Alignment 101: Why We Teach Alignment

At Advanced Balance Clinic, a major part of our treatment philosophy focuses on body alignment to help get people moving better. When we refer to alignment, we mean how each body part is positioned relative to each other. For example, if you are standing and you look down where is your foot pointed relative to your hip? Is in angled out, angled in, or pointed straight forward? You might wonder why we spend so much time emphasizing these subtle variations throughout the body.

There are several components to this answer. The human body is complex. We might be focused on alignment, but also realize this is far from the whole picture. Take chronic pain for example. A focus on alignment might be a good start for some people, but pain is much more complex than meets the eye. More and more research demonstrates that chronic pain has nothing to do with what we call “posture” and is not even not well correlated with disease state. For example, someone can have terrible...

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Are You an Abstainer or a Moderator?

In a previous story, we discussed the importance of finding your why and changing your mindset for better health. However, this is just the first step of the process. Finding better health and living life to the fullest is a journey, one which is full of layers. Knowing why you want to live a better life and then changing your mindset to one of growth is just the first layer. The next big step is to learn more about yourself and how you form habits in order to make meaningful change.

Ever wonder why some people do just fine quitting a bad habit cold turkey while others who try that approach fail within a matter of days and go right back to what they were doing? This is the difference between an abstainer and a moderator, as Gretchen Rubin outlines in her book Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives. Several years ago, this author caught onto these subtle differences among people that make a big impact in terms of habit formation, and dove into...

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Health Has Everything to Do With Your Mindset

At Advanced Balance Clinic, we firmly believe that health is not the absence of disease. Our mission is to bridge the gap between managing a medical condition to living a vibrant, healthy life. Living a life of vitality is a journey, and we are here to facilitate that process through a variety of means. Healthy living looks very different for everyone.

In our years of experience as therapists, we realized there was one big difference in our clients who make drastic improvement to their quality of life and those who don’t. No matter what the diagnosis was, the answer is not found in one particular exercise, medication, or diet plan… There is no magic bullet solution when it comes to health.

So what does actually make a difference?

The answer is MINDSET!

When we first start working with new clients, progress will not be made unless we help them get to the root of their motivations, habit patterns, and overall mindset. We boiled our process down into smaller pieces to...

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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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Chronic Pain Changes Your Brain

Brain health isn't a topic discussed often enough, particularly within the medical community. On the bright side, the topics of mental health and access to mental health services have come to light in the last few years. But, the aging brain is often left out of the conversation.
 
There are many unanswered questions about the decline in brain health with aging. The medical profession is starting to observe the differences in adults who experience brain atrophy and those who don’t. So, we're gaining some clarity. But, there's still so much we don't know.
 
The research identified some clear patterns in those who receive a diagnosis of dementia. But, keep in mind that patterns don't always give a clear cause. We know fall risk increases with increasing mental decline. We know poor mental health increases the risk of developing dementia. We know a connection exists between muscle weakness and dementia. What isn't as clear is why.
 
I've studied these...
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For Better Health, Be Like a Kid Again

The other night, I was watching my one-year-old son attempt to pick up a garden hose in the backyard. Starting in a deep squat, he kept trying to stand up with an object that was heavy relative to his size. Standing unsupported is a skill he's yet to master, and here he was trying this unknown skill to him. After about 50 tries, he finally got it and I'll never forget that smile on his face.

 
Watching my children grow over the last few years, I've realized kids are invigorated by the most difficult of physical challenges. Curiosity to learn about their surroundings results in physical skills like crawling and walking. The connection between physical movement and brain development is clear in children.
 
I'm not sure where we lost this as adults, but keeping this same curiosity would solve most of our health problems. Adopting a child's approach brings mindfulness to movement, paving the way for healthier aging. Here's what you can take from this example to...
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How Does Balance Work Anyway?

Ever wondered how your body keeps its balance? Well, wonder no more! This is the question we'll address in this blog post.
 
In our work, we encounter balance issues that start at any age. It's no secret that the human body is complicated. Balance is no different. Your brain relies on input from several of your body's systems to map out your position in the world. This helps you stay upright to move about your world.  
 
Your body uses three main systems for this purpose. These systems communicate information with one another through nerves. This gives your brain information about your positioning at all times.
 
Healthy balance happens on a subconscious level. We shouldn't be aware all this work is going on behind the scenes. The first hint of awareness is a sign of a problem. Balance problems arise when any one of these systems, a combination of them, or the communication between these systems start to malfunction
...
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3 Exercises for Weak or Painful Shoulders

Acute or chronic shoulder pain is a common reason a person might seek out the services of a therapist. In this blog post, we will cover the starting point of our favorite exercises for weak or painful shoulders. First, we will discuss different types of exercise and how we use each type to promote pain management. Then we will demonstrate shoulder alignment and give instructions for strong, healthy shoulder joints!

Sound like a plan? Here goes...

When we initiate a plan of action for either acute or chronic pain, we structure an exercise sequence in a specific order. The first goal is to calm down the pain response and bring more stability to the joint in order to allow for bigger movement. Once pain is addressed, we look at underlying movement patterns and reinforce patterns to promote optimal joint health! Let's take a look at the difference between different types of strengthening exercise and discuss a starting point for weak or painful shoulder joints.

Different types of...

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What is a Floor Transfer?

 

Why do we care so much about your ability to get on and off the floor?
 
Because the ability to get on and off the floor without the use of your hands is a strong physical predictor of 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's also one of our favorite exercises for healthy aging!
 
There are an infinite number of ways you can get on and off the floor, as well as unlimited options for sitting positions once you are on the floor. The confidence to know you can safely and easily get off the floor decreases your future risk of falls!
 
If you're 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...
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All Walking is Not Created Equal

When it comes to walking, most of us have a strong preference between walking outdoors, indoors, or on a treadmill. We tend to think these activities are interchangeable from a health perspective, but are they? The surfaces that we walk on change the experience of our body and the muscles that we use.

Walking overground should be powered by the backs of our legs with our torso vertical. In order to propel us forward, our muscles generate a pushing action behind us to push the ground away. On the other hand, a treadmill forces our body to do exactly the opposite, relying on a walking pattern driven by the muscles in the front of the hip and thigh to catch yourself because the “ground” is coming toward you. Therefore, treadmill walking is not the same as walking overground.

So Why Does This Matter?

For most of us, the muscles of the fronts of our hips are already shortened due to time spent sitting every day. Treadmill use encourages further shortening and overuse of...

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