How to be old—we're all learning

The unexpected benefits of a bruised rib

This poor young lady is sure to be injured. Her corset is a rib-breaking machine. (Public domain image)

Short read written in 2015. In which I discover the remarkable therapeutic features of a lightly bruised rib.


Last Saturday morning I leaned over my bath, aiming to wipe away some dust before turning on the tap. I was standing on a thin bathmat, bent almost double because the bath, being Japanese, is very deep—when thunk! One foot slipped backwards and my rib cage collided forcibly with the stainless steel rim of the bath.

I felt my rib cage bounce like a balloon. How clever! I said some rude words to the air and thank you to my bones, and proceeded with the bath ritual. Nothing had broken as far as I could tell.

However, the body still had some work to do. The downside is a bit of pain and a temporary absence from the gym. On the upside, this minor injury provides me with two timely benefits.

A mindfulness reminder

First, it’s a lesson in mindfulness. For sound engineering reasons one should never exert heavy angular pressure on a lightweight movable object (the bathmat), so I’ll never do that silly thing again, I hope.

A training tool for belly-breathing

Second, the pain has proved to be an ideal training tool for belly breathing, which I had found so difficult. I’ve become pretty good at breathing without moving my rib cage, believe me. Breathe wrong: pain. Breathe right: whoopee, no problem!

Got it. You can stop now.