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The pitfalls of protected movement


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Recently I was working with a middle-aged gentleman who if you saw him move you would assume that everyday movements were not a challenge for him. In general, you would be correct. Like all of us, he had areas of tightness that could be addressed with everyday stretching or practicing more optimal posture. He mentioned that he had fallen in the past while hiking and was very apprehensive about walking downhill.

I was in the rear of a hike and saw how his body language and posture changed pretty drastically when the trail went downhill or downstairs. The steps become shorter. He lowered himself closer to the ground by bending his knees. His shoulders raised. He was not exactly shuffling but he was not picking his feet up as high off of the ground.

What if he encountered a root or something raised on the trail? Would he be able to raise his foot high enough so he did not trip? Also his base of support became narrower. The way he was moving of course in his mind was safer. However, from an outside view, he was increasing his chances of falling again.

I get it. After any of us fall of any age in the back of our minds, we don’t want it to happen again. We are afraid of it happening again. What would I suggest in this situation? First off it is obvious that we should applaud his want to not stop hiking. That is important. He was wearing just tennis shoes. Changing to better shoes so there is more traction and more confidence can be an easy fix. That in itself could be the game-changer. After the new shoes are on then it would be practicing better breathing (high shoulders means that it was not happening) would be a good step.

Let’s move on from that story. In general ways of protecting often involve pain. Knee injury, shoulder impingement or hip issues are all common areas. Sometimes the pain is gone but it is the fear of hurting it again.

Strength training can be one of the ingredients that your body needs. It does not and probably should not be a ridiculous amount of weight. Start where you are, then move from there. There are always options for a movement. If you continue to protect and not find ways to move better or with more confidence, it can be a recipe for a re-injury. It may take time to not hesitate. It will take patience with the process. It may take a while to really believe that your knee is getting better. However, starting even in small steps can add up over time.  On the other hand, I have spoken with people that claim that they can only pick up a 5lb dumbbell but they lift groceries and put items up in the plane with no issue. There it is a lack of connection between the gym and everyday life. Protecting in an environment (the gym etc.) where you have the opportunity to practice better movement that can help you move better in life can hold you back.

Let me leave you with one comparison of two pictures below that visually shows a movement in everyday life to an exercise in the gym.

Screen Shot 2019-08-30 at 4.39.32 PM

The woman on the left probably is calling this “picking up a plant” the woman on the right calls this a squat.

You say potato….I say… Exactly 🙂

Find ways to move through that protected movement so you can move with more confidence!

 

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Fling Yourself at Life


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We all have our own story.

We all have things that we have overcome or challenges we want to overcome. You know what yours is. Whatever your story is… your body is part of that story. Your body is involved in your story. That story about your body is an emotional one. We even attach emotions to parts of our bodies like our heart. When some part of our body is not working the way we want…or not the way it used to be it can affect us.

It can be emotional.

When we were kids we moved our bodies how we wanted to without a thought. We flung ourselves at life, we threw ourselves into playing…could care less about protecting our back and we were not worried about what other people thought.

As the years pass we play less. That is a past tense. We think more about form. We are more concerned about the scale, and we have to think about when we do some sort of movement that can count as exercise. We care more about getting steps in, turning on our gagets and exercise becomes more of something we have to schedule and do…instead of something that just happens.

We blame this “have to” on jobs, kids, life, getting older or because it is too hard or intimidating. Fight your excuse(s). Instead of side stepping, give yourself the permission to care less about how and instead more about what you can do.

Your story that includes your body can include better movement. This movement does not have to be forced. Allow yourself to play. Allow yourself to dance. Allow yourself to turn off the societal norms of what you are supposed to do because of your age or gender. Allow yourself to learn how to do something new.  Discover ways to move that you look forward to doing often.

You will see that if you add more movement to your story your body and mind will reward you.

Fling yourself at life.

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How Fit Can You Be Over 50?


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This question may come to mind when fitness and healthcare professionals strongly encourage various forms of exercise. How much “in shape” or “fit” do I need to be?  Many articles and studies highlight the numerous physical, neurological and cellular benefits to exercise.

The best answer is to turn the question back on you…how fit do you need to be to carry out the physical demands of your everyday life? What can that entail?

  • Sitting down.
  • Getting up.
  • Stepping to the side and reaching for something.
  • Reaching up to get something.
  • Carrying heavy items on one side while walking.
  • Turning to see what is around you.
  • Walking up stairs or on uneven ground.
  • Conditioned enough not to be winded at the top of the stairs.
  • Clothing and bathing yourself.

The list goes on…

This physical ability to carry out everyday tasks is also called your functional capacity.

Another way of phrasing this is – what do you enjoy doing and what do you need to do physically to be able to do it? Vacations? Visiting and playing with grandkids? Hiking trips? Running marathons? Enjoying the sites at a national park? Everything that brings you joy incorporates some sort of movement, regardless if that just means walking across the floor to open the door for a family member.

To answer the question one way: You should be as fit as your life demands.

This idea means you should not structure your life around your bodies limitations especially if they include your functional capacity. Instead, you should practice, exercise, and “train” to be able to do what you want to do easier and with less thought about how your body is moving.

Another way to answer the question is: Be as fit as you can possibly be.

Striving to be fit is a lifelong journey. As we age we may have to adapt and change the ways that we do exercise, but that does not mean we stop challenging ourselves. The more you move better every day you are rewarded with independence, confidence, and peace of mind that you don’t let your age determine what you can or cannot do.

To be clear, being “fit” is more than strength (although it is important, as especially leg strength is associated with morality).

It is also the power to move quickly if necessary.

It is also the agility to be able to walk over and around objects.

It is also the balance to be able to walk, bend, carry things and do things simultaneously.

It is also the mobility and flexibility to move your ankles, knees, hips, wrists, neck, and shoulders.

It is also the ability to be able to get to the ground and stand back up.

 

You CAN be fit over 50. You deserve to live the life you want to live!

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Squashing the Myths About Exercise for Older Adults – Part 2


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Despite our cultural depictions of aging, we all have the ability to age well with the strength, agility and balance to maintain our quality of life and the activities we enjoy. Traditional exercise programs, and even many fitness professionals, often disregard the ability of mature adults and seniors to maintain and gain qualities like strength and agility.

Regardless of age, we should all make the time to move, exercise, or play. Let’s squash one of the myths that hold mature adults and seniors back from moving better:

2. It is too late to exercise or You’re too old for that

This myth seems to be based on a limited and subjective definition of “exercise.” Exercise does not have to happen in a big box gym, nor do you necessarily have to be wearing fancy exercise clothes. (You don’t have to wear leg warmers, tights and a headband unless that’s what motivates you!)

Consider all the activities that can contribute to exercise and fitness. For example, building and tending to a garden incorporates squatting, lunging, digging, pulling, dragging, pushing, core strength, carrying objects, and more. If you don’t have the space (or interest) to be a neighborhood farmer, then going for hikes, joining a rec league, pilates, enjoying the social, mental and physical benefits of Tai Chi, or trying out some group exercise classes at a gym/pool are all great ideas.

If you have a favorite park or enjoy walking in your neighborhood? Start there! Finally, if you do want a gym, shop around and find one that you are comfortable at. Independent gyms vary greatly. Find one that you’ll enjoy and will continue going to rather than paying for a membership that you are not using.

Find the exercise that fits your preference and lifestyle. Do something that YOU enjoy doing!