Sarcopenia and loss of strength

with advice from Daniel Butler, CEP

Sarcopenia and loss of strength

Sarcopenia, the loss of skeletal muscle mass, is a part of what has been called “the slippery slope of aging.”

As people age, they often start to experience sarcopenia, as well as osteopenia and osteoporosis. Having weaker muscles and bones, plus the arthritis caused by years of wear and tear, can make movement more difficult and painful. The pain leads to less activity, which contributes to weaker bones and muscles, making it even more difficult to move. And so on.

Doctors and scientists are still not quite sure what causes sarcopenia, but they have linked a number of factors to its development, according to the Mayo Clinic: age-associated hormone changes, physical inactivity, inflammation, and diseases like cancer and diabetes. Because inactivity can lead to sarcopenia, doctors encourage older adults to exercise more to build muscle mass.

Exercise increases hormone levels, builds muscle mass, and contributes to weight loss.Daniel Butler, a personal trainer and clinical exercise specialist who works at the Take Charge Fitness Program, a wellness facility run by Clinton Physical Therapy Center (a Physiquality network member in Tennessee), is an expert in helping people avoid age-related physical problems. He points out that exercise not only builds body mass, but it also releases some of the hormones that start to dwindle as we age, like testosterone and growth hormones.

In addition, it can help older adults lose weight, reducing the pain associated with arthritis; having more weight on your frame can exponentially increase the pressure on your joints. So activity increases hormone levels, builds muscle mass, and contributes to weight loss. Win, win, win!

If you haven’t been very active and don’t know where to begin, says Daniel, go for a walk. Walking doesn’t take any special skills, and in many areas of the country can be done outside year-round. If it’s too cold outside right now, he adds, there are several places to walk indoors, like shopping malls, commercial gyms and community centers.

Daniel notes that water exercise is a great alternative. Just like walking, it can be done indoors or outside, and the resistance provided by the water is enough to strengthen bones and muscles.

If you’re hesitant about trying a new activity on your own, talk to your physical therapist — PTs can create a walking or exercise program to build muscle mass at a rate that you are comfortable with. Use our locator to find a Physiquality therapist in your neighborhood.

It's important for seniors to avoid frailty.The key to aging well is avoiding frailty, the last step in the “slippery slope.” Daniel recommends keeping an eye on your bone density through DEXA scans, and then taking steps, such as proper diet and exercise, to maintain strong and healthy bones. He also notes that regular balance screenings can detect loss of equilibrium. If loss of balance is present, there are exercise and physical therapy protocols that can help restore balance.

The last point Daniel makes is that it’s important for seniors to be social. Meeting up with friends outside the house, whether you’re going for a walk or seeing a movie together, gets you off the couch and moving — and the more you move, the better you’ll feel.

 

Daniel Butler, CEP Daniel Butler, CEP, has been a personal trainer for more than 10 years at the Take Charge Fitness Program, a wellness facility run by Clinton Physical Therapy Center, a Physiquality network member in Clinton, Tennessee. A former Marine, Daniel holds certifications from the American College of Sports Medicine as a clinical exercise specialist and the Arthritis Foundation as an aquatic instructor, and he completed his B.S. in health administration in 2012.

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What are the benefits of aquatic physical therapy? Consider getting wet in order to get better.

with advice from Kelly Lenz, PT
and Blair J. Packard, PT, MS

 What are the benefits of aquatic physical therapy?

When most people think of physical therapy, they probably think of treadmills and stationary bikes, hand weights and elastic bands — plus the medical tables on which patients can be treated. Without getting wet.

So why might aquatic physical therapy be just as beneficial, or even better?

“Aquatic therapy allows a gravity-reduced environment in which to exercise,” explains Kelly Lenz, a physical therapist and co-owner of Clinton Physical Therapy Center, a Physiquality network clinic in Tennessee. “This allows a variety of patients to move more freely without undue stress on their body.”

Buoyancy can be used to assist, support or resist motion. Image used with permission from East Valley Physical Therapy.This is possible because of one special property of water: buoyancy. Because of buoyancy, the gravitational forces on the body are reduced, giving some patients immediate pain relief. “Buoyancy can be used to assist, support or resist motion,” says physical therapist Blair J. Packard, the co-owner of East Valley Physical Therapy, a Physiquality member in Arizona. “It also opposes gravity to provide spinal and joint unloading.”

There are other benefits to doing therapy in a pool as compared to on land:

  • Patients who are only able to do traditional exercises for a short period of time are often able to exercise for longer periods of time, with more intensity.
  • Patients with poor balance do well in the water as the water helps support them — and if they do fall, the water slows down the fall.
  • Patients with edema often see a reduction in swelling, as the water pressure increases venous return to the heart.

Aquatic therapy is especially helpful for patients with lower extremity injuries or issues. Image used with permission from Clinton Physical Therapy Center.Aquatic therapy can help a variety of patients, but Kelly notes that it’s especially helpful for those with lower extremity injuries or issues — arthritis in the knees or hips, leg fractures where patients are just starting to put weight on the bone again, or pain in the lower back or lumbar spine. It’s also been shown to help patients with disorders like Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis. And the American Physical Therapy Association points out that a pool is the perfect environment for aging individualsthat have the normal degeneration that occurs with aging.

Don’t worry if you don’t know how to swim — therapy in a pool is used to improve function, mobility, strength and balance, not actual swimming. Most pools are fairly shallow in order to allow the patients and therapists to stand and walk in the water. For example, Blair points out, the depths in the pool at East Valley PT range from three and a half feet to five feet. And if patients are still uncomfortable with the water, special adaptive equipment will help them keep their head above the water’s edge.

Not all physical therapy clinics offer aquatic therapy, and even if your physical therapist does offer it, it may not be the best treatment for your condition. But if your PT suggests getting into the pool to become stronger and improve your health, consider getting wet in order to get better.

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How do physical therapists improve women’s health?

It can be easy to shrug off feminine pain or problems because it would be embarrassing to discuss them with, well, anyone. In honor of women’s health week, consider consulting one of the many physical therapists that has specialized in treating issues that are specific to women’s health, making them an excellent resource when your health problems can no longer be ignored.

Karen Munger, a physical therapist, chose to work at The Center for Physical Rehabilitation, a Physiquality clinic in western Michigan, because the owners supported her efforts to develop a women’s health program there. They provided her with the education and equipment necessary to evaluate and treat such issues as pelvic floor dysfunction, including pelvic pain and urinary incontinence; constipation-related issues and bowel incontinence; postpartum problems; and core retraining.

Some PT clinics offer programs for urinary incontinence and pelvic pain, catering to a wide range of women.Karen is quick to remind readers that these programs are not just for women that have gone through pregnancy. “Our urinary incontinence program caters to young athletes, post-partum mothers and older women alike,” she says. And the clinic’s pelvic pain program covers a variety of issues, including vulvodynia, dyspareunia (or painful intercourse), vaginismus, painful bladder syndrome, coccyx (or tailbone) pain, groin pain, sacroiliac pain and abdominal pain.

– See more at: http://www.physiquality.com/blog/?p=7794#sthash.f4nP3s13.dpuf

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What is osteoporosis? Can it be prevented?

As we age, our bodies are not as healthy as they were when we were younger. Muscles are slower to react. Joints are not as fluid as before. And bones are weaker than they were in our youth.

Osteoporosis is a bone disease most commonly found in older women, particularly those of Caucasian or Asian descent. Literally translated as “porous bone,” osteoporosis happens when bone density has decreased and the bones have become brittle. Unfortunately, the early symptoms of osteoporosis are easy to miss, like back pain or stooped posture. This is why most people don’t find out that they have the disease until they break a bone.

Your bones are constantly changing and creating new bone cells. When you’re younger and growing, your body creates more bone than it loses. This shifts as we reach our mid-20s, when our bodies slow down the process and we’ve reached our peak bone mass, or bone thickness.

Literally translated as "porous bone," osteoporosis happens when bone density has decreased and the bones have become brittle.
 

By the time we’re in our 50s and 60s, the process has reversed, and we’re losing more bone cells than we’re producing.  Read More