Try this quick test for balance: how long are you able to stand on one leg without arm support?
To set up: keep a chair or something you can hold if needed nearby and stand in front of a mirror with your feet hip width apart, shoes and socks off. Place your hands on your hips, shift your weight to one side and pick your opposite foot off the floor. How long can you hold this position?
An adult around age 30 should be able to comfortably hold this position for 30 seconds. In adults over age 65, an inability to hold this for at least 5 seconds indicates a greater risk of falls. Were you surprised by your results?
We often get asked why we spend so much time practicing single leg standing in therapy. This skill is important because this is the position we spend the most amount of time in while walking! In order to take a step forward, you have to stand on one leg to allow the other leg to swing forward. If you are having difficulty with single leg standing, it is likely your...
More than two-thirds of pregnant women report low back pain and up to one-fifth report pelvic pain during pregnancy. Reports of pain tend to increase later in pregnancy and interfere with daily activities, sleep, and work (3). About 20% of women who experience low back or pelvic pain during pregnancy report persistent pain for up to 3 years following pregnancy (2).
Chronic pain is complicated and much research has revolved around the term “pain catastrophizing”. Catastrophizing is a process of becoming fixated on pain, magnifying the effects of it, feeling helpless, and expecting negative outcomes associated with pain. Research shows that those who catastrophize are more likely to develop persistent chronic pain and disability. Women who demonstrated pain catastrophizing during their pregnancy were found to be less likely to have been active throughout their pregnancy and more likely to develop persistent pain after (2).
The recommendation of daily physical activity...
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,...
“Losers have goals, winners have systems” -Scott Adams
Most of us fall into the trap of setting goals rather than focusing on the habits that help us achieve outcomes, particularly when it comes to our health.
We focus on the results rather than the processes. An important component of my interactions with people as a physical therapist is to discuss and agree upon goals for the course of care. By goals I mean what they are hoping to be able to do with the help of physical therapy. When I ask people what they want as an end result, most will tell me to be able to participate in hobbies like travel, dancing, or fishing without pain or having the energy to keep up with their grandchildren. These focus on quality of life rather than health metrics, such as pounds lost, blood sugar levels, or blood pressure readings.
However, when most people write out their health goals they focus on the metrics rather than quality of life. For example, one common goal is to lose a certain...
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...
Did you know that 25% of your bones and muscles are located below the ankle?
Our feet were designed to be versatile with an infinite number of movements due to the number of joints and intrinsic foot muscles, yet most of us hardly spend time thinking about our feet.
They are the foundation of our body, however the care and maintenance of the muscles of our feet is almost unheard of. Many of us cram our feet into whatever shoe we like the looks of, with no regard to how that shoe might be impacting our function.
Today’s epidemic of foot damage including bunions, hammer toes, collapsed arches, foot pain, and secondary effects of diabetes including neuropathy, poor circulation, and even amputation are all considered par for the course. We blame genetics, not our lifestyles. What if the answer was as simple as mobilizing our feet and changing our footwear? There is a solution, but not the passive solutions many of us have become accustomed to when turning toward modern...
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...
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...
Last month I attended a Move Your DNA weekend workshop at Boomerang Pilates in Toronto hosted by a Nutritious Movement Certified RES. This workshop is intended for anyone who has read Move Your DNA by Katy Bowman, MS to refine the exercises covered in the book. The book uses biomechanics as a lens to explore how our environment has shaped our movement and vice versa. It is designed to help the reader take control of their own health and undo years of bad movement habits. We spent the weekend exploring the use of corrective exercise to improve body alignment for better health.
For me, this weekend was just a small part of a 2 year long process to become a certified RES, which involves nearly 350 hours of movement training. The program heavily emphasizes having a good understanding of your own movement in order to help others improve theirs. My background is in physical therapy, meaning I have spent the better part of the last 10 years extensively studying the human body,...
Mounting research indicates that getting an MRI for chronic back pain is more harmful than it is helpful. When someone walks into their doctors office looking for low back pain relief, imaging and medication might be recommended. However, an MRI report may come back with results like “degenerative joint disease” or “bulging discs”. Both of these findings are highly normal and present in up to 50% of the general population. In fact, it would be abnormal if the spine did not show any signs of aging. Once we hear a diagnosis like “degenerative joint disease” we think this is causing our back pain and assume that we will be in pain the rest of our life. This could not be further from the case.
Normal MRI Findings
60% of adults over 60 years of age will show abnormal MRI results, regardless of whether or not they have pain. In some cases, people do have low back pain and an MRI will show no abnormal results. This does not mean pain is...
Based on our years of experience in helping our clients reach their health goals through better movement, we compiled this list of our top 10 tools for starting a movement practice. Get your free copy today and sign up for our newsletter!