I don’t think I have enough fingers and toes to count the times I have heard clients utter the phrases, “now I am getting older, my balance is getting worse” and “I am scared of falling so I can’t do the things I used to”
It is true, there are age related changes to our balance (reaction time, equilibrium and proprioception). But these physiological changes are compounded by the fact that we stop challenging facets of our balance as we mature. When we are young, we play on all sorts of objects. We climb trees, jump over puddles, dodge our friends and even hang upside down on the playgrounds. Children are unknowingly challenging their limitations every time they play. This brings about improvements in important aspects of balance.
Maintaining our body’s centre of gravity (balance) depends on co-ordination of several sensory systems within each of our bodies:
- The vestibular system (regulates equilibrium/head position)
- The visual system (spatial location relative to objects through vision)
- The somatosensory system (information from skin and joints to sense position and movement relative to surfaces and different body parts relative to each other)
As we leave our childhood into the monotony of adulthood – cooking, cleaning, working, we typically stop playing. Once we hit our 40’s, unless we specifically engage in different types of sports/activities, we tend to avoid or completely ignore actions such as jumping, hopping, balancing on a single leg. We stop practicing this co-ordination of systems….
The age-old saying is true… Use it or lose it!
Want the good news! Yes, we can improve these systems, much like we can with strength or aerobic fitness. We just need to challenge ourselves!
Tune in for part 2 on Mastering your Gravity if you are interested on HOW you can improve your balance.
The fringe festival is now in full swing, bringing the weird, wonderful and sometimes unimaginable acts. Perhaps you have seen the ‘Cowboy’ who now holds the world record for sword swallowing after having magnets implanted in his chest, behind the sternum… The human body is sometimes altered according to our desires but sometimes it just presents itself structurally different to the ‘norm’.
You may have heard the phrase ‘it’s as impossible as licking your elbow’… Well for some of us that is not true…
Perhaps you or someone you know has a similar trick up their sleeve. Hypermobility is common in the general population and may be present in one or more joints. It is the term used to describe the ability to move joints beyond the normal range of movement. It’s necessarily not as cool as it may look… In many people joint hypermobility may not cause any symptoms, however, for others it is associated with joint and ligament injuries, pain, fatigue and other symptoms.
A hypermobile joint is lax as a result of a gene mutation affecting the body’s connective tissue proteins. The looser connective tissue, particularly ligaments and tendons, gives rise to an increased risk of soft tissue injuries and dislocations as the joint can over extend or twist easily.
It has been found that individuals with hypermobile joints have impaired proprioception compared with that of matched control groups. Although you can’t change the structure of the lax tissues, research has shown that appropriate exercise can increase the control and stability of the muscles around the joints.
So how do you prevent an injury?
The key is to strengthen the stabilising muscles around the joint through guided resistance training. Knowing your limits and how to control movement patterns is essential. Try to avoid loading the joint past its normal range. The idea is to develop protective reflex actions when a joint is being pushed past it’s normal range.
For example, if you are known to have knees which hyperextend and play a sport which involves jumping, knowing how to control your landing without allowing the knee to move into hyperextension is essential in preventing knee injuries or muscle tears. In addition, it is important to strengthen the muscles around the knee, hip and ankle to better stabilise the joint.
If you have any concerns or questions regarding your joints, feel free to ask any one of our qualified staff members.
Enjoy the fringe festivities!
Mark Lindsay, from Eliza Park Stud (where Black Caviar was conceived) was once quoted as saying of the great sprinter “she’s got an arse like a bus”, which he meant as an utmost compliment. Her generous rump was one of the physical gifts she possessed that gave her such a phenomenal turn of speed. A distant view of her powerful back-end was all she offered her competitors across her perfect career!
For a horse, their gluteals act as a powerful hip extensor- in other words they drive the legs backward in order to propel the body forward. So having big, chunky glutes is a good thing for a sprint-distance horse. Black Caviar was built for speed.
Our glutes perform much the same role, or at least they have the potential to. In walking and even slow jogging on flat ground, the glutes should activate when the foot hits the ground to stabilise the hip and pelvis- and that’s about it. Start accelerating or going up a hill however, and they (should) kick into power-house mode and start quickly pushing us forward from behind. For proof, next time you see top-level sprinters on TV, check out their backsides. They are impressive (I am strictly speaking from an anatomical, physiological and biomechanical perspective here!). (more…)
Book a RunStrong Assessment with Exercise Physiologist Scott Wood by calling 08 8431 2111
ITB. For many runners this acronym may stand for ‘Imminent Trouble Brewing’, and then may progress to ‘Intense Thigh Burning’ and then eventually ‘I’m Taking a Break!’. If you have heard of the ITB it is probably because it been a source of pain and angst and impeded your ability to run. Hespanhol et al (2011) found that ITB pain syndrome is the third most common injury experienced by distance runners. It often starts out as a subtle warm glow around the lateral aspect of the knee, and then progresses to a debilitating, intense pain that can stop you running for weeks on end.
A systematic review by Louw and Deary (2013) that collated studies on the biomechanics of distance runners with ITB pain syndrome found that there are some trends seen in those who have a history of ITBPS compared to healthy controls, particularly around the hips and knees. This is easily assessed in an RunStrong Assessment through slow-motion gait analysis, and can also be addressed through deliberately altering running technique. (more…)
Golf is one of the most popular pastimes in Australia, and we see a large number of recreational golfers as clients at iNform. One of the greatest things about this sport is that it allows for a broad range of participants from the very young to the very senior, and from active to not so active.
Despite it’s reputation for being an activity of relatively benign physical demand, Golf can place significant amounts of stress on the body, and injury rates can be high among even ‘casual’ of players. This article is the first of a series discussing the most common golfing injuries, and strategies on how to prevent them.
In this piece, we will take a quick look at low back pain in the golfing community.
In a number of clinical studies, low back pain has been reported to be the most common injury amongst golfers (as high as 25% of all injuries in the sport). The news is not all grim however; as there are simple strategies you can employ today to assist in avoiding golf related back pain and they may very well improve your game!
The swing is an explosive movement that takes the spine through a large range of motion, so it is imperative that all golfers ensure they are well prepared for such movements each time they play a round if they aim to prevent back pain.
The first strategy you should take heed of is to ensure you are using an efficient swing technique. Make the valuable investment of taking a couple lessons from your club pro to iron out any biomechanical problems with your swing. This will enable your body to cope with the forces involved in the swing.
The second strategy is to ALWAYS warm-up prior to playing a round. Most golfers get straight out of their car and head to tee-off without employing any measures to prepare their body for movement. A few simple mobility exercises will go a long way here. Speak with your PT or Exercise Physiologist for some ideas.
I’ve included one example (pictured) that our golfing clients at iNform have found very helpful in preparing them on the course, and for keeping their spinal mobility in great shape. Try the Thoracic Rotation exercise below before your next round and see how you feel!
For further advice on improving your Golfing performance and reducing your injury potential contact iNform Health & Fitness on (08) 8431 2111 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
I hope I haven’t got any musos falsely excited based on the heading… but if I have, then you might as well just tune in (ah, see what I did there…ha…ha…ahhh….ok…I’ll get on with it…).
As we near the final development and exciting launch of our MovementScreen, I’ve been spending a lot of time talking to people about the initial ‘evaluations’ they go through when starting exercise. This is something I believe in incredibly strongly, as a very important undertaking to ensure safety and success of an exercise program. As a business owner I’m also very interested in those initial evaluation and planning stages of any project, as they are so critical to the success of the project. Interestingly however, when it comes to business projects, I get excited and jump head first into it.
If the entrepreneurial spirit were a disease, I would have been diagnosed as being in its terminal stages! The issue with this, is that often I end up walking into roadblocks and diversions, that, if I had spent more time in the planning stages exploring, I’m sure I would have been more successful, with a lot fewer bruises! I would have been a lot happier at re-evaluation stages.
A wise friend of mine once said to me as I excitedly asked when we are going to implement a project: Max, a good project devotes a third of its time to planning! Wow, the patience required for this! Needless to say, this project delivered very good outcomes for the relevant association because we went through that process.
So if this Project Planning 101 lesson is obvious to you (add I’m painstakingly learning it myself), then let me encourage you that, by looking at it from my professional perspective, this also applied to your health and exercise endeavours:
- Make sure that you plan what you want to do and achieve
- very importantly, have someone help you identify barriers to your success. these could include past injuries, movement limitations, lack of specific knowledge, etc.
- implement these things into some initial testing/evaluations, that will help you objectively measure your success!
These evaluations could include an understanding of your current body composition – rather than just what the scales tell you; or a movement score; or a measure of pain; or an objective fitness test. All of these can help you plan and guide your health journey.