Stretch Spring 2015

By Christine Harrison, OTR/L, Michelle Duclos ATC, Jared Ernest PT, Diana Cratem OT, CHT

Jacksonville Orthopedic Institute Rehabilitation

Stretch Spring Edition


JOI Stretch

woman practicing yoga at seashore

Keeping Bodies in Motion

Exercise: To Help Ease Aging
By Christine Harrison, OTR/L

Aging comes whether we like it or not. As the years add up, so can the effects on the body. Changes in bones, joints and muscles can lead to stiffness, weakness, and aches and pains as part of the aging process— but not necessarily. We can prevent or ease these changes with exercise. As we get older, bones lose mass and become less dense with increased risk for fractures from falls or other accidents. In joints, the ends of bones are cushioned by a layer of cartilage and fluid that lubricates the surfaces. With age, a decrease in fluid combined with thinning cartilage can contribute to a feeling of stiffness with reduced joint flexibility. In addition, muscle mass shrinks and tone decreases as we get older affecting strength and endurance. Exercise and movement can be the solution to these negative structural changes. Exercise comes in many different forms. Working in the yard, riding a bike, swimming, or washing the car can serve to stretch and mobilize your joints and strengthen muscles and bones. Stretching exercises like yoga can help to improve joint flexibility, while free weight training can help strengthen and promote muscle mass. Just 30 minutes of exercise a day can mean the difference between continuing to enjoy life or succumbing to the negative effects of aging on your bones, joints, and muscles. Check with your doctor before changing your activity level and for help with developing a specific exercise program. Do yourself well and get moving!


Breathing for Healing
By Diana Cratem, OTR/L, CHT

Breathing is necessary for life. Only a few minutes without it can lead to a loss of consciousness and eventually death. Making good breathing a part of your day can facilitate healing and well being. Proper breathing impacts wellness by lowering stress, relaxing muscles, and decreasing perspiration. When our blood is highly oxygenated, it becomes difficult for viruses and bacteria to grow in our body. Breathing well also supports muscle growth and promotes energy to finish our daily tasks. When we are conscious of our breathing, we realize that we breathe very shallow. One of the best techniques is abdominal breathing, also known as diaphragmatic breathing. The diaphragm is a large muscle in our chest that contracts and creates a downward force that causes the abdomen to expand. This improves the venous return to the heart and improves stamina during activity.

Training the Breathing Process

1. Place one hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen.
2. Take a deep breath in through the nose—the hand on your abdomen should rise higher than the one on your chest. Exhale through the mouth.
3. Take another a deep breath in through your nose (as deep as you can). If possible, count to 7 or 9 as you inhale.
4. Slowly exhale through your mouth in less time than you inhaled (if inhale to 9 , exhale to 7). As you exhale, gently contract your abdominal
muscles to completely release the air.
5. This technique should be practiced one to two times each day. It is like taking a “wellness break” during your busy day. Deep breath, in through
the nose, slow release through the mouth.

Abdominal breathing improves energy throughout the day. It helps the body to rest, gives us a feeling of calm and serenity, and creates a harmony of the mind, body and spirit. It takes about five deep breaths in a row to switch our body over to this relaxed healing mode. When you breathe deeply, you give your internal organs a message of well being while oxygenating your blood. Do not try to breathe deeply in all situations. We are not designed to breathe deeply at all times. If you get into a rhythm of deep breathing daily, you will heal faster and live a much healthier life. Where there is oxygen, there is life.

When Less Is More: How to Avoid Over-training
By Jared Ernest, MPT

It is the start of a New Year, and just like millions of Americans, you have decided to get fit. However, one issue that can derail your New Year’s pledge is the concept of over-training. What is Over-training? Over-training can occur in any type of fitness activity. Over-training happens when you perform more training than your body can handle or recover from. Your body functions on nerve impulses sent from the brain through the spine to tell the muscles what to do. When you over train, it actually overloads the system and causes the impulse to weaken and become less effective.

Common Signs of Over-training?

 Lack of motivation: Instead of invigorated, your training leaves you flat Increased soreness after a workout: This is soreness that borders on pain and actually will last for a few days.
 You stop seeing results: Working out too much can actually cause you to lose muscle and add fat. This happens as the body produces a lower testosterone ( also bad for females) and a increased level of cortisol. The body will increase both insulin resistance and fat storage.
 You become restless or lose focus: high training levels cause your sympathetic nervous system to go into hyper drive. This causes restlessness and inability to focus. It also results in decreased sleep.
 You feel sluggish all day: Again a result of decreased testosterone and increased cortisol level. These can actually produce cold-like symptoms
 Chronic soreness in the joints, bones and limbs: DOMS or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness is normal after a workout but if you feel like a Mack truck hit you, then that is over-training.
 Sick more often: You work out to be healthy, but if you are over trained , your immune system can actually weaken.

How to Avoid Over-training:
 Get plenty of sleep.
 Eat right
 Manage stress to include workout intensity
 Training : Vary your routine.
 Recovery: Take 1-2 days between training sessions

Why Does Weather Affect My Pain?

By: By: Michelle Duclos, MS, ATC, LAT

Recently, it seems we have had a weather front coming through Jacksonville every other week. For some of our patients, this causes their pain levels to change rapidly and drastically. Does the weather really have anything to do with changes in pain levels?

While there is not widespread agreement among scientists about the relationship between changing weather and pain, there are some theories about the potential relationship. A significant drop in barometric pressure is the leading theory on this topic. Although many people say that their pain worsens with damp, rainy weather, research has shown that it’s not the cold, wind, rain, or snow. More likely, the drop in barometric pressure associated with bad weather is the cause for increased pain.

Barometric pressure refers to the weight applied to your body by the atmosphere. Imagine the capsules surrounding the joints are similar to a balloon. High barometric pressure, typically associated with good weather, regardless of the temperature, pushes against the body from the outside keeping  these tissues from expanding. When a front comes through and the barometric pressure drops, the pres- sure applied to the “balloon” is less, allowing the tissues to expand. Research has come to mixed conclusions. There are some people who say that the barometric pressure does not affect their pain. While this re- mains just a theory, barometric pressure seems a likely explanation because barometric pressure does affect our bodies. Some patients have thought that moving to a place with a warmer climate will help their pain levels. However, as mammals, humans adjust to their environment, and this means that the body would adjust to the climate after living there for some time.

Here are some tips for dealing with fluctuating pain levels during weather changes:

1. Stay warm: Dress in layers. Keep your house warm. Warm up the car before
you have to get in it for work or errands. Sleep under an electric blanket.
2. Try to prevent swelling: If you have joint pain in your hands, try wearing spandex gloves at night to keep swelling out of the joints. Wear compression stockings for joint pain in your legs.
3. Keep moving: before going out into the elements, try moving around the house.
4. Remember the pain is temporary: when inclement weather approaches, the barometric pressure drops are only temporary. The body will adjust to the barometric pressure changes.

If you want to learn more about other medical topics, go to:

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