, or the minute arteries, the arterioles of some distant or gan, like the brain, becoming ruptured, with secondary results from the injury to the organ in which the accident has taken place. In a third person the lungs are made the seat of mischief; the bronchial tubes are dilated or the minute vesicles are ruptured over a surface more or less extensive. In a fourth the liver or kidney becomes disturbed in function. In a fifth the stomach is affected and digestion rendered imperfect. In a sixth the nervous system is implicated, the brain fails to perform its active duties, so that mental weariness and somnolency are symptoms of fre quent occurrence; or some special part of the body or limb loses its nervous power, and is said to be palsied or paralyzed.

In these brief notices I simply enumerate the more serious phenomena I have witnessed as results of muscular overwork and strain under the conditions specified.

In addition to the accidents named above is one other of a purely mechanical kind, which not unfrequently happens to per sons of mature life who are undergoing severe muscular work. This is sudden rupture or tear of the fascia covering the muscles, particularly the muscles of the leg, an accident described on page 234 under the head " sprain."

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