Creating a Better Sleep Environment

Good quality sleep is a basic human need that is often overlooked in the discussion on health and wellness. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 19% of adults in the US report not getting enough rest or sleep. Sleep habits are one of the first questions we ask our patients as the body cannot heal without enough rest. While our primary goal as therapists is to teach our patients how to move better, we cannot make meaningful progress without the foundations of good health in place. Improving your sleep is an essential first step toward better health whether you have chronic health conditions or not.

What is Sleep Deprivation?

Sleep deprivation occurs when you either do not get enough sleep total, sleep at the wrong time of day, or do not get good quality sleep. Adults who experience sleep deprivation may report not feeling refreshed when they wake up and feeling tired throughout the day.

There are many negative health effects of sleep...

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The Slow Approach to Health

A common perception in our society is there is one key to living a healthy life that we have not quite figured out yet. Chronic disease is rampant in our aging population so we must be missing something, right? Some unknown, mysterious secret that will change our health in an instant if only we could find it. However, the real truth is health involves many components and is constantly changing as part of a never ending journey. Eliminating one certain type of food or taking a new supplement is never the answer on its own, but can be a small part of the big picture. There is not one magical exercise or one type of food that will completely turn our health around.

Health involves more than looking at objective measures such as calories, weight, and blood pressure. We also need to spend time looking at the quality of our food, movement, and lifestyle. We make daily choices that either help or harm our health. Nothing changes drastically in one day or with one decision. Therefore, 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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Thoughts on Movement, Exercise, and Eating Habits

Katy Bowman introduced a ground-breaking thought in her book Move Your DNA (I highly recommend any of her books): we should start thinking about movement the same way we think about eating habits. And “movement” is not the same as “exercise”. This idea not only changed the way I practice as a physical therapist, but also how I view my own movement habits.

We are all aware that we can’t eat just one healthy meal per day while eating junk the rest of the day and expect to be healthy. We also know a multivitamin will not completely replace a healthful diet. Our thoughts on movement should follow the same philosophy. Many of us are proud to say we exercise, but if we spend an hour exercising what are we doing the other 23 hours of the day? Exercise can be equated to a multivitamin or supplement. It cannot replace healthy movement distributed throughout our day. We might get the recommended amount of exercise during a specific part of the...

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Build a Healthy Movement Practice

A movement practice is different from a typical exercise or fitness routine. Success with a movement practice comes from an understanding of the basic principles. Much of the messaging thrown at us by the fitness industry is a detriment to our health in many ways. Our mission is to change the thought patterns around movement to encourage a sense of body awareness and promote body positivity.

We recommend some level of movement practice for everyone, but realize that this might not be for everyone at the time they are first introduced to it. By being mindful, learning how to study yourself, and avoiding perfection you set yourself up for success. It is important to start to understand and apply these concepts while learning to explore body alignment and corrective exercise. As we will discuss, many of these concepts overlap and build on each other.

Mindfulness

The first a most important principle of movement is mindfulness. Much of the mindfulness has left our modern...

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The Foundations of a Movement Practice

Today, moving more to accomplish daily tasks is viewed as an inconvenience. We now have access to devices serving the sole purpose of making our lives easier, from electronic kitchen appliances, to phones, to vehicles. These devices externalize the work of our muscles, effectively outsourcing the work of our body. “Upgrading” to their product results in doing less work throughout our day. This is promoted by advertisers as sign of status, progress, and luxury. A device that results in less work is the ultimate end goal and this message is thrown at us from every direction.

However, convenience in this case comes with a major down side. Humans were intended to move. Our movement impacts not only our physical health, but our mental health and overall wellbeing as well. The focus of my career as a physical therapist is to improve a person’s quality of life through movement. Over the years, I have noticed a common theme among medically compromised individuals who...

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