This is not a short video but it has such important information! We hope all of you will take the time out of your busy lives to watch it! We will continue to share this series of videos as it is released. The information shared here is vitally important to understand for positive physical and mental health!
Proprioception is a complex system of anatomical checks and balances, neural impulses, and brain functions that controls our sense of balance, coordination, and agility. Put most simply, proprioception is the “sixth sense” that enables you to scratch your head without looking in a mirror or climb a flight of stairs without having to look at each step.
Most of us are so accustomed to proprioception that we take it for granted. Its development starts soon after we are born and is observed in infants as soon as they gain control of their neck muscles. When the infant’s body tilts in any direction, its head also tilts in the opposite direction to level its eyes with the horizon. This “righting reflex” is the beginning of our sense of balance.
More technically, proprioception is your body’s ability to transmit a sense of its position in space, analyze that information, and react—either consciously or unconsciously—to stimuli with the proper movement and force. Proprioceptors are a specialized type of motor and sensory nerve that transmits impulses to the central nervous system (in particular, the area of the brain known as the cerebellum) from stimuli felt by the muscles, tendons, joints, and skin. The impulses transmitted by proprioceptors contain vital information, such as the amount of tension in a particular muscle and the relative position of a body part when it is moving.
, Proprioception is what enables you to reach for a glass and actually find it in space. It is also what allows you to pick up the glass with just the right amount of force, neither dropping it nor breaking it by squeezing too hard. Proprioception is what enables you to keep your balance when walking on uneven surfaces or when riding a bicycle. The impulses from proprioception combine with input received from the vestibular system (the fluid-filled network in the inner ear that enables us to feel the pull of gravity and know which direction is “up”) and with input from the visual system to create our sense of balance.
However, just as our eyes become weaker with age, so can the proprioceptive system, leading to a loss of proper balance. This is one of the reasons that falling is the number one cause of hospital admissions for people over 60. Something has gone wrong with the complex processing of information needed to maintain their balance, so older people are more likely to slip and fall on stairs or on slippery sidewalks and injure themselves.
Fortunately, you can strengthen your proprioceptive system by practicing simple balance exercises, thus keeping keep your sense of balance from weakening as you grow older. There are many forms of inexpensive exercise equipment (such as BOSU or Bongo Boards) that enable you to stand on a platform that is designed to be wobbly. This instability forces your muscles and your proprioceptive system to work more, and thus become stronger. So if you are over the age of 50, you should consider speaking to your chiropractor about exercises to improve your proprioception. They are very simple but can greatly improve your overall sense of balance, therefore significantly reducing your risk of injury from falls as you grow older. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Oblander, call 406-652-3553.
Many studies have found that chiropractic care is a safe and effective treatment method when dealing with a number of spine-related issues. The American Chiropractic Association even lists a number of research studies on their website that show that it is a valuable treatment method for easing (and sometimes completely resolving) back pain, neck pain, headaches, and more.
While all of this is good news for professionals that practice in the chiropractic field, some researchers wondered if chiropractic was just as safe for elderly patients as it is for younger patients experiencing these types of problems. So, they set out to find the answer, which they did via a retrospective cohort study funded by NIH and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, and also which was subsequently printed in Spine upon its completion.
What researchers wanted to discover was whether the relationship between the risk of injury to people 66 years old and older when engaging in chiropractic care was higher than, lower than, or equal to the risk of injury to this same age group after undergoing medical care by their primary care physician. To find their answer, they studied data on Medicare B patients who went to the doctor in 2007 for a neuromusculoskeletal issue, evaluating their risk of injury seven days post-treatment.
They discovered that seniors that received chiropractic care had a 76% lower rate of injury within seven days of treatment when compared to the subjects that met with their primary physician as a result of a neuromusculoskeletal complaint. Researchers also pointed out that they found that males contained within the research group, older study participants, and those with a higher Charlson co-morbidity score were most at risk of injury within the week after acquiring a neuromusculoskeletal issue.
Additionally, certain medical conditions raised the risk of injury, even after chiropractic care. Therefore, chiropractic professionals should consider whether treatment via spinal manipulation is best for “patients with coagulation defects, inflammatory spondylopathy, osteoporosis, aortic aneurysm & dissection, or [those who have engaged in] long term use of anticoagulant therapy” as the increased risk may not be worth the benefits.
Whedon JM, Mackenzie TA, Phillips RB, Lurie JD. Risk of traumatic injury associated with chiropractic spinal manipulation. Spine 2014;Dec 9.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in three adults over the age of 65 has a fall in any given year. Falls are the leading cause of injury-related death for adults in this age range, as well as the most common cause of trauma-related hospital admissions. More than 1.6 million older adults go to the emergency room for fall-related injuries each year in the United States. Whether you are above the age of 65, or you care for someone who is, knowing how to prevent a fall could help you save a life.
There are several risk factors that you can address to help prevent a fall. The first factor is a lack of physical activity. As adults grow older it becomes difficult to exercise on a regular basis. This leads to a decrease in strength and a loss of bone flexibility and mass. All of these factors can make falls more likely and injuries more severe.
Fortunately, there are ways for older adults to stay active. Regular exercise is the best place to start. Fifteen minutes of an exercise designed to increase bone and muscle strength should be done every other day. This can be as simple as taking a walk or going for a swim a few times a week.
The risk of falls increases when seniors do not take adequate time to carry out daily activities. It is important to stay safe and to take your time when bending over and when lifting things. Be sure to recover your balance first before taking a step when getting out of bed or a chair.
Seniors on medications may find that their balance is impaired and their mental alertness is reduced. Some medications can cause a drop in blood pressure while you are standing up, throwing you off balance. Be sure to understand all of the side effects of your medications, and be clear with your doctor about any fears you have about your balance. He or she may be able to reduce your dosage to help keep the side effects under control.
Environmental hazards are one of the biggest risk factors for senior falls. These hazards can include items on the floor that are easy to trip on, loose rugs, unsteady furniture, and poor lighting.
To reduce the risk of environmental factors causing a fall, take time to walk through the house to locate any potential hazards. Rugs can be secured with nonskid tape and throw rugs can be removed altogether. Furniture should be kept in good repair and clutter should be kept to a minimum. Finally, consider having grab bars installed to help you get up and down securely.
Falls among seniors can be frightening, but there are steps that you can take to help prevent them. By being cautious and staying in good health, seniors can increase their chances of avoiding harmful falls.
Good posture isn’t exactly a high priority for many Americans. For millions of us, the number-one priority is working to provide for our families—and sitting all day at a desk is how we achieve that. However, poor posture while sitting at work for many hours every day can actually lead to poor posture while standing the rest of the time—and that’s a more serious problem than one might think.
A Wall Street Journal article entitled “How Bad Sitting Posture at Work Leads to Bad Standing Posture All the Time” talks at length about this phenomenon. Allston Stubbs, an orthopedic surgeon at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center who treats patients with back or joint pain, puts it this way: “[Posture] is probably the 800-pound gorilla when it comes to health and wellness… We see the spine and overall skeletal structure being critical to a patient’s functionality and their satisfaction with their life and health care.”
This means that many Americans’ habit of sitting all day with no thought to their posture has severe consequences—without good posture, many people can develop serious neck, shoulder, and back pain, leading to a sharp decline in their quality of life. Sitting all day with poor posture can lead to muscular back pain, herniated discs, and even pinched back nerves.
Poor sitting posture can also cause tension headaches, diminished breathing, and fatigue. It can even make you look older, according to the LA Sentinel. “Never underestimate the beauty and health benefits of good posture. Often poor posture is just a bad habit that is easily corrected. Poor posture not only makes you look older, but could be the first step toward dowager’s hump, double chin, potbelly, and swayback as well as some internal problems too. When a person is hunched over or not standing straight, that person may be perceived as older than they actually are. Good posture is not only beneficial to your body; it also makes you look taller and slimmer. What’s more, good posture can convey self-confidence, which may just be the best accessory you can have.”
Additionally, good posture is essential for a healthy spine. It can reduce or eliminate back (and shoulder and neck) pain, and it can even improve your mood.
However, there are millions of people today who simply have not learned what good posture is—and it’s not standing rigid, with shoulders thrown back, as many may have learned in childhood. Rather, as the WSJ articles says, “Good posture doesn’t just mean standing with the shoulders thrown back. More important is maintaining good alignment, with ears over the shoulders, shoulders over hips, and hips over the knees and ankles. Body weight should be distributed evenly between the feet.”
While workplace-related posture problems are getting a lot of attention in the media these days, the importance of good sitting posture to office workers’ health is hardly news to the U.S. government. The United States’ Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) offers a number of tips for good sitting posture, including keeping your head in line with your torso as well as keeping your elbows close to your body and your thighs and hips parallel to the floor. OSHA also recommends using a well-padded seat, keeping your shoulders relaxed, and making sure your forearms, wrists and hands are straight and well-aligned.
Strong bones are essential for healthy living, but there’s no guarantee that any of us will have them as we grow up and grow older. While we don’t think about it very much unless something goes wrong, we need to do our part to develop and protect our bones. Proper nutrition is part of that.
Your skeleton is a living organ that needs nutrients in order to rebuild bone in areas where it is continually being broken down. Osteoporosis, a condition in which bones lose mass and density and are at greater risk for fractures, occurs in 55% of Americans over 50. Millions of fractures occur every year as a result of poor bone health.
The most common osteoporosis-related bone fractures among the elderly affect the hips, vertebrae, wrists and ribs. Vertebral fractures are the most common, and occur most often in women. You may see an elderly woman with hunched shoulders, head propped forward and unable to stand straight, because a few of her vertebrae have essentially collapsed. This condition is sometimes called “dowager’s hump”.
How do we prevent this from happening to us? In addition to regular weight-bearing exercise, diet can make a big difference. Here are some bone-friendly foods you can add to your diet to help keep your bones strong:
Seeds—Though we usually think of bones as being made of calcium, they also consist of other elements. For instance, half of the body’s magnesium is found in the bones. A great source of magnesium is seeds, particularly pumpkin seeds. Brazil nuts are also rich in magnesium.
Nuts—Walnuts are rich in alpha linolenic acid, which helps to keep bones building up instead of breaking down.
Leafy greens—Leafy greens (particularly the dark green kind), provide a host of nutrients and vitamins, including magnesium, calcium and vitamin K. Vitamin K helps to cut calcium loss in urine and is essential in building new bone matter to replace old.
Beans—Pinto beans, kidney beans, black beans and white beans all contain magnesium and even a little calcium. Beans not only help your bones, they help prevent obesity, heart disease and cancer.
Sardines—Canned sardines contain a substantial amount of calcium. A 3 oz. can typically contains 320 mg of calcium.
Swiss cheese—One ounce usually contains 270 mg of calcium.
Dried plums (Prunes)—Dried plums are a reliable source of dietary fiber, phenols and vitamin K. They’ve been shown to suppress the rate of bone resorption, or the breakdown of bone.
Besides eating well, it’s very important to remember to exercise. In fact, one of the greatest health risks faced by astronauts when they go into orbit is bone loss. Bones deteriorate more quickly in zero gravity unless exercise is included in the daily routine. The same idea applies here on earth. Stressing bones with physical activity (particularly weight-bearing exercise and exercise that involve some type of impact, such as running) seems to trigger bone-building activity and prevents the body from using bone-building nutrients for other things.
Not only can playing sports at any age help you maintain your strength, stamina, balance, flexibility and coordination, the benefits are actually cumulative over time. That means the more adults participate in sports throughout their lifetime, the more they will benefit as they reach the age where joint problems and declining energy become a problem. For people to enjoy the most benefit, they should begin to consciously “ramp-up” their physical activity in early adulthood to support the continuation of active leisure time activities throughout later phases of life.
Playing sports into mid-life allows adults to maintain physical capabilities that will help reduce their risk of developing age-related problems that are often tied to inactivity, including heart disease, colon cancer, stroke and diabetes. In addition, sports burn calories and help prevent weight gain as metabolism slows as part of the aging process. Sustaining their physical health through middle age and into their senior years will allow them to continue participating in more of the activities they enjoy and to maintain their independence longer. Not only will staying active help them enjoy better health, it will also improve their longevity.
Sports Participation Increases Energy, Improves the 3Ms
Most of us recognize that exercising actually increases our general energy levels. This is true at any age, including 50 and beyond. But did you know that it also improves the 3Ms—memory, mood and mind? Participating in sports helps adults stay motivated and provides a release from stress. Many also enjoy the chance to compete against other athletes in their age bracket. Benefits are important to both men and women in the over 50 category.
Popular Sports for Older Adults
Obviously, most older adults are not going to jump into sports like tackle football, rugby, lacrosse or ice hockey, but there are a large number of sports that will help them strengthen muscles, build stamina and maintain their balance, flexibility and coordination. Many of these also offer great opportunities for social interaction and will help seniors feel better all the way around.
- Increases stamina and strengthens legs. Can also encourage core strength and flexibility.
- Enhances breathing, improves bone density, reduces body fat and maintains reaction time.
- Not a physically demanding sport, and well-suited for those who are not in the best physical shape. Sharpens hand-eye coordination and offers mental and social benefits.
- Increases energy and stamina with minimal risk of muscle and joint injury. Increases flexibility and tones muscles, offers aerobic exercise for improved heart health and may reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
- Improves coordination, balance and can improve mobility.
Although the greatest benefits from playing sports occur in those who have continued to engage in sports activity throughout their lives, it is never too late to learn a new sport and enjoy the physical and mental benefits they can provide.
It’s sad but true: As we get older, our balance tends to deteriorate and our reflexes tend to slow. When you’re aware that it’s happening, it can be very frustrating. But when you’re not aware of these gradual changes, they can actually be dangerous as well. This is especially true as you exit middle age.
Part of the reason it’s so frustrating to experience a decline in balance and reflexes is that—many times—it feels like there’s not very much we can do about it. And to a certain extent, decline really is almost inevitable. However, there is some good news. Even for middle-aged adults and seniors, there are numerous ways we can help maintain or even improve our sense of balance.
The Relationship Between Balance, Reflexes and Overall Well-Being
By the time we’re in our late 50s or early 60s, many of us will begin to have episodes where we feel dizzy or unsteady, or as if our surroundings are in motion. These feelings are triggered by gradual deterioration in the three major systems that work together to provide our balance and coordination— the visual system, the vestibular (inner ear) system, and the proprioceptive system (the sense of body position in space). A loss of balance makes falling more likely. And since our reflexes are also slowing, it becomes less likely that we will be able to catch ourselves if and when we do fall. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), roughly one-third of adults age 65 years and older fall each year. And among older adults, falls are actually the leading cause of injury-related deaths.
But even when they’re not fatal, falls can have serious consequences for an older person’s health and lifestyle. Falls can cause injuries that limit activity or make it more difficult to live independently while recovering. And when recovery is slow or incomplete, a lack of mobility can sometimes result in social isolation and depression. In some circumstances, the psychological effects may be more long-lasting than the physical ones. Fear of another fall and a loss of confidence can discourage seniors from returning to an active life—which actually tends to make balance and reflexes deteriorate faster. Unless something happens to change things, this can be the beginning of a downward spiral.
What Can Be Done?
Chiropractic physicians are specially trained to diagnose and treat conditions related to the musculoskeletal and nervous systems, and have a deep understanding of how these systems change as we age. We can work with you to develop a personalized plan to improve your overall musculoskeletal and nervous system health, including strength, range of motion, stamina, balance, coordination and speed.
Regular chiropractic care and massage therapy can be particularly useful in maintaining flexibility, improving circulation and increasing muscle tone. Recent studies have identified strong links between the lifestyle habits we practice in young adulthood and middle age and overall health and wellness during our senior years. With this mind, a chiropractor can recommend specific nutritional and exercise strategies that can help in these key areas:
- Building healthy bone and muscle mass as the foundation for an active lifestyle.
- Stimulating and reinforcing neural pathways associated with activities requiring good balance and quick reflexes.
- Achieving a healthy weight that reduces unnecessary wear-and-tear on joints.
- Maintaining good overall cardiovascular fitness
Exercises to Improve Balance and Reflexes
Fortunately, there is a wide variety of exercises, both physical and mental, that will help improve balance and reflexes. And most of them don’t even require a gym membership or any expensive equipment! Here are just a few to consider:
- Jogging in the woods, where your body will need to react quickly to stimuli in the form of obstacles and uneven terrain. The more often you run in the forest, the quicker your reflexes will get.
- Bouncing a rubber ball on the floor, throwing it against a wall, or having a catch with a partner. These activities will all improve anticipation, reaction time, hand-eye coordination and lateral movement.
- Kicking a soccer ball back and forth with a partner or against a wall. Moving to the ball builds coordination while stopping it and striking it with either foot requires balance. The more quickly you pass the ball back and forth, the more your reflexes will improve over time.
- Practicing an appropriate form of yoga or tai chi can provide a wide range of health benefits, including improved balance and coordination.
- Playing some types of video games—especially those with motion controllers—can help improve reflexes as well as peripheral vision.
Remember—use common sense when choosing your activities. Be sure to ask your chiropractor for advice if you have any specific health conditions or if it’s been a while since you participated in any kind of strenuous physical activity.
Maintaining your musculoskeletal and nervous system health is one key to enjoying an active lifestyle at every stage of life. We can design a program that will help you do that safely. Call or visit our office to learn more!
Artists who work with glass or metal know that you should not try to bend or shape the material while it remains cold and brittle. Glass will shatter. Metal will break or quickly show signs of fatigue and damage. Our bodies also need to be warmed up to change. They need the tender, loving care of an artist to reshape them. You are that artist. And sculpting your new body takes time, patience and persistence. And yes, it takes hard work.
You can’t expect your body to react well at the beginning if you ask it to do too much after years of inactivity. Using the following SMART approach to exercise will help you get back into an exercise routine and allow you to reach your goals:
Specific—It’s most effective set exercise goals that are well-defined rather than vague. Say you want to be a trim, 165 pounds of muscle and vibrant energy. This approach to defining your goal not only gives you a specific weight to shoot for, but also describes the feeling you want to go with it.
Measurable—This makes your goal even more concrete and will help you see the progress you’re making in an objective way. Not every approach to measurement uses numbers, but numerical criteria are usually the easiest to work with. This goes for measuring activity as well as measuring the results. For example, a 30-minute, brisk walk is measurable. If you’ve only walked 25 minutes, you know you’re not done. Keeping a journal helps you compare these details later.
Action-oriented—You have to put your dreams into action, and exercise is all about physical movement. But don’t let repetitive exercise become boring. Add different kinds of action. In fact, sports medicine doctors recommend varying the activity between stretching, light endurance, vigorous strength and other types of exercise. This helps to prevent heart attacks, sprains and other maladies from pushing too hard, too fast. It also helps to keep things more interesting.
Realistic—Never let anyone tell you that something cannot be done. By the same token, it never makes sense to ignore reality. If you are not realistic in your goals, you are setting yourself up for failure. Set a few attainable short-term goals when you are starting out in a new exercise program so you are more likely to stick with it as time goes on. It will help give you more confidence and you will be more motivated to set your goals a little higher each time.
Time-related—Set deadlines. This helps to keep you challenged so you keep moving forward. Naturally, any deadline needs to be realistic (see above). You should not expect to be running marathons in one month after a couple of decades of desk work, in-car commutes and armchair quarterbacking.
Most of us are probably aware that staying in good physical condition is essential to maintaining an active lifestyle, especially as we get older. And some of us may even be aware of the links between mobility and independence and social and psychological well-being. Unfortunately, as we age, many of us are challenged to remain active because of disease, pain, stiffness or chronic or acute injuries. These problems are affecting larger numbers of people as we are living longer lifespans.
Now, a very interesting study from the University of Iowa suggests that older people who receive chiropractic care may benefit from a “protective effect” with respect to their overall health and physical capabilities. The research team came to its conclusions by comparing the experience of a group of Medicare recipients who received chiropractic care to the experience of a group of Medicare recipients who did not receive it.
Chiropractic Care vs. Standard Medical Care
The study, which was published recently in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, examined the medical records of over 1,000 senior citizens (minimum age 70) who had a back-related condition such as a musculoskeletal disease, sprain or strain, or dislocation that led to a Medicare claim. The researchers compared the experience of those who received 12 chiropractic care visits over several weeks for their condition with the experience of those who received standard medical care, which was comprised of 1-2 visits with a medical doctor over the same time period. The aim was to determine whether there was a difference in health outcomes, physical limitations and the ability to carry out daily activities between the two groups. The researchers obtained the data from the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey (MCBS) and looked at specific variables such as patients’ ability to eat, dress and bathe, sit in or get up from a chair, reach, stoop, or walk across a room. They also considered depressive symptoms and overall self-reports of satisfaction with their care based on the treatment and its cost.
Conclusions: Chiropractic Care is Protective for the Senior Population
The researchers concluded that those senior citizens at least 70 years of age who had chiropractic care had less physical deterioration and reported better overall health. Specifically, they had less difficulty with daily activities such as walking and lifting, and fewer doctor visits and hospitalizations. They were also generally more satisfied with their care and its cost, both during and after the treatment. What’s more, the patients who had chiropractic care exercised more and even reported fewer depressive symptoms. The authors concluded that chiropractic care had a protective effect on this group of patients—making it less likely that they would experience declines in overall health and physical activity levels, thus promoting a higher quality of life.
This research demonstrates that chiropractic care can provide benefits for seniors that go far beyond just relieving back pain. It can have a profound impact on all dimensions of life, from the physical to the psychological, just when we need it most.