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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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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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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Hate Exercise? Try Movement Instead.

With our society becoming more unhealthy as a whole each year, movement professionals find ourselves pressed to reframe the discussion around health, wellness, and movement. We all understand the benefits of exercise, yet adhering to an exercise routine tends to be a completely different story. The most important conversation we have with new clients is discussing their physical activity history. This gives us a clear picture on how set our clients up for success in their health and wellness goals. One of the most common reasons we hear for a history of not sticking to an exercise routine is lack of time. The guilt and shame associated with not going to the gym creates a further aversion to exercise, becoming a vicious cycle. 

But what if we told you there is a way to get healthier that does not involve traditional "exercise"? Sound too good to be true? We promise this is not only possible, but also ideal in terms of your health. The solution is a movement-based...

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