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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Why You Should Spend More Time Thinking About Your Feet

 

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...

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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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Lessons Learned From Studying My Own Movement

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,...

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Become a Student of Movement

As we have discussed in the past, movement is an essential component of health. We also know that the better the quality of your movement, the greater the health benefits. Moving better involves daily practice and a sense of awareness. In our quest for better health, many of us mindlessly perform exercise without a second thought. When we do this, however, we lose out on an opportunity to learn about ourselves. What if mindlessly performing exercise is entirely missing the point? Mindfulness with exercise maximizes the health benefits and also makes us more efficient and effective in our movement.

Mindfulness of our habits is vital to overall health. The longer I practice as a therapist, the more I realize the most successful people are the ones who incorporate a sense of awareness with their daily movement habits. Those who make movement a lifestyle rather than just another chore gain the most benefits. For better health, make movement an essential part of a lifestyle. We can...

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Are Modern Conveniences Impacting Your Health?

About a month ago our food processor broke. It was a much loved kitchen appliance, one that we used on a daily basis. Rather than immediately running out to buy a new one however, we decided to get by without replacing it. We had to be a little creative to try to find ways to accomplish the same tasks through different means. The final result? Simple recipes became a little less convenient, but not any more time consuming than they had before. And much to our surprise the alternative options, like using a mortar and pestal to grind up walnuts, forced us to use arm and grip strength for our food. Would life be a little easier by using an electronic appliance instead? Probably. But it's been several weeks and we still have not felt the need to run out and replace this kitchen appliance. Instead, it lead us to think about other ways we could incorporate more movement into our daily activities simply by changing the tools we use or how we use them.

Have you ever considered how modern...

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Should I Get an MRI for Low Back Pain?

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...

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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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