Muscle Loss with Age – If you Don’t Use it You Will Lose It!

Aging is usually linked with a gradual loss of muscle strength and muscle mass, causing fragility, falls, functional decline, and a general feeling of weakness and loss of function for life’s tasks and enjoyments. A recent study evaluated whether masters competition athletes who engage in high levels of regular exercise also lose muscle mass and strength as they get older. The question for this study was whether the decline in muscle mass is inevitable with age, or was it a consequence of a sedentary less active lifestyle? Perhaps muscles waste away if they are not used in old age?

Many previous research studies had showed that most people over 40 years of age, generally lose about 8% or more of their muscle mass every 10 years. The rate of muscle loss increases to about 15% after the age of 70 years. Losing muscle mass generally leads to a decline in strength, accidents, mobility and eventually loss of independence.

Loss of Calcium from bones also occurs with age and exercise helps to delay this loss as well.

The combined effect of weakened muscles and bones is an increased rate of falls and bone breakages.

There is growing evidence that master athletes, many of whom train four to five times every week, may not show the same loss of total lean muscle mass and loss of strength compared to those who live a more sedentary lifestyle.

Master athletes and those who work out at the gym continue to maintain a good quality of life and their functional capacity throughout their lives as the get older.

It is an assumption that growing old leads to an inevitable decline from vitality and activity to frailty and a sedentary lifestyle.

This includes feeling generally weak, and unsteady, lacking self-confidence, loss of function and often the loss of independence.

These losses may be more related to lifestyle choices, including lack of exercises, sedentary living, depression and poor nutrition, than the loss of muscle and bone through the aging processes.

Studying master athletes may show whether muscle decline is inevitable as people get older, or is it a simple consequence of people becoming less active as they get older.

Perhaps regular exercise may help to preserve both muscle mass and strength. If you don’t use it you lose it!

InSync Physiotherapy is a multi-award winning health clinic helping you in Sports Injuries, Physiotherapy, Exercise Rehabilitation, Massage Therapy, Acupuncture & IMS.

Tips for Living with High Foot Arches

High foot arches are surprisingly common, but they can create problems for people who do not know how to best live with them or perhaps do not even realize that they have high arches. High foot arches do not support the body properly and tend to place excess pressure on the pelvis, which can eventually result in postural problems. High arches can be the result of a congenital abnormality, trauma, or sometimes even a neurological disorder.

Do I have high arches?

If you have any concerns about your feet, then a visit to your local podiatrist is always a good idea. Your podiatrist will be able to determine if you need a particular type of shoe , over-the-counter insert, or custom orthotic to support your foot. An easy way to check whether you have high arches is to look at your footprint any time you are in bare feet. If your footprint shows a curved, narrow print with only a thin strip connecting the heel and ball of the foot, then you probably have high arches.

What are the common problems resulting from high arches?

The biggest problem for people with high arches is that their foot tends to supinate, or roll outwards, while walking or running. This can lead to pain while walking or running as the high arches are not supporting the body correctly; the side of the foot makes contact with the ground first and normal pronation does not occur. If you are not sure whether your foot supinates when you walk you only need to take a look at a pair of shoes that you have worn for a while. If your shoes have more wear on the outside than on the inner edge of the shoe, then you know that your feet roll outwards as you walk.

If you do have this problem, there are a few things you can do to make your life easier:

  • Try to maintain your ideal body weight. Being overweight can cause problems for anyone but as high arches do not support the body properly supported the problem is worse for those with this condition.
  • Buy stable shoes with good arch support. The pain you experience after walking or running can be reduced by distributing your body weight evenly – cushioning your feet with arch supports will help to spread out the weight.
  • If none of these options help to relieve the pain you experience then it may be helpful to purchase an orthotic insert to address your issue.
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Are Foam Rollers for Muscle Massage Really Beneficial?

Over recent years, foam rollers have sprouted like flowers in spring. Media reports have celebrated the use of these rollers and other aids for promoting a type of self-administered massage therapy called “self-myofascial release.” This soft tissue therapy for the treatment of skeletal muscle immobility and pain purportedly soothes muscle soreness, increases range of motion, and even improves athletic performance.

Now scientists have begun to test these claims with controlled trials.

A recent review of the published literature and studies presented at the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) 62nd Annual Meeting challenge assertions about the increased performance benefits of self-myofascial release. But they do support self-myofascial release as way of improving range of motion.

Self-Myofascial Release vs Massage Therapy

In self-myofascial release, people massage their own soft tissue. Researchers have supposed that this technique might produce some of the same benefits shown in myofascial release that is administered by physical therapists.

One theory is that fasciae tighten as a protective mechanism in response to trauma. Over time, collagen becomes more dense and fibrous, and elastin—a highly elastic protein in connective tissue—becomes less resilient. This can reduce muscle functioning and cause pain. Myofascial release, in this theory, whether self-administered or administered by someone trained in the technique, might reverse this process.

In addition, some research suggests that injury, disease, inactivity, and inflammation may cause fibrous adhesions to form in muscle tissue, also limiting its normal functioning. Myofascial release could break these adhesions.

Studies in myofascial release suggest that it can change a muscle’s viscoelastic properties, increasing mitochondria biogenesis and blood flow. Other potential effects might include changes in tissue gene expression, limb circumference, circulating neutrophil counts, and improved mood.

InSync Physiotherapy is a multi-award winning health clinic helping you in Sports Injuries, Physiotherapy, Exercise Rehabilitation, Massage Therapy, Acupuncture & IMS.

9 Surprising Foods that Fight Pain

What do a cup of coffee, a bowl of beans, and a couple of ibuprofen have in common? Surprising answer: They all reduce pain. Popping a pill may be easier, but it does nothing to cure the underlying cause of your pain like eating the right foods can do. The number of foods proven to offer relief is growing. Here are six common aches and pains and the foods that help fight them.

Achy joints

Food Rx: Cherries, turmeric

Here’s sweet news: Preliminary research suggests that eating about 20 tart cherries may be as effective as taking ibuprofen for reducing pain. In a more recent study, eating about 45 cherries a day reduced C-reactive protein, a major marker of inflammation associated with arthritis, by 25%. Likewise, the spice turmeric contains curcumin, a compound that in one study eased pain as well as ibuprofen did in people with knee osteoarthritis.

Sore Muscles

Food Rx: Ginger

Walking like a cowboy after that set of squats? Sip ginger tea. In a recent study, people who lifted weights experienced 25% less post-workout pain 24 hours after consuming ginger (about half a teaspoon a day for 11 days) than those taking a placebo. Researchers credit gingerols, antioxidants that have anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving properties.

Heartburn

Food Rx: Beans

While fiber giveth (gas), it also taketh away (acid reflux). A study in the journal Gut found that people who regularly ate high-fiber foods like beans were 20% less likely to report GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) symptoms, probably because fiber moves food out of the stomach faster and prevents reflux.

Digestive Pain

Food Rx: Peppermint, coconut

The menthol in fresh peppermint and peppermint tea acts as a carminative (a compound that relieves gas and bloating) and a muscle relaxer, which can help relieve the cramping and spasms associated with occasional intestinal distress and full-blown IBS. For diarrhea, it’s suggested to eat 1 to 3 teaspoons of shredded unsweetened coconut, which has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.

PMS Cramps

Food Rx: Nuts

Your body may be telling you that you need brownies, but opt for trail mix when that PMS funk hits. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that women with the highest intakes of riboflavin from foods such as almonds were more than a third less likely to develop PMS, including cramps and brain fog, than those who had the lowest intakes. Foods high in vitamin B6, such as pistachios, can also help reduce irritability, cramps, and fluid retention associated with PMS.

Headaches

Food Rx: Coffee, pumpkin seeds

Your pounding head is often a result of dilated, or enlarged, blood vessels in your brain. Caffeinated drinks such as coffee can help constrict blood vessels and ease the pain; they also make painkillers work better so you can reduce your dose. But if you have the mother of all headaches—a migraine—you may be deficient in magnesium and could benefit from foods rich in this nutrient, such as pumpkin seeds. Magnesium helps calm the overexcited nerves and tense muscles that contribute to migraine pain. (It’s also one of the best foods for your heart.)

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The Mystery of Foot Cramps Explained

Muscle cramps (including the foot) are extremely common; in fact, according to MedicineNet.com, it is estimated that 95 percent of people experience a muscle cramp at some time in their life! There are many causes and treatments of muscle cramps, so if you are interested in learning more, keep reading!

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons defines a muscle cramp as an involuntary and forcibly contracted muscle that does not relax. Cramps can affect any muscle under voluntary control (skeletal muscle). Cramps can involve part or all of a muscle, or several muscles in a group. Cramps of the extremities, especially the legs and feet, and most particularly the calf, are extremely common. Other common areas for muscle cramps include: back and front of the thigh, hands, arms, abdomen, and rib cage muscles.

So, who gets cramps? Like I said earlier, statistics show that just about everyone will get some type of muscle cramp during their lifetime. They can come at any time too, with exercise or activity, or even when at rest or during sleep. Sometimes all it takes is the slightest movement that shortens a muscle to trigger a cramp (in your case, pointing your toes in Pilates shortens the muscles of the arch of your foot, which seems to trigger the cramps). According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, some people are predisposed to muscle cramps and get them regularly with any physical exertion. Muscle cramps are very common among endurance athletes who perform strenuous physical activity. Those at greatest risk are people over age 65, those who are ill, overweight, overexert during work or exercise, or take certain medications.

Common causes of muscle cramps include: overuse of a muscle, dehydration, depletion of salt and minerals (electrolytes such as magnesium, potassium and calcium), muscle strain/injury, or simply holding a position for a prolonged period of time. Another type of common muscle cramp is a nocturnal or rest cramp, which happens in your calf or toe muscles when you are resting or sleeping. However, the exact cause of muscle cramps remains unknown, although some researchers believe inadequate stretching and muscle fatigue leads to abnormalities in mechanisms that control muscle contraction.

In terms of treatment for muscle and foot cramps, you can generally treat muscle cramps with self-care measures, and most cramps can be stopped if the muscle can be stretched. For many cramps of the feet and legs, this stretching can be done by simply standing up and walking around. Typically, you want to try and gently stretch the muscle away from the cramping position and hold it there until the cramp goes away. Gently massaging the muscle will often help it to relax, as will applying warmth from a heating pad or hot/warm soak. If the muscle cramp is associated with fluid loss, as usually is the case with physical activity, fluid and electrolyte replacement is essential. There are a few steps you can take to prevent muscle cramps. Avoid dehydration by drinking plenty of liquids every day and during physical activity, replenish fluids at regular intervals and continue hydration after you’re finished. Also, stretch your muscles before and after you use any muscle for an extended period. If you have night cramps, stretch the affected muscles before bedtime.

Although most muscle cramps are benign, sometimes they can be an indication of a more serious medical condition. You should see your physician or medical health professional if the cramps are severe in nature, happen frequently, are persistent, fail to respond to simple treatments, or are not related to obvious causes like exercise or injury. You could have problems with circulation, nerves, metabolism, hormones, or nutrition. However, it is uncommon for muscle cramps to occur as the result of a medical condition without other obvious signs that the medical condition is present.

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4 Exercises for Aching Knees

This may sound counterintuitive, but medical experts agree that if you have aching knees, then sitting on the sidelines may not be the best answer for you. Getting out and exercising may be the best way to get rid of the pain.

One of the common concerns for those with knee pain is that the muscles around the knee are not as strong as they could be or should be.

While it’s always important to consult with your doctor before starting any new exercise program, here are some exercises that can help strengthen the muscles around your knees, thereby reducing knee pain:

1. Wall Sits

  • Sit with your back against a wall and your legs at a 45 to 50-degree angle. Going to a 90 degree angle isn’t recommended because this can put too much pressure on your kneecaps and cause knee pain.
  • When “sitting”, make sure your knees are behind your toes.
  • Sit and hold this position for 1 minute, then rest and repeat.
  • Bend the knees and lower down into a squat position. You should work to maintain a tall spine and proud chest as you lower down.

2. Leg Extensions

  • Standing with one hand on a table, chair or wall to stabilize you—take the leg opposite of your stabilizing hand and lift the outside leg off of the floor in front of you.
  • When lifting your leg, bend the knee at about a 45-degree angle.
  • Straighten the leg in front of you and bend back to the starting position.
  • Do 10 repetitions of these then rest and repeat.

3. Leg Lifts

  • Lay on your back with your hand by your sides.
  • Lift both legs 6 inches off of the ground, making sure to keep your legs straight.
  • Hold this position for 20 seconds, then rest and repeat.

4. Straight-Leg Raises

  • Lay on your back with one leg straight out and the other bent at the knee with the foot pressed flat against the ground.
  • Contract your quadricep on the straight leg and raise approximately 8 inches off of the ground.
  • Hold this position for 20 seconds, then rest and repeat with the other leg.
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Myofascial Release for Hip Flexors to Relieve Low Back Pain

The hip flexor muscle, also known as iliopsoas, can cause severe pain if it gets tight. Its main function is to flex the thigh. The constant running and lunging on the tennis court can easily overwork the hip flexors. They get short and tight and very often will form trigger points.

The hip flexors are actually two different muscles: the psoas runs on the sides of the lumbar spine to the hip, and iliacus that runs from each side of pelvis and joins the psoas at the hip.

Trigger points in hip flexor refer pain into the low back, alongside the spine or across the back. It can be pretty excruciating – standing or lying down – and almost nothing can relieve it. Sometimes it is hard to get up, you might feel sciatica symptoms, and you can feel pain in the front of the thigh as well.

Activities that can activate the trigger points in hip flexors are:

  • Prolonged sitting or sleeping with the hips bent in fetal position will shorten the hip flexors and activate the trigger points.
  • Bending to the sides when your core is not strong.
  • Trunk rotations.
  • Tight quadriceps prevents proper hip extension and as a result generating more tension there. Be good about stretching your quadriceps regularly, and perform myofascial release on it, too. The quadriceps is very overworked muscle groups in a tennis player.
  • Muscular imbalances between your left and right side.
  • Leg length difference.

Stretching your hip-flexor is extremely important, but it may not be enough when you have developed trigger points. Myofascial release will bring you more relief.

Myofascial Release of Hip Flexors

Lie down on your stomach and place the ball high up towards your hips, just inside of the hip bone. Now as you transfer your body weight on the ball, relax as much as you can, and let the ball push inside your pelvis. If your hip flexor is very tight, this could feel very uncomfortable. Breathe deeply and stay in the place until you feel that the muscles start relaxing. Then move the ball around a bit to different position and repeat. Try to find the most uncomfortable spots and release them all.

You can do this with a tennis ball as well. But because the tennis ball is smaller, it will take more practice how to position the body to find and release the trigger points. Because you reach much deeper the discomfort can be higher, but you will feel really great when all the tension in the hip flexors is gone and you play tennis pain free.

InSync Physiotherapy is a multi-award winning health clinic helping you in Sports Injuries, Physiotherapy, Exercise Rehabilitation, Massage Therapy, Acupuncture & IMS.

4 Reasons You Feel Tired Every Day

You know that feeling that sets in every day at about 3:00 p.m.? The groggy, let’s shuffle through the rest of the workday feeling? Turns out you don’t need a third cup of coffee or diet soda to nix it; just check out these four energy boosters.

Your Comfy Desk Chair

The Reason: Ever wondered why sitting in your car then transitioning to sitting down in your office chair can feel so utterly exhausting? Sitting for long periods of time puts your body into idle mode. Your lack of movement makes circulation sluggish and lowers the amount of oxygen flowing to your brain. Cue the onslaught of yawns.

The Solution: Go for a walk. Studies show getting up and moving can boost energy for up to two hours. Walking is the simplest, most natural form of exercise. Taking brisk, 10-minute walks a day helps increase circulation, lower blood pressure, and instantly perk you up. Getting out in the sunlight also boosts your serotonin levels so you come back to your work refreshed, more productive and even more creative.

Your Messy Desk Space

The Reason: The reason you feel too zapped to clean up your cluttered desk or office home? The mess itself. Not only is there literally less space to do your work, create your art, make a magical spreadsheet, etc., but all the stuff is staring at you, reminding you of the hundred other things you have to do. Your clouded brain isn’t able to be fully present to the work at hand. Looking for your notes from that one meeting or your favorite pen wastes time and tires you out before you’ve even started.

The Solution: You’ve heard that the bedroom should be reserved for two activities: sleep and sex. Well, your desk should be reserved for current work projects and the tools that facilitate that. This means your computer, materials relating to your current project, a few writing utensils, and a small amount of office supplies like a notepad, a stapler, scissors, tape and paper clips (unless you have room for those in a desk drawer) can stay. Everything else is having a judgment day.

Your Breakfast

The Reason: This meal can make or break your energy reserve for the rest of the day. If it’s way too large (like Sunday-brunch status) you’ll be left feeling sluggish, and if you forget to eat it in the first place, your metabolism will never get that wake-up call.

The Solution: For a winning breakfast to fuel your energy, follow the 1, 2, 3 rule. The breakfast must have:

  1. Whole grains, which provide high-quality carbs for the brain during the morning hours.
  2. A little protein to keep you satiated and maintain your blood sugar level throughout the morning.
  3. One or two colorful fruits and vegetables.

Try a bowl of whole-grain cereal with low-fat milk and a handful of berries on top with a side of sliced watermelon, or make a smoothie with fruit, soymilk and wheat germ.

Dehydration

The Reason: You may not feel like you’re walking through the Sahara, but there’s a good chance you’re mildly dehydrated right now, and even mild dehydration makes you feel sleepy and sluggish. Many of us walk around dehydrated without realizing it. Dehydrated bodies trap toxins and encourage water retention — a natural defense against the chronic drought. Remember, your body is about 60 percent water, and there’s no way it can function at its optimal level during a drought.

The Solution: Next time you’re feeling drowsy, chug a glass of cold water for an instant fix. Then, take a look at how much water you’ve been drinking. You should aim to drink half your body weight in ounces of water every day. If you weigh 150 pounds, that’s 75 ounces of water (about 9 cups). If you want something more pleasing to your palate, snack on watermelon, which is about 91 percent water.

InSync Physiotherapy is a multi-award winning health clinic helping you in Sports Injuries, Physiotherapy, Exercise Rehabilitation, Massage Therapy, Acupuncture & IMS.

Four Tips for Improving Posture

Over time, poor posture may be caused by habits from everyday activities such as sitting in office chairs, staring at the computer, cradling a cell phone, carrying a purse over same shoulder, driving, prolonged standing, caring for small children, or even sleeping.

Poor posture can easily become second nature, causing and aggravating episodes of back and neck pain and damaging spinal structures. Fortunately, the main factors affecting posture and ergonomics are completely within one’s ability to control and are not difficult to change.

Here are several ways to improve posture and ergonomics, especially for people who work sitting in an office chair for most of the day.

Identify the Warning Signs of Back Pain

Back pain may be the result of poor ergonomics and posture if the back pain is worse at certain times of day or week (such as after a long day of sitting in an office chair in front of a computer, but not during the weekends); pain that starts in the neck and moves downwards into the upper back, lower back, and extremities; pain that goes away after switching positions; sudden back pain that is experienced with a new job, a new office chair, or a new car; and/or back pain that comes and goes for months.

Keep the body in alignment while sitting in an office chair and while standing When standing, distribute body weight evenly to the front, back, and sides of the feet. While sitting in an office chair, take advantage of the chair’s features. Sit up straight and align the ears, shoulders, and hips in one vertical line. Any prolonged sitting position, even a good one, can be tiring. Shifting forward to the edge of the seat with a straight back can alternate with sitting back against the support of the office chair to ease the work of back muscles.

Some people benefit from a naturally balanced posture that is achieved by sitting on a balance ball; in this posture the pelvis is rocked gently forward increasing the lumbar curve which naturally shifts the shoulders back (similar to sitting on the edge of a chair seat).

Also be aware of and avoid unbalanced postures such as crossing legs unevenly while sitting, leaning to one side, hunching the shoulders forward, or tilting the head.

Get Up and Move

As muscles tire, slouching, slumping, and other poor postures become more likely; this in turn puts extra pressure on the neck and back. In order to maintain a relaxed yet supported posture, change positions frequently. One way is to take a break from sitting in an office chair every half hour for two minutes in order to stretch, stand, or walk.

Increase Awareness of Posture in Everyday Settings

Becoming aware of posture and ergonomics at work, at home, and at play is a vital step towards instilling good posture and ergonomic techniques. This includes making conscious connections between episodes of back pain and specific situations where poor posture or ergonomics may be the root cause of the pain.

Use Exercise to Help Prevent Injury and Promote Good Posture

Regular exercise such as walking, swimming, or bicycling will help the body stay aerobically conditioned, while specific strengthening exercises will help the muscles surrounding the back to stay strong. These benefits of exercise promote good posture, which will, in turn, further help to condition muscles and prevent injury.

There are also specific exercises that will help maintain good posture. In particular, a balance of core muscle and back muscle strength is essential to help support the upper body and maintain good posture.

InSync Physiotherapy is a multi-award winning health clinic helping you in Sports Injuries, Physiotherapy, Exercise Rehabilitation, Massage Therapy, Acupuncture & IMS.

12 Muscle-Building Foods

Building muscle is a balance between strategic strength training and an eating plan that includes proper protein and healthy carbohydrates while limiting refined sugars, processed food, and artificial ingredients. This doesn’t mean that you have to settle for the same salmon and kale for lunch and a dry chicken breast for dinner.

Here is a compilation of 12 muscle-building foods that can add variety to your diet and help you sculpt those muscles into flex-worthy shape.

1. Greek Yogurt: With more than twice the protein of regular yogurt, Greek yogurt is a great source to turn to when focused on muscle enhancement. Just be careful to look out for artificial colors, added sugars, and ingredients. Greek Yogurt also contains casein, a slow digesting milk protein to help keep you feeling full longer.

2. Black Beans: Don’t save these gems for taco night. Eating black beans provides you with vitamins B, K, C, and A which are low in saturated fats. It’s a high protein and fiber food that is low in calories. Yes, please.

3. Cottage Cheese: Also containing casein, cottage cheese additionally contains an average of 28 grams of protein in one cup! Choosing a low-fat cottage cheese is a great option provided it has not been supplemented with extra sugar or sodium.

4. Eggs: A whole egg is a perfect pick for a protein punch. And don’t get rid of the yolk! When trying to build muscle, the yolk contains beneficial nutrients worthy of consumption.

5. Broccoli: Not only is broccoli low in calories and filling, it also contains a significant amount of soluble fiber, which aids in fat loss. Who doesn’t love a fat loss bonus?!

6. Chocolate Milk: Another option containing the slow-digesting protein, casein, chocolate milk has been touted as not only a great post-workout recovery drink, but a good source of necessary carbs.

7. Almonds: These nuts stack up high when it comes to fiber and protein in comparison to most nut options. They also contain vitamin B, a vitamin linked to energize metabolism.

8. Raspberries: Raspberries contain the most fiber of all berries. A fiber-filled diet is imperative for proper digestion and muscle sculpting. The antioxidants can also help regulate metabolic rates and insulin sensitivity.

9. Avocados: Packed with monosaturated fat, the “good” fat, avocados can help eliminate weight from the midsection while containing a host of 20 different essential nutrients.

10. Quinoa: An option over grains that are high in amino acids, which sets it apart from most carbohydrates in your diet.

11. Apples: Offering electrolytes, carbs, and fiber, apples are a great post-workout snack and option for adding muscle mass to your physique.

12. Spinach: Not only known as a superfood, the calcium in spinach can help to relax muscles and prevent cramping during muscle training intervals.

InSync Physiotherapy is a multi-award winning health clinic helping you in Sports Injuries, Physiotherapy, Exercise Rehabilitation, Massage Therapy, Acupuncture & IMS.
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