Brain Health Series: Balance, Walking, and Brain Health

Brain health in is a topic not discussed often enough, especially within the medical community. The conversation around mental health and access to mental health services has been increasing in recent years, however the aging brain is often left out of the conversation. There are so many questions left unanswered surrounding the decline of brain health associated with aging. The medical profession has made observations about those who ultimately experience brain atrophy and those who don’t, so we are slowly gaining clarity. However, there are still many questions left unanswered.

Research has identified some clear correlations and patterns in those who ultimately receive a diagnosis of dementia. Keep in mind, however, that correlation does not equal causation. We know that balance problems and risk of falls increase with increasing severity of cognitive decline. We know poor mental health increases the risk of developing dementia. We know that muscle weakness is associated...

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What is a Floor Transfer?

Image may contain: 1 person, shoes and indoor

Image may contain: 1 person, indoor

The ability to get on and off the floor without using hands is strongly correlated with early disability and death. This is why one of the first skills we cover with new clients is getting on and off the floor. Not only is this a life-saving skill but it is also one of our favorite strengthening activities! There are an infinite number of ways you can get on and off the floor, as well an unlimited options for sitting positions once you are on the floor. Having the confidence to know you can safely and easily get off the floor decreases your future risk of falls! If you are currently able to get yourself on and off the floor, continue to practice this skill daily. If you are unsure, see a physical or occupational therapist for a floor transfer test. 

A floor transfer test is nothing fancy. As shown in the pictures above, the test involves getting on and off the floor trying to use the hands as little as possible. This test can tell you a lot about your overall strength and...

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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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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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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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