Don't Be An Ageist!

Being an ageist, it's not cool, right? The first step to not being an ageist is to examine how you view yourself. I think ageism is quite common in US society. People are often self-limiting in what they pursue and what they routinely do simply because of the number of years under their belts. It's likely that if it's not something you actively think about or have noted in society, that it is present in your life.

Our society gives us this imprint and expectation of behavior that we tend to fall in line with and don't question. Questioning, by the way, is something we can do in our minds or with our actions. I've observed that in the US getting older means that hanging out with friends no longer means going to the park, or running around the block, or going on a bike or skateboard adventure, climbing a tree, or building a fort like it did during our youth. It means things like getting coffee, going out to eat, and watching TV or a movie, or sitting at a concert. Our communal time becomes less active and increasingly sedentary.

Also the types of movements we do become less and less playful, more rigid and predictable, less demanding of balance and coordination, and overall slower and slower.  Physically it means that our body is less adaptable to face the challenges of the world whether that's moving quickly to catch something that's dropping or falling, running across the street to get out of the way of a car or get a child out of the way of a car, catching ourselves from a slip and trying to prevent a fall, impaired balance and coordination, and later in life as a senior reaching for high objects off the shelf, lifting something overhead, getting out of bed or off the floor. Yes! I’m not exaggerating - a lot of the problems I see in older patients comes from this ageist attitude and habits. Our body responds to what we do, so less and less activity means more and more limitation. I see this behavior in younger patients, even though the habits often haven’t yet caught up with them, but sometimes it has, well before they are a senior. It makes me sad. But it’s also something we can change!

Our body thrives with variety. These good bits of stress, allow our body to make adaptations - adaptations such as quicker reflexes, better movement patterns, better proprioception which is knowing where your body is in space. As a result, our tendons and muscles are stronger in more varied positions and speeds. This is important because, injuries in daily life usually occur at higher rates of speed, so integrating faster movements into our regular life and training (once we have good movement patterns established at lower speeds), decreases this likelihood of injury in our everyday lives.

Ageism has negative consequences for us not only physically, but also emotionally and mentally. Mentally it's limiting because we've decided certain things aren't for us because of our age. We've decided that's for young people, we're too old for that, we'd be too silly or look too silly, we wouldn't do well at it. So we do less. How we live part of our life is how we live our whole life. If we limit ourselves physically, we are doing it mentally, and emotionally. We are not challenging ourselves.

Emotionally we miss out as well when we don't have playful movement such as dancing, or roller skating, or playing tag, games, or wrestling with children or grandkids. Brene Brown, a social worker and vulnerability/shamre researcher, can tell you more about this in her book, "The Gifts of Imperfection." In her 10 Guideposts to living whole-heartedly, a.k.a happily, (based on her research), you will find play as one of the required components to living this better life. You can also learn more about her research in her TED talks and now on her Netflix special.

Are you an ageist? Are you limiting yourself simply because of your age and what folks around you are doing? I don't want to be an ageist, not of my patients and my clients, nor of myself. This starts with how I view myself. In order to do this, I need to not view myself through an ageist perspective. What are some things that I do to combat this? I skateboard from my car to my classes as a graduate school instructor at USC. This alone makes me feel ~20 years younger. I snowboard. I adventure and play in the mountains doing things that get me dirty, require me to adapt to the environment, expose me to weather and natural elements, and make me work different every time. I climb, run, and mountain bike in the mountains.

One of the most recent areas of growth for me in this area has been incorporating a discipline of regular dance in my life. This is not choreographed, group movement. I throw myself regular dance parties, often in my living room, or the living rooms of friends. The music goes on and I let my body be creative and explore in response to the beat, the melody, the lyrics. It's been so fun, freeing, and even healing for me. I feel the change in my body, my mind, my emotions, and even my spirit. Every know and then if you follow me on social media, I share some of this dancing, because I want to break down these ageist walls we've built up or allowed to be built up around us, that keep us imprisoned in this limited mindset and perpetuates this negative belief in society.

I started this simply. It didn’t require any additional equipment. Just a little bit of space, my phone, and a song that I can move to. Early on it was simply one song after a work day. Often times I’d find myself feeling better and playing more songs. Now I have a “Daily Dance Party” playlist I’ve created on my phone. I’ll put it on shuffle and have built up to 20 minutes that I incorporate into my 20 minute of daily cardio. This has been so good for my mood and outlook and incorporates unpredictable, varied movements, balance, coordination to balance out things that are more predictable - running, swimming, biking for cardio.

What steps can you take to be less of an ageist? Remember it starts in your own life and how you're limiting yourself. As you try more activity, be wise - start slowly, give your body time to adapt, and get help (perhaps PT) if you need to get some basic, foundational movement - strength, coordination, mobility - down.

Together, Let’s Get Moving!


Headstands & Handstands - April Daily Fitness Challenge

Routines are good for our life, and are healthy. But our body and our mind also thrives with some variety. Neuroplasticity is a concept in phenomenon increasingly studied the demonstrates how the brain is always changing. It changes for the Better or For Worse depending on the inputs that we put in.

The daily fitness challenge that I have been taking part in since October is a mix of both these. There has been the daily routine of consistently challenging the body, but also variety as how the body is challenged each day varies and also there has been a different theme each month - running, abdominal and core strengthening, hip and shoulder stability, pull-ups, and this month is something else.

So trying new things is good for the muscles and the joints, ligaments and tendons, but also for the mind and the spirit. At the beginning of this year I set out an overall theme for the year. This year I'm focusing on theme of produce, which basically means working on moving forward and creating, without too much of the limiting mindset that can stop you from creating and participating and sharing. So I brainstormed what are some things that I might like to learn this year and some challenges I'd like to take on. Enter headstands and handstands. I haven't given them much thought before and I've never tried to do them. But I thought why not try and learn this new skill and just see how I do.

Liz's baseline attempts at headstand with her watchful assistant and spotter.

Liz's baseline attempts at headstand with her watchful assistant and spotter.

Trying a new physical skill might mean some preparation is needed in order to do this healthily. Thankfully as a physical therapist, I have good insight into the strength needed and the flexibility needed to be able to put weight through my shoulders.

In trying this new skill I'm excited for the new opportunities that this presents for my body to grow, and strengthen, and learn new balance and ways to control itself. Some of my Approach will involve trying the overall skill, but I will also break it down into small parts to allow my body to have the best chance for success. I look forward to learning from others who are skilled in the area of handstands and headstands and learning some techniques. I plan to try some of the techniques described in this well done instructional video from the UK.

This month a focus on headstands and handstands I hope to be fun as I learn a new skill that I'm not good at. But I also know this will be a good compliment two activities that I like to do that strengthen my body in the other direction, namely, climbing and swimming. Both climbing and swimming are pulling motions and really activate muscles such as the latissimus dorsi and teres major which pull your arm down into more of a handcuff position. Pressing away in pressing overhead will be new challenges for me that have been overlooked and are often overlooked in rock climbers and swimmers, including triathletes, and lead to muscle imbalances, which put increasing strain on joints, tendons, ligaments, and muscles. The strain overtime can lead to pain and dysfunction and difficulty doing the activities we love.

I'll be posting videos primarily on Instagram so follow us there @artisanphysical, but also intermittently on Facebook and here on the blog.

Want to join in on this challenge? I'd love to have you join in and share your successes and challenges. Arr you going to try a different daily fitness challenge? I'd love to hear about that too. Have ideas and suggestions for Liz's next daily fitness challenge? I'd love to hear that too.

Let's get to the source, AND TOGETHER, let's get moving!


March Daily Fitness Challenge - Hip & Shoulder Stability

I'm pleased to say that the daily fitness challenge that began in October of last year has continued, with a different theme every month. So far we have attempted daily running, seven minute workout, pull-Ups, 8 minute abs, and now.... drum roll please...

BOSU overhead ball toss.jpg

This challenge this month, as the title of the blog post indicates, is hip and shoulder stability. I'm excited about this month because they are very important and foundational to so many activities and preventing injury as well as rehabilitating injuries. I've had my fair share of injuries over the years and they have left they're mark. Now if I had been better about doing all my rehabilitation exercises for these various injuries, I don't think I'd be in the same place. I'm excited of the possibility that the asymmetries I have from side-to-side could diminish, and even, completely resolve!

 Doing all the exercises that your body needs is a lot of work. Can I get an amen? It takes a lot of time, a lot of motivation, and a lot of knowledge. I have the knowledge and a good bit of motivation, but not always enough time in the day. Anyone else have a hard time finding enough time in the day? These monthly-themed daily exercises that I'm exploring are an avenue for me to rotate throughout the body and pay attention to each area and hopefully be better off than the intermittent and sporadic exercise provided otherwise.

Unstable hips or, in other words, hips that lack the strength, endurance, and coordination to control themselves in space, can lead to problems from the low back all the way down to the big toe. Yes, even the big toe! You think you inherited that bunion from your family? Where you born with it? Is it rather from how you've moved and used your body over time? Let's take a look at your hip stability and then let's talk about it.

Knee injuries ranging from patellofemoral pain, runner's knee, ACL tears, meniscal injuries can all arise from a lack of hip stability. Lack of hip strength and control or endurance can also lead to ankle injuries such a sprained ankles and fractures and down the chain into the foot with overpronation, plantar fasciitis, shin splints, or achilles or posterior tibialis tendonitis or tendinopathy.

Shoulder stability is also really important and isn't straightforward. Think of all the motions that your shoulder can do and that is a sign that keeping it healthy will similarly take a lot of work. The shoulder joint or complex is actually made up of four joints: 

  • Glenohumeral joint
  • Scapulothoracic joint
  • Acromioclavicular joint
  • Sternoclavicular joint

All of these are controlled by muscle. So once again the strength, the endurance, and the coordination of these muscles results in the control surrounding those joints. In terms of stability, the most important muscles are the rotator cuff and scapular muscles. You can think of your shoulder blade, or scapula, as the foundation of your shoulder. If the foundation is crooked or unstable, this has consequences for the areas attached to it.

As I work on shoulder stability this month, I am emphasizing the rotator cuff - all four of the rotator cuff muscles - and the scapula thoracic muscles - think rhomboids, trapezius, serratus anterior - as well as the scapulohumeral muscles. If these muscles are strong, can work for long periods of time, and can turn on and off at the right time, there should not be clicking in my shoulder with movement, nor am I very likely to injure myself. Bear in mind that as I strengthen these muscles, I will also need to stretch them because strengthening increases the tone of the muscles and often the stiffness of the muscles and sometimes shortens the length of the muscles. And tight muscles can lead to injury and dysfunction.


Because it is unwise to strengthen the exact same area day after day, I will alternate between hip stability and shoulder stability, doing one one day and the next the other day. Want to learn a great routine to do for these areas, reach out and we can schedule either a visit or a remote consultation for you fitness, wellness and health goals.


Stay tuned for April's daily fitness challenge of headstands and handstands...

Let's Get to the Source - and TOGETHER - Let's Get Moving


Give Swimming a Try!

I was never a "water baby" - that is - I was never a kid that jumped into water whenever I saw it. I only wanted to get wet if I was dirty, sweaty, or super hot. This followed me into adulthood, so choosing swimming as a workout was not something that happened for me. That is until I was forced to. By age twenty I had injured my knee significantly twice. These ACL knee injuries (anterior cruciate ligament) had ended my soccer career prematurely. I had to wait a few months for ACL surgery, but wanted to stay active, so I did early morning walks with arm motions to get a whole body workout and I started swimming. 

I hated swimming. I hated it as I packed my swimsuit & towel, traveled to the pool, dressed, walked onto the pool deck, jumped in, and swam the first lap.  Do you see the trend? I hated it. But by the second lap it wasn't so bad. It was a quick and very intense workout for me. 20 minutes and I felt like jelly afterwards. All without any impact or pain to my knees! The workout was, in fact, so difficult for me that my cheeks tingled afterwards. Anyone else? Probably not. 

Flash forward to over a decade later and swimming is high up there on the things that I really miss about LA. Swimming laps outside midday on a sunny day is one of the most meditative and mind clearing experience I have. I get a whole body, no impact workout to balance out my running, hiking, biking leg workouts with inclusion of arm and abdominal conditioning and my mind gets to wonder through future ideas and possibilities as well as reflecting back on experiences and relationships. Oh and my cheeks don't tingle anymore.

So give swimming a try! 

Want to make sure you're healthy while swimming? Wonder what swim strokes are right for you? Wonder if you're stroke technique could lead to an injury? Wonder how much to do? Necessary stretches and strengthening? Let's chat. (Also possible future blog post topic - what do you think?)

Already swim? Where is your favorite place to swim?

Together - Let's Get Moving.


Quick Yoga Sequence for Runners: Stretching with Some Core

New video out!

In this video, Doctor Elizabeth (Liz) Bottrell PT, DPT, FAAOMPT of Artisan Physical Therapy in Los Angeles, CA demonstrates a quick and effective yoga sequence for runners. Whether running your first 5k, training for a marathon, triathlon, or an ultra, you need to stretch. Stretching takes time and knowledge. In this video, you'll learn a quick vinyasana or flow yoga sequence that efficiently stretches your hamstrings, calves (gastrocnemius & soles), and hip flexors (Iliotibial band and iliopsoas) to maximize your time, as well as incorporating abdominal strengthening and control and cross training strengthening for the pectoral muscles and triceps. This fast routine, also trains balance, breathing, and improves motion in your back and abdominal muscles!

You can repeat and hold longer as needed. Do not hold your breath!

Pay attention in the video because you need to make sure you know which muscles to stretch. Follow-up videos will show specifics for a few other essential muscle groups for runners to stretch.

Try it and let us know what you think.

Do you say sorry too often?

I came across this blog post via some friends on Facebook. It's specifically from the perspective of a mountain biker, but it's a good universal principle and good attitude shift towards appreciation versus self deprecation. This switch could make a big change in your physical fitness and health goals and even throughout your life. The jist? Don't apologize for being slow, instead thank your companions for their patience.

Race Goal for the Year

My first blog post of the year highlighted some of the goals I had for the year. How are your goals coming along? Typing this question, alone, is making me want to stop and go back to recheck on all my goals and see what progress I'm making & if I'm forgetting anything!

The goal on the forefront of my mind currently is my goal to train and participate in a race this year. I'm so pleased to report I reached a milestone! I signed up! "What race?" you ask. Well, I am opting for a triathlon - the Nautica Malibu International Distance Triathlon - to be precise. Now I'm excited and nervous. I got a lot to learn about ocean swimming and I've got some training to do to hopefully "race" it.

What do I mean by "race" it? It has to do with your fitness level. I am fit right now in terms of overall health and wellness in disease reduction activity lifestyles and with respect to my body weight and composition. I could participate in the triathlon event and complete it, possibly even this week, but it wouldn't feel good. I want not to simply finish it - although I think it is a great feat. I want to prepare, train, and give it my all - to go fast - that is, to "race" it. Let's be clear when I say race or fast, I mean my fast (not going to be winning any races here)!!

I'd love to hear about what your training for in life, how you're learning to persevere and be disciplined, and elevate what you think you're capable of. For me this all fits into the bigger picture of learning to live more WHOLE-HEARTED (my theme for the year) and even helping people living healthier, more satisfying lives with my work at Artisan Physical Therapy. Also let me know what training questions you have!

Together - Let's Get Moving!


Liz Bottrell - Artisan Physical Therapy - biking

New Years Goals

Do you have any new years goals? Some call them resolutions, but others of us are put off by that term. Goals, however! Those are worth having! Still others, including myself, select a theme for the year.

My theme for the year is: whole-hearted.

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