Metabolic Age Answers Why You Haven’t Been Feeling Like Your Old Self

Our spring Mind Core Body session begins Tues. April 4th, and participants in the nutritional wellness portion, called IN.FORM,  will get the info, how-to and support to change their body’s metabolic function and lower their age—metabolic age that is. But what is metabolic age?

Debbie Downer Thanksgiving Dinner - Saturday Night Live

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The body’s metabolic process, among other things, uses good bacteria in the digestive system to clear out substances that are harmful to our bodies.

A metabolic age equal to or less than chronological age is desirable, while a higher metabolic age, or “slow metabolism,” is associated with higher weight and other undesirable health numbers. It’s similar to the Real Age that Dr. Oz talks about. They both compare chronological age with an amalgam of factors that determine that internal age. Yet, IN.FORM differs by focusing on nutrition and gut health .

If you’re struggling with your weight, chances are that you haven’t felt like your old self. Dieting can help to an extent, but if your metabolism is inefficient, diet won’t work no matter how hard you try, and any weight lost may be short lived.

So those are two cents from Downer Deb, but the good news is that IN.FORM participants will get tailored nutritional advice from a certified health coach. They will learn how to keep the weight off and put their knowledge to use with the support of other motivated classmates.

Pain There From Elsewhere: Choosing The Right Pain Management Exercises

Engaging in physical activity is the best thing to do for pain management. And what better time was there to be active than last week! Those four record days of winter warmth were a godsend. Muscle strengthening and stretching are a physical activity that you can use to combat your pain, but when considering which exercises to do, remember this rule: The pain you feel “there” probably comes from elsewhere. Let us explain with three quick examples.

Knee pain

Knee pain can stop many people from engaging in the activities they like to do. When considering which muscles to strengthen, don’t stop at the quadriceps.

This hamstring stretch may be performed with an exercise band or a towel.
This hamstring stretch may be performed with an exercise band or a towel.

Instead, stretch and strengthen with balance in mind. Since the quadriceps muscles are already well developed, the hamstrings should be strengthened to balance the force placed on the knee by the quads. This advice is particularly useful for runners since knee pain is the main reason runners stop running.

Hip pain

Imbalance is again the culprit with hip pain, but not because of an imbalance of action. Indeed, most people have hip pain because of weakened hip extensors that they don’t exercise. Translation: All of the sitting we do leads to overstretched, weakened butts. Then, the body compensates for that weakness as we walk or run, and that’s why the pain eventually occurs.

The hamstrings along with gluteal muscles also serve as hip extensors. Thus, exercises and stretches of both muscle groups may help with hip pain.

Back pain

Keys of the physical therapy process used to fix pain
Keys of the physical therapy process used to fix pain

The first two examples may be no-brainers, but what about back pain? When walking, the back is like a ninja compared with other body parts: It flexes, extends and rotates, and during a five-mile run, it could rotate thousands of times. If there is stiffness at, say, level 1 of the spine, those thousands of rotations strain the back that many times!

Yet, if you’re having back pain find yourself using heating pads and such, the cause of your pain may be … your hips! Remember the weakened hip extensors and how the body compensates when the muscles are not pulling their weight? That compensation can be felt in the back.

As always, ask your doctor: she/he can help you rule out more serious causes of your pain and advise you on which exercises are right for you.

And of course, see a physical therapist if you find that your exercises and pain relievers are no longer working for you. (The longer you wait, the deeper the body sets into its pain pattern.) We can:

  • Find the cause of your pain and relieve it with special methods such as electrostimulation
  • Restore range of motion that the body has limited to protect itself
  • Come up with custom strengthening exercises that prevent further injury in ways generalized advice cannot

While we can’t control the weather, we can control ourselves. Everybody keep moving!

Stenosis: Know When to Get Physical Therapy

A double-knee lumbar stretch can relieve symptoms of stenosis. Contact a physical therapist when it provides no relief.

Stenosis and Its Causes

Stenosis is pain, numbness or tingling in your lower back or legs caused by the pinching of nerves in the spinal column. It occurs when the discs between vertebrae breakdown, resulting in decreased spacing between them, which pinches the nerves. It may be the caused by an injury, or it may be the result of aging, just as cartilage between other joints break down as we age. For this reason, your doctor or orthopedist may call it arthritis or degenerative disc disease.

Order of Treatment

Selecting the right treatment for the cause of your stenosis can be confusing and frustrating. There are several options to choose from. However, after treating a number of people with stenosis in DuPage county, we advocate treatment starting from the least invasive and ending with the most invasive. So the progression of treatment would look like this:

  1. Exercise
  2. Hands-on Physical Therapy
  3. Medications
  4. Injections
  5. Surgery

The idea here is to only move on to the next step after the previous treatment has failed. So don’t take medication (3) until first you have done the right exercises for stenosis (1) and hands-on therapy (2) with an expert Physical Therapist who specializes in stenosis. This model is used by the healthiest group of people in the world. A similar system was mentioned in the #1 New York Times Best Seller The 4-Hour Body.

When to Call a Physical Therapist

This progression may not be for everyone. For one thing, you may be experiencing acute pain for which medication could provide more immediate relief. However, to avoid the side effects of opioid or anticonvulsant treatments, or to avoid the risks of surgery, exercise and physical therapy are better options. Between the two, start with exercise. Complete the appropriate exercise, such as a double knee-to-chest tuck, first thing in the morning for seven days. After that time, call a therapist if one of the following applies:

  • Your pain and symptoms do not change.
  • Your pain gets worse with this exercise.
  • You feel a little better with the exercise, but the pain is still there.

Some people will heal quickly. Others will need to take it to the next step. If you fall in that category, do not hesitate to contact a physical therapist. The longer you wait, the more difficult you condition may be to treat.

Take Up Pilates for The New Year

Pilates has strength, balance, and pain management benefits. If getting in shape is your New Year’s resolution, our group Pilates classes are beginner-friendly and convenient for you , and no enrollment fee is required, unlike with other well-known gyms.

You will receive patient guidance from an experienced instructor. Sign up with a group of your friends for fun and accountability, or bring yourself and join a group/others. If you have a hectic schedule, you’re still entitled to a 10-class package (at $15-$35 per class). Keep track you using your punch card.  Sign up online, or or call us for more information: (630) 964-4008.

Susan, Dog Therapy Whisperer, at Your Service

Susan completed coursework for canine rehabilitation in December. Canine rehab practitioners are seeing their ranks swell because of the increasing demand for working dogs in many industries.

What do you do when you’ve been doing physical therapy for 30-plus years and have seen inpatient, outpatient, and all the patients there are to see? If you love dogs, you go into canine rehab. Inspired by such love, our own Susan Trchka completed coursework in canine rehabilitation in December.

She spent the first two weeks of November in Coral Springs, Fla., at the Canine Rehabilitation Institute. Although the weather was nice, Susan was quite busy with her first two classes, learning canine anatomy and hands-on examination.

When it was time to go back for her final class in December, Susan was self-deprecating, as is her custom. “I’m really looking forward to rolling around on the floor with those dogs,” she said, poking fun at her difficulty with kneeling. As there is truth in humor, so was there dedication in Susan’s heart. With her courses behind her, she must now take leave from Be Fit to start a 40-hour internship (on her own dime!) at a vet clinic. Then she will have completed her certification requirements.

The case could be made that Be Fit owner Mary Lou Savino loves dogs even more than Susan does. Mary Lou has been adopting rescue dogs for years, and she also has pursued a canine therapist certification, taking some online courses through the University of Tennessee. However, she recently took some time off from classes due to the demands of running this business.

Although there are no hard statistics for the “working dog” or the canine therapist job markets, it has been commonly reported that both are projected to grow.

The Bureau Labor Statistics projects a 10-year growth rate of 19 percent for the Veterinary Technician profession. Furthermore, people consider dogs a part of their families and expect services comparable to what’s available for people when their dogs become injured.

As demand for working dogs increases in fields such as national security, more of them will experience injuries that require physical therapy. Photo by MAJic2288

Susan, whose own Maltese-Poodle and Maltese Shi Tzu have long ago replaced her children at home, cited show and sports dogs as an example. “For people who put their dogs in shows and in competitions,” she said, “they’ll go to the ends of the earth to rehabilitate their dogs.”

Also, there has been a growth in demand for working dogs. For instance, since 9/11 the global demand for bomb detection dogs has outpaced supply.

Mary Lou may yet become one of those canine rehab practitioners that families seek. She once rehabbed her own dog and has ever since wanted to make other dogs feel better. Actually, she joked, “that’s my retirement strategy: to retire and work on dogs. I may not use it for a while, but I am a doggy person.”

Four Reasons Santa Claus Needs Physical Therapy

Exhausted Santa rubbing his backside

Legend has it that Santa Claus flies around the world on a reindeer-drawn sleigh. He steps down from the sleigh, climbs into chimneys, stuffs stockings on fireplace mantels, stoops to place gifts, slings his bag of gifts over his shoulder, climbs back up the chimney, steps up into his sleigh and flies off. Over and over again. All around the world at break-neck speed.

Santa is a busy, magical man. But a man he is. Do you think he has some occupational health issues? Like most selfless individuals, he has devoted all of his magic to making children smile and none to himself. [Sigh]

We’re going to hazard a guess at some pain that Santa is likely experiencing. Read on for an explanation, along with some strengthening/stretching exercises that may help. If they don’t, he should see his doctor or a physical therapist.

Meet Sally, Head Dachshu-huahua

sally4iMeet Sally, the newest member of our Team. Mary Lou adopted her from Lulu’s Locker Rescue in early November. Early feedback has it that Sally, a Chihuahua-Dachshund mix, is a dutiful worker. She always follows Mary Lou closely, and her skill at mauling a chew toy is refreshing to see! So while her performance is great, Sally’s interpersonal skills need improving. For one thing, she is shy but testy around hyperactive people. “This is a whole new life for her,” says Mary Lou in her defense, adding that she’s still dealing with the loss of her first mama. Sally gets along best with people, particularly women, who have doggie family members. Everyone else must be creative to get on her good side. (Treats seem to work well in that respect.)

All in all, we are so glad to have Sally on board and look forward to growing with her.