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!


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.


6 Effective Tips to Less Back Pain with Sitting

Do you have difficulty completing work due to back pain with sitting?

Does your low back pain limit your social life with things like sitting at a restaurant, driving, and sitting through a movie.

Low back pain with sitting is common with disc and muscle injury.

To get yourself feeling better, try these 6 simple tips:

  1. Use the back rest on your chair
    • Sitting up is hard! 
    • Give those muscles a rest by allowing your back to use the support of the backrest.
    • Don't sit at the front of your chair
    • Keep your chair close to what you are working on, so you can stay all the way back in the chair.
  2. Use an extra and portable back support
    • Chairs are often not designed ergonomically for ideal posture.
    • Chairs are not one size fits all! Our bodies differ wildly in shapes and sizes from one person to the next.
    • You should maintain the same amount of curve in your back while sitting that you have while standing.
    • To assist with this, I recommend some thing like the Wonder Roll, which you can find online at www.wonderroll.com. It changes support quickly and easily while being portable, yet can stays in place on your chair with a simple strap.
  3. Take frequent breaks
    • Let your body heal and get stronger, by planning and not sitting longer  that your back can tolerate. 
    • If it starts every 30 min, get up every 25 minute, etc.
  4. Make sure your hips are flexible
    • Remember the song you sang about the human body? "The back bone's connected to the hip bone, the hip bone's connected to the thigh bone..." (You get the point).
    • Stretch the back side of your hips both the muscle and joint, so your back isn't being strained.
  5. Increase the strength and endurance of your low back muscles
    • If your back muscles are tired, they will do one of two things.
      1. They will start to complain and be your source of pain.
      2. They will stop working and let you go into poor posture thus putting bad stress onto the passive structures in your back: discs, ligaments, and joints.
  6. Watch your posture
    • If you saw your posture from an outside perspective, you might be horrified!
    • Set regular reminders in your calendar and alarms on computer and phone to remind you even when caught up in tasks and projects requiring your full mental attention.
    • Give permission to those around you to remind you when you are sitting with poor posture, so you spend less time there and thus strain your disc, ligaments, and muscles less.

Thanks for reading. If we get enough interest, we will make some videos about how to sit with less back pain. Leave a comment about how it works for you and what tips you use.

Let's Get To the Source, and TOGETHER, Let's Get Moving!



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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Explain Pain - A Helpful Resource

Did you know that what you believe about pain and why you feel pain impacts your healing and health? It's true. Your understanding and beliefs can either help or hinder you!

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