Announcing our Strengthening for Shoulder Pain Workshop on Saturday June 30th, 2018

One of our favorite exercises for chronic shoulder pain is isometric shoulder strengthening. An isometric exercise involves using the muscle without moving the joint through a range of motion. This is a great initial start to a strengthening program to bring stability to a joint.
 
Isometric exercises can be done in all directions to strengthen multiple muscle groups. This easy exercise can be performed by positioning yourself near something that can provide resistance, like a wall. Then gently push your arm into the wall and hold for a few seconds. Sounds straightforward enough, but this is also an easy exercise to compensate with different movement patterns. The pattern we most often see people doing is performing a shoulder exercise using their trunk rather than actually using their shoulder (as demonstrated in the above photos, be like picture 2 not picture 1!) Trunk stability in this exercise is essential for proper shoulder strengthening.
 
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When Body Alignment Does Matter: A Discussion of Chronic Pain and Function

Chronic pain is the leading cause of disability in the United States, with an annual cost estimated to be about $100 billion. These costs are associated with healthcare expenses, lost income, and lost productivity. A majority of adults experience acute pain at least once in their lives with about 28% later developing chronic pain (3).

With the nation’s growing opioid epidemic, there has been considerable emphasis on understanding the sources of chronic pain. Many mistakenly believe that tissue damage is directly correlated with a person’s risk of developing chronic pain. Statements from medical professionals to their patients which include “Your MRI shows that you have the spine of an 80 year old and you can expect to be in pain for the rest of your life” or “just avoid stairs or squatting entirely if it your knees are hurting” just further exacerbate the myths surrounding chronic pain.

There is much confusion regarding body alignment, movement,...

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High Heels and Your Health

For every 1 degree of heel your shoe has, 1 degree of spine, hip, and knee joint reaction is required to compensate…. meaning for every 1 inch of heel your shoe has, it caused 20 degrees of change throughout the joints of the lower extremities and spine! Think even a modest heel is not a detriment to your health? Think again.

Our footwear choices can be a detriment to our joint, bone, and muscle health. The amount of joint reaction caused by wearing heels can be contributing to knee and hip osteoarthritis, lumbar disc compression, and even pelvic floor dysfunction (new moms please avoid heels!). Improper footwear choices are also a common culprit of falls in older adults.

One of the highest impact steps you can take toward improving your health is changing your footwear. The purpose of a shoe is simply to protect our skin from the environment. The shoe should still allow your feet to experience as much natural movement as possible.

Start by looking for shoes that are flat,...

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Your Mindset About Aging is Impacting How You Age

It is an understatement to say that our society has a negative view of aging. It is pervasive in the ways we talk about older adults and our never-ending quest for “anti-aging” everything. We often make the mistake of associating aging with decline, and these views impact the way in which older adults view their health.

We all assume we will decline both mentally and physically as we age. But are we really declining because of age itself or because our views on aging influence our behavior? I would argue the latter.

Discussions about aging often involve emphasis on becoming too weak to participate in life in a meaningful way, or mental decline that is inevitable. When people start to believe they are “too old to…” they stop doing certain activities that are likely keeping them healthy. When people start to believe they can no longer do something simply because they are “too old” then we create a learned dependence upon others to do things...

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Thoughts on Floor Sitting

One of our favorite questions to ask new clients is, “When is the last time you sat on the floor ON PURPOSE?”

If you are not getting yourself on and off the floor on a daily basis, you are missing out on a huge opportunity to maintain your strength and range of motion as you age. Getting yourself safely onto the floor takes your knees and hips through a greater range of motion than sitting in a chair. 

Beyond the act of getting on and off the floor, sitting on the floor as opposed to in a chair has strengthening benefits as well. Floor sitting forces the use of the muscles of your trunk to support you. You are much more likely to keep moving and changing positions while sitting on the floor as well. The possibilities are endless when you are not restricted by a chair.

Not only is floor sitting essential for aging adults, but NEW MOMS I am looking at you! As soon as you are able, start getting on and off the floor with baby. This is a great opportunity to start to...

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The Problem We Should All Be Talking About

In 2015, the costs directly related to fall injuries in older adults totaled over $31 billion to Medicare alone. That’s right. $31 billion. And this does not include costs to other insurance companies or all the secondary costs that come as a result of falls, including increased need for services and care or having to move a family member into a facility from their home.

One out of every four adults over the age of 65 falls each year. Having one fall doubles the risk of having another. Adults over the age of 75 are the highest risk group for recurrent head injuries due to repeat falls. These are staggering statistics and impact each and every one of us. As a greater proportion of our population ages these numbers are expected to rise. The burden of this preventable problem falls on family members, younger generations, and our already taxed healthcare system.

First we should clarify, falls are NOT a normal part of aging. Everyone falls, but excessive falls become a major...

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Normal Aging of the Spine and Low Back Pain

When it comes to back pain, we often hear phrases like “the doctor says I have the spine of an 80 year old” or “there is nothing that can be done about my back pain, it is just old age”. It is completely normal for the spine to begin to change as we age. However, these changes in the spine do not automatically lead to limited mobility and pain. On the other hand, age can cause an increase low back pain for a variety of other reasons. About one in three older adults will experience low back pain. Normal changes in the spine that come with age include postural changes, decrease in strength, changes within the joints, and decreased flexibility. These factors are most likely to contribute to back pain, but are also easily changed.

So am I more likely to have back pain as I age?

The majority of low back pain in older adults is not due to a specific pathology, such as fracture, and is diagnosed as non-specific low back pain. Degenerative changes on...

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Does Flexibility Matter?

We are often asked if stretching is an essential component of a fitness program to prevent injuries. Flexibility, also known as range of motion, is important at any age. But not only is it important to maintain range of motion, to prevent future injury one must also have muscle strength to control their flexibility. There is a very fine balance between keeping the motion of the joints and strength of the muscles in balance. Too much flexibility contributes to reliance on ligaments instead of muscle strength, leading to unstable joints. For a great example, think of how little kids play in a deep squat position for a long amount of time. It takes a lot of muscle strength to stay in that position as well as lower body flexibility to get there in the first place. We are born with a great range of motion, but we tend to lose it as our movement patterns change as we age.

Flexibility prevents your tissues from becoming stiff, allowing you to use certain movement patterns. For...

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Better Health Starts with Mindset

By the time many people seek out our services, they are frustrated by the state of their health. People often get trapped in the cycle of believing they will never get better because of their health conditions or age. After having worked with so many people, we can tell you that mindset makes all the difference. Those that believe they can be healthy get there, no matter where they are starting from. Research agrees and supports the notion that the self-perception of our health influences our health behaviors and outcomes more strongly than other factors.

Health perception includes appearance, function, and ability to perform physical activities. This self perception has been shown to influence physical activity among all age groups. Those who believe they are healthy are likely to be more active. Likewise, those who have a negative perception of their health are less likely to be active, therefore more likely to develop chronic diseases. As we have discussed in the...

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Building Bone Density Starts at Any Age

Building bone density starts decades before osteoporosis is a concern. At the same time, it is never too late to start building bone density even if you have already been diagnosed with osteoporosis. Bone, just like any other tissue in the body, constantly undergoes a process of new cell growth and old cell breakdown. Different factors, generally lifestyle choices, change this ratio and may start to cause problems with bone formation. Osteoporosis does not impact all bones equally, but instead is an indicator that bones that have low density are not being stimulated to grow for a variety of reasons, like inadequate loading. Certain types of stress to the bone caused by movement and weight-bearing stimulate new growth. Bone takes about 10 years to completely turn over, so every 10 years you get a new skeleton!

Mechanics of Bone Growth

Mechanical deformation, like forces from gravity, ground reaction, and muscle contraction, stimulates bone growth and resorption. Muscles...

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