Exercise can relieve back pain

I have been reading in my physiotherapy press about how the numerous studies have shown that exercise can relieve pain in the back.

The latest research has also shown that exercise can also decrease the risk of developing lower back pain in the first place.

This isn’t news for many physios who have been treating back pain since the profession began, but good to know there is research out there to back it up.

So if you have back pain or wish to prevent back pain, an exercise programme (prescribed by an appropriate healthcare professional such as a physiotherapist), could be well worth the time and effort.

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Does your knee give way?


I have been reading the latest articles in my physiotherapy journal and was interested in an article  regarding knee buckling.

(Nevitt MC et al. Symptoms of Knee Instability Are Risk Factors for Recurrent Falls, Arthritis Care and Research 2016.)

It reports…

Older people sometimes describe a fall as having been caused by their knee buckling, or giving way. New research shows that knee-buckling is linked with an increased risk of falls, especially among people who have knee pain or osteoarthritis.

The researchers  analysed data covering 1,842 people in the US Multicenter Osteoarthritis Study. The patients, aged 54 to 84 (average age 67) when the study started, were followed up five years later.

Because knee buckling can be caused by muscle weakness and poor balance, researchers recommend a programme of targeted exercises to increase the joint’s stability and reduce its likelihood of giving way. Building knee stability also improves patients’ quality of life as they regain confidence in their balance, say the authors.

Those who, before the trial started, had already experienced a fall when their knee buckled were 4.5 times more likely than others to have had further falls in the next five years. They were twice as likely to have been significantly injured in a fall, three times as likely to have had their movement limited by a fall injury, and four times as likely to lack confidence in their balance.

‘Interventions that reduce knee buckling may help prevent falls, fall-related injuries and adverse psychological consequences of falls in persons with knee osteoarthritis,’ the authors conclude.

If you have experienced your knee giving way, knee exercises have been shown to help prevent falls and help prevent knee bucklimg episodes. Give those knees the strength they need to work and they will do their job.

If in doubt what exercise is right for you then I recommend asking your GP, physiotherapist or appropriate healthcare professional.

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Does the weather affect your joints?

It may seem like an old wives’ tale but  most physiotherapists will tell you that many of their arthritic patients can tell  when the weather is about to change for the worse before it actually does saying they feel it in their bones. So I was very interested when I read the following in Mature Times.

‘It’s a mystery that’s perplexed people for over 2,000 years, but now University of Manchester scientists are on the verge of working out if the weather affects pain in people with arthritis and other conditions, all thanks to the British public and their smartphones.
Cloudy with a Chance of Pain, which launched yesterday (3 February) is the world’s first smartphone-based study to investigate the association between pain and the weather. The study will be carried out during 2016 using a smartphone platform called UMotif which people will use to record how they’re feeling, whilst local weather data is automatically collected using the phone’s GPS.
Anyone in the UK with arthritis or chronic pain and aged over 17 can take part. All participants need is a smartphone.

The University of Manchester research is supported by Arthritis Research UK, uMotif in London, and the Office for Creative Research in New York.  It is being carried out in association with the University’s Health e-Research Centre.

Those who choose to use the uMotif app will record their symptoms each day, which will be tied into automatically collected local weather information. Even people who don’t have pain will be able to participate by browsing through the data and submitting their own ideas.

Once the project ends in January 2017, the research team will also carry out a formal analysis and hope to use the information for generating pain forecasts, allowing people to plan their weekly activities.’

The app, developed by uMotif, and for further information google cloudy with a chance of rain.

So why not sign up and help to decide…old wives’ tale or scientific fact?

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Do you keep forgetting the score?

I have been researching a little about memory as we age as many fellow players have said they find it increasingly difficult to remember the score when playing tennis.

It has been really interesting and begins to explain a lot! Did you know that the brain starts to shrink from the age of 30?

It is perfectly normal to forget things, after all, we are not computers! However, as we age, particularly between 30 to mid 60s, there is a gradual decline in the blood flow and oxygen getting to our brains. The memory areas start to shrink.

Its not all bad news as during our 50s we are best at general knowledge and vocabulary recall. good for pub quizzes!

In our 60s we may find it harder to restart/remember words if interupted so need to try to focus more on the task to prevent this.

So what can we do…its seems we’re back to the benefits of exercise as this will help increase the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain. Practise your focus with crosswords or puzzles will also help.

Good luck and try to focus on that scoring.

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‘Strong legs keep your mind young’

When reading one of the national papers I noticed this headline. It seems that the brain ages more slowly in women whose legs are stronger.

A study at Kings College London looked at 150 pairs of female twins and measured their mental agility and muscle strength over a 10 year period. Those with stronger legs performed better in the mental agility tests than those with weaker legs. It is thought that exercising the muscles leads to the release of hormones that make the brain cells grow and connect.

Scientists think the processes would be the same in men so good news for all those who are staying fit and exercising, reaping the benefits in so many ways. Happy exercising!

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Get up and go!

Research has shown that one in three people over 65 will have a fall this year. Even people in good health fall. This can put the over 65’s at risk of injury and so the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP), along with Public Health England and Saga, have produced a booklet (called Get up and Go), that gives advice on avoiding falls. It includes simple exercise suggestions,  safety tips for your home and what to do if you have fallen.

If you know someone who might benefit from this advice, the booklet can be downloaded from the CSP website.

Log on to csp.org.uk and then put ‘Get up and Go’ in the search box and it will take you to the appropriate web pages.

Thanks for spreading the word!

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Sleep to stay healthy!

The government is launching a campaign to encourage middle age people to sleep more. Scientists in Surrey found that people who get less than six hours sleep have changes to 700 different genes, possibly explaining why they suffer from a range of health problems.

Public Health England are encouraging adults between the ages of 40-60 to get more sleep. Apparently, this age range is the most sleep-deprived  group.

I have often thought that people underestimate the benefits of sleep. It isn’t wasted time as I have heard some say, but invaluable time when your body and mind recuperate. So important for all of us who like to keep active.

More early nights from now on is on the cards for me!!

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Physical inactivity is a killer!

The Department for Culture and Sport has produced a strategic paper that states, ‘Physical inactivity is a hidden killer. It directly contributes to one in six deaths in the UK, the same proportion as smoking. It is the fourth largest cause of disease and disability in the UK.’

I know that I am preaching to the converted, but it is hard to ignore those sort of statistics even if you are active. I think it is important to remind ourselves of the benefits of exercise to ensure we keep going, and secondly, it may help you encourage your less active friends to start getting active.

We know that regular exercise can keep older hearts healthy, strengthen muscles and so protect joints. It can help depression and it is thought to have a positive impact on the many forms of dementia.

So lets try to spread the word and encourage our less active friends to get active. You can start at any age, just build up slowly and seek the advice of your GP if you are not sure what to do. Stay active to stay young!

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Keep hydrated for better play

Just a quick reminder to keep hydrated in this lovely weather we are experiencing.

It is very easy to become dehydrated and the effects of dehydration can directly affect your ability to play tennis as well as being detrimental to your health.

When you are playing in hot weather, the body attempts to cool itself by sweating. This leads to loss of body fluids and salts and  the blood volume drops blood pressure causing fatigue.

So, to get the most out of your game this summer, remember to keep hydrated whilst playing and not leave it until after you have finished.

Have a great summer!

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