• Alison Hodge
    It is often noted that the the age profile for ringers is increasing so more ringers are suffering from dodgy knees, aching hips, shoulders that don't work as well as they used to, or other symptoms.

    When having a medical consultation, sports people may be offered advice such as -

    "sorry, you will have to refrain from your golf while your shoulder settles or you will do more damage to it" or

    "swimming will be an excellent activity to help your aching hip"

    Ringers may ask the medics - "well what about going bell ringing?"

    Since it is unlikely that many medics will have any knowledge of what is involved in ringing, the response may well be to stop ringing at least for a short time, if not completely. Are we losing ringers as a result when ringing may actually not be a problem for some conditions, and could even be beneficial in some cases?
  • J Martin Rushton
    Slight tangent: the advice for pregnant women was that if they were competent ringers they could continue, but learners should stop. Perhaps something similar would apply to age/infirmity? I don't know.
    For knees/hips, moving to lighter bells may help for a while, but ultimately if you can't stand for a 5 minute set of call changes it is time to retire. You also need to have a realistic appreciation of how easily you can get down the tower in an emergency.
  • John Harrison
    if they were competent ringers they could continue, but learners should stopJ Martin Rushton

    I've not heard that, but a competent ringer will certainly impose less severe stresses on the body than someone less competent. But that's not the same as learner v non-learner. On the one hand some established ringers ring in a way that could put sudden extreme stresses on joints and muscles and on the other a responsive student who has Ben coached from the start to develop a smooth efficient style could probably moderate the risk of over stress.
  • Lucy Chandhial
    Three ringers I regularly ring with have all had significant operations in the last four years and simply not mentioned bellringing as an activity, knowing that a medic with little knowledge will suggest they stop and trusting that they can feel for themself what feels manageable as they recover. I think experienced ringers can make that judgement and sometimes it’s the stairs that are the problem rather than the ringing. A little bit like with a learner who visits the tower for the first time a simple safety net of someone close by willing to take over the rope if needed let’s someone try ringing a bell they are used to for the first time after an operation and see how it feels.
    And… not everyone is an older ringer when this happens (but I appreciate it is more and more likely as we get older that we will have operations or long term conditions to manage and need to adjust to new physical capacity.
    Every time I give blood I’m told not to do any physical activity that day and then I cycle to bellringing and ring up the tenor without any issues, but I would know if I felt a little faint or sick and then be more careful what I tried.
    Then there are ringers who find ringing a really useful exercise for stretching back muscles, keeping flexible and gentle activity which keeps us fit. The medics also don’t know enough to suggest bellringing when they suggest yoga classes or a walk in the park as good for mental and physical health!
  • Stella Bianco
    I suffer from arthritis in my right shoulder and struggle to ring call changes on the treble for more than 5 minutes at a time. I have had to adapt my style and am considering ringing left handed. My surgeon and physiotherapist both recommend continuing to ring, if it is safe. After 60 years ringing, I reckon I will be the best judge. Fortunately, I ring at a GF tower and was able to return to ringing three months after a replacement hip operation . The wet slippery stone path worries me more ...
  • Paul Wotton
    Yet we rely on older ringers. This morning, Sunday 17th March, Wells Cathedral (10 - Tenor 56 cwt), call changes on 10 as part of service ringing, the average age of the ringers of back four bells was seventy-one.
  • Peter Sotheran
    After a bad fall, I had a biceps tenotomy* to my right arm - consequently that the arm has only about 60% of its former 'pulling' power and raising it to backstroke can be a real ache. Occasionally I apply Ibuleve gel before I go ringing, more routinely, I ring the back stroke with my left arm only and my right arm hanging, relaxed, by my side, and use both hands on the sally. This works well for me.
    (* For those 'in the trade': it was a biceps longhead tenotomy with decompression and rotator cuff repair.)
  • Peter Sotheran
    If you have trouble ringing the lighter bells, surprising as it may seem, you may have less discomfort ringing the mid-range bells. With lighter bells what you are missing is the bell's own momentum. I hadn't realised, until I damaged my shoulder, how much I relied on the momentum of the bell to help lift my arms, especially at backstroke. As your hands pass you chin on the way up to either stroke, the momentum of the bell helps lift them to the end of the stroke.

    Our trebles weigh around 2-3 cwts. It is necessary to consciously raise the arms as not doing so is almost a prelude to ringing down! I now avoid the problem by ringing the mid-range bells.
  • Stella Bianco
    Many thanks, Peter. Our treble weighs c3cwt and I tried your technique, but prefer limiting extending my arms fully. Arthritis is my problem. I have had an MRI scan and agreed to have a full shoulder replacement in July or a reversal if the rotator cuff is too badly worn.
  • Peter Sotheran
    Stella, I can see that our different conditions are causing similar but different problems. Mine is the lack of mucle-power to raise one arm to full height; yours is the far greater discomfort of arthritis grinding away against movement. Good luck in July!
  • J Martin Rushton
    The treble where I used to ring is just over 4cwt so perhaps "lighter bells" will always be relative. At the tower where I learnt to ring the treble is 5-3-7 and oddly enough I found it more flighty than the 4cwt one.
  • John Harrison
    flightiness is more about the rope than the bell.
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