The Importance of Movement
As this is #WomensHealthWeek, and the theme is ‘the Importance of Movement’, I thought I’d write about what happens as we get older and how are movement is affected.
We are born without the ability to control much of how we move; we can suckle, and that’s about it. But within a few weeks we start to track objects of interest with out eyes, then we turn out head to look at objects of interest, (usually a parent or sibling), then we start to get rudimentary use of our upper limbs, then we learn to lift our head and role onto our stomach, and now we can use our arms to push ourselves up and our neck muscles to support our head. Then we start to get stability in our trunk muscles so that we can sit and start to reach out, and then we are crawling, toddling and eventually running.
In other words we go through a sequence of learning where we move with increasing complexity, from simple reflexes to the ability to stabilise ourselves against gravity and then the ability to perform complex volitional activity such as eating or running.
This means that if we need to restore movement, say after an injury or an illness, we need to think in terms of this hierarchy, reflexes – stability – complex movement.
Humans are unique in that we have a complex postural system that enables us to stand upright on two unstable pins, that’s why it takes us three years to learn to walk efficiently. But it is under constant stress and it’s ability to perform this task starts to deteriorate as we age unless we take steps to keep it in top condition.
In research published in Queensland: Falling is not just for older women: support for pre-emptive prevention intervention before 60 (J.C Nitz and N.L Low Choy 2008), the researchers assessed women between the ages of 40 and 80 for the risk of falling. 8% of women in their forties, 14% in their 50s, 25% in their 60s and 40% in their 70s had fallen in the previous 12 months. In addition, the risk of falling increased significantly if the woman had other health problems.
Their conclusions was that for women over 40 years old, the number of illnesses increase the risk of falling and the risks increased still further if they were over 60. Preventative program participation aimed at maintaining good health appears vital to prevent falls.
To put it another way, our stability starts to drop in our 40’s. Falls are a natural consequence of reduced stability but they are not the only consequence. The early consequences are less efficient use of posture which leads to stiffness and back pain.
So, in order to perform any meaningful activity, we must first be stable. Stability is really the ability to maintain balance while we shift our weight. When it starts to drop it means that we have less ability to generate momentum to move forwards. And if we are unable to generate as much momentum, then our step gets shorter, and if our step gets really short we require a stick to help support ourselves. Thus our ability to move becomes compromised.
So as we get older we get stiffer and less stable, which leads to weight bearing changes. It also leads to restriction in movement. It’s important therefore to not only keep mobile but also work on keeping yourself stable. Exercise that can help this includes dance, yoga and Tai Chi. It is also important to work on your posture. Posture is basically how well you control your relationship to the ground and how efficiently you are able to shift your weight in order to generate momentum.
If you want to lean more about posture and how to keep yourself mobile and pain free, then we have an online educational program called Perfect Posture Online that maybe for you, or if you wish to take a class we have our Perfect Posture Program. Our Online program and class has been developed from 25 years of rehabilitation of chronic back pain, and 10 years of measuring balance and analysing posture with computerised posturography. The purpose of the program is to teach you how your postural system works, so that you can use it in any situation, whether you are standing at a meeting, sitting at your desk or putting your child in the back of the car. This six week program is suitable for anyone who wishes to improve their posture from children aged eight and above, right through to seniors.
If you feeling stiff or having difficulty getting out of a chair, or are concerned about your balance then we recommend having a balance test. Our test is very accurate and non invasive and provides us with the information we need to develop a very specific balance rehabilitation program for you. Click the button below for more information.
PERFECT POSTURE ONLINE
Perfect Posture Online is our unique six week postural education system that teaches you how to stand, sit and move from the ground up.
In this online course, we teach six principles that you can apply in your daily life to maintain a strong healthy spine.
This course is included as part of our rehabilitation if you are taking one of our 12 week programs, or you can take it on its own. A popular option is to take it with a Perfect Posture Screen with additional specific exercises to work on.
PERFECT POSTURE PROGRAM
The Perfect Posture Program builds on the six week education system of Perfect Posture Online. We start with a Posture Screen where we analyse your posture in detail and design additional exercises specific to your condition. This program is provided in small classes as participants gain additional value from watching others.
BETTER BALANCE SCREEN
Our Better Balance Screen is a computerised posturographic assessment of falls risk by measuring your stability. It is quick, non invasive and very accurate using research grade posturographic equipment.
Book your detailed Better Balance Screen at our practice if referred by your practitioner, or if you are concerned about your balance and want answers.
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