What You Can Learn About Healthcare From the Failure of Fall Prevention Programs

In the spring, I’m presenting to our statewide assisted living association on implementing facility-wide fall prevention policies. So I’ve spent a lot of time over the last few months reading through research on fall prevention for older adults.

Fall prevention is one of the most common problems faced by institutions that care for older adultsAccording to the CDC, fall death rates in the US increased by 30% from 2007 to 2016. If this rate continues, it’s anticipated there will be seven fall deaths every hour by 2030. It's obvious the problem is getting worse, despite efforts to prevent avoidable falls.

In my research, I’ve found a few problems. Namely, the discrepancy between what research has found actually works and how falls prevention programs are structured in real life. Not to mention the “fluffy” information available to the general public online.

Not only do most fall prevention programs not work, but we implement policies...

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Why You Don't Need a Formal Exercise Routine to Be Healthy

We’ve all heard the benefits of physical activity and exercise. Studies find that it increases lifespan, reduces the risk of chronic disease, and brings about a higher quality of life in our later years.

And yet, having an understanding of the power that exercise has is not always enough to motivate us to get moving.

That’s because we are approaching fitness and health all wrong. When we hear the terms “exercise” or “physical activity”, we tend to immediately think of a dedicated exercise program like running, yoga, or lifting. All of which can sound intimidating to a lifelong non-exerciser.

The book Spring Chicken: Stay Young Forever by Bill Gifford gives an excellent overview of all the health benefits that exercise brings as we age. But as the author of the book points out, researchers have also realized you don’t have to have a formal exercise routine to reap the benefits. You simply need to get up and move more often.

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Fall Prevention Tips: Why You Need to Practice Falling

 

“Until you actually learn to fall, your nervous system will never truly know that it is actually safe to fall.” -Dr. Shante Cofield

I spend the majority of my time discussing concerns about falls with my clients, so it’s on my mind often. As a physical therapist specializing in empowering adults throughout the aging process, both the future and current risk of falls are the number one concern each of my clients express. And to guide them through this process, I have to help them analyze both the physical and psychological risk factors. Because they both play a major role.

Another one of my roles is to help all adults adopt forms of physical activity and exercise they enjoy. We’ve all heard the health benefits of physical activity, which are created by exposing ourselves to controlled stress. And this defines the actual purpose of exercise, or putting yourself in any uncomfortable situationTo allow your body to adapt by exposing yourself to...

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3 Simple Floor Mobility Drills

 

Wanting to gain some strength while improving your floor mobility? Try out these 3 simple but powerful floor mobility drills. A few things to keep in mind as you try these:

 You’ll get more out of them if you move as slow as you possibly can. I mean painfully slow.

 If you only get part of the way through the motion and find yourself plopping back on the floor, grab a few bolsters like a cushion to raise the level of the surface you're sitting on. Bolstering means meeting your body where it’s currently at and allowing you to work within your given range.

 This is an example of taking a bigger movement like floor transfers and breaking that movement down into smaller pieces to improve your technique and expand your options. You can do this with any skill, it’s super fun!

 

Looking for more on progressing your floor transfers and floor mobility? Check out the Mindful Movement Collective!

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The Health Implications of Kyphosis

 

Kyphosis is an excessive forward curvature of the upper spine, and in today's video, we discuss the health implications of developing kyphosis. 

Kyphosis is most often thought of as an aesthetic issue, but it goes far beyond appearance. Kyphosis impacts how your ribcage and the vital organs it holds functions. It can also limit the function the muscles and joints surrounding the ribcage. It can also impact the bone density of the vertebrae. 

Kyphosis is caused by a combination of forces throughout the upper back. Muscle imbalances that pull the spine in this position are created by our movement habits, including excessive time spent sitting in front of computers and on cell phones. 

The great news is that this problem is reversible and preventable! For more on kyphosis and corrective exercises used to reverse it, check out the full-length kyphosis class in our Mindful Movement Collective

 

Want to learn more about mindful movement? Sign up for our...

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We’re All Old People in Training, So Train Wisely

 

“Becoming an Old Person in Training makes it easier to think critically about what age means in this society and the forces at work behind depictions of older people as useless and pathetic.” -Ashton Applewhite

When most people talk about aging, they portray this picture of decline. Hold onto this misguided belief the best years are behind them. Sadly the anti-aging message is pervasive in our society. And the increasing rates of social isolation among older adults speaks volumes about our views on aging.

But what if instead, we looked at aging as a time of growth? How drastically does that change this image?

There isn’t something specific about aging that causes a state of decline. Your beliefs are what cause change with age. Nothing more. By telling ourselves we've gotten "too old to..." we initiate the process of decline. If we'd just admit that yes, we are in fact getting older, embrace this fact, and view aging as an opportunity for further growth we’d...

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The Story of Steroid Knee Injections and Healthcare in America

As a physical therapist, I’m often asked by patients about steroid injections for knee arthritis pain. I’ve worked with many who’ve received them, only to find mixed results. For some individuals they’ve been a lifesaver, the pain-relieving effects lasted for months. Others may have noticed improvement for several days, only to have the same pain return within a week. And for others, they noticed absolutely no difference. So what gives? Why such mixed results?

Research on steroid injections for chronic pain due to arthritis reveals less than stellar results. One study even found the use of injections accelerated the breakdown of healthy cartilage in the knee and had no impact on reported pain levels in those who received the injections.

Interpreting the Results

Understanding what’s happening here requires us to take a step back and look at the big picture of the human body. And the way our medical system views the body and the healing...

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Want to Feel More Balanced? Start with Your Feet.

Did you know that 25% of your bones and muscles are located below the ankle? And yet our feet tend to be one of the most overlooked parts of our body, at least as far as proactive care goes. No one thinks about their feet until there’s a problem.

Due to the volume of joints and muscles of the feet, stiffness in this area of the body is one of the biggest contributors to balance problems. Your feet play a major role in the intricate systems that keeps you balanced. The more rigid your feet, the more difficult it is to balance.

One of the best places you can start to improve your balance is to improve the mobility of your feet. The more impact from the environment your feet absorb, the less work the rest of your body has to do to keep you balanced.

The first step to better foot mobility is to consider how you treat your feet daily. What kind of shoes do you wear? How much time do you spend with shoes off? How are your toes moving? Do you have foot pain? Are there caluses,...

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Try These 11 Home Hacks to Start Moving More Today

Intimidated by the thought of exercise? Not sure how you’ll find the time, or even how to get started?

In my work as a physical therapist, I help clients explore their movement on a daily basis. Most people end up in our clinic because they’ve always struggled to form an “exercise” habit.

But what if we framed the conversation around movement instead of exercise? How much does that change the conversation?

A shift in perspective might be all you need to meet your health goals. If you get enough movement in your day, there would be less of a need for a formal exercise program.

There are an infinite number of ways you can alter your home environment to facilitate more movement. And better yet, this can happen with little to no investment in time or equipment. All it takes is a little thinking outside the box. Below is a list of suggestions to get you started.

1. Ditch your laundry basket.

I have yet to see anyone carry their laundry basket using...

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Need to Get Moving But Feel Overwhelmed? Start Here.

Do you realize your balance is declining, but feel lost on where to start improving it? Notice that your mobility isn’t what it used to be, but not sure how to take the first step to make it better?

We all get a little lost sometimes, especially when it comes to our health as we age. As a physical therapist, my job is to break things down into the smallest possible pieces to help get someone moving and build confidence. Taking small steps gets the ball rolling and banishes overwhelm.

Just remember, all it takes is just one step every day in the right direction. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, start with the list below to guide you in the right direction.

1. Start small and safe.

The best place to start to build balance and movement confidence is to break things down into smaller parts, perform a lot of repetitions, and set yourself up in a safe environment.

A great place to start is to write a list of all the movements you don’t feel confident doing. For...

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