physiquality blog: sarcopenia and loss of strength

I know this term more from working with physical therapists than I do by observing my own grandparents — my grandfather was lifting weights and riding his bike into his 70s, and my grandma swore by her morning walks into her 80s. But they are not only the exception, they demonstrate how exercise and activity can slow down the slippery slope of aging toward frailty discussed in this post.

Aging isn’t fun for anyone. My grandmother is 90 now and describes herself as “meaner than a junkyard dog.” She can’t hear very well, and she’s pretty much blind due to macular degeneration. But I believe she is able to take care of herself and live on her own due to the healthy life she has lived for decades, one of moderate drinking, healthy eating, and plenty of activity. If I’ve learned anything from her (aside from the value of a good looking shoe), it’s that I will be striving to do the same in order to have a better chance at being healthy when I’m her age.

Sarcopenia and loss of strength

with advice from Daniel Butler, CEP

Sarcopenia, the loss of skeletal muscle mass, is a part of what has been called “the slippery slope of aging.”

As people age, they often start to experience sarcopenia, as well as osteopenia and osteoporosis. Having weaker muscles and bones, plus the arthritis caused by years of wear and tear, can make movement more difficult and painful. The pain leads to less activity, which contributes to weaker bones and muscles, making it even more difficult to move. And so on.

Doctors and scientists are still not quite sure what causes sarcopenia, but they have linked a number of factors to its development, according to the Mayo Clinic: age-associated hormone changes, physical inactivity, inflammation, and diseases like cancer and diabetes. Because inactivity can lead to sarcopenia, doctors encourage older adults to exercise more to build muscle mass.

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physiquality blog: five ways to beat fatigue and have more energy

The holidays can be hard. Even the New York Times has acknowledged that the increased activity in December, plus the quantity of time spent with family, can lead to fatigue. And while you may want to turn to alcohol and coffee to get you through this, studies have shown that both can actually make you feel more tired. Which will not help you when you’re stuck in a corner with Cousin Al.

So if you’re looking for ways to gain more energy for your upcoming holiday calendar, take a look at what I’ve put together at the pqBlog.

Five ways to beat fatigue and have more energy

Winter is coming. As December begins, so does the holiday whirl. Office parties. Family get-togethers. Late nights spent trying to put together toys that have instructions written in a foreign language.

It can be easy to get overwhelmed, and feeling tired will make it more difficult to get through the month. So here are five ways to beat some of that fatigue, giving you more energy to face whatever is on your calendar.

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physiquality blog: fueling your workout

The balance of nutrition and exercise is always difficult as it depends on a variety of factors. Height. Weight. Gender. Fitness level. Length of activity. And so on.

But I do think there are some misperceptions about the ability to eat more food or less healthy food if one is working out regularly. (Kind of like the saying that “eating for two” while pregnant gives women carte blanche to eat whatever they want. Only if they want to live on a treadmill while breastfeeding after the baby comes.)

This is especially true if one’s goal is to lose weight — it is nearly impossible to lose weight through exercise alone. As someone who has been struggling to lose weight for several years now, this post speaks to me personally. Perhaps it is time to practice what I write.

Fueling your workout

with advice from Angela Mader
and AlterG

You’ve made a commitment to get healthy and lose weight.


You’ve trimmed unhealthy foods that have lots of sugar and trans fats from your diet and added in more fruits and vegetables, and you’re doing 150 minutes of moderate exercise every week, but you’re not seeing any weight loss.

Not so great.

Angela Mader, the creator of the fitbook™ (a Physiquality partner program), recommends taking a look at what you’re eating before workouts to make sure that you’re eating the best foods to energize you and maximize your results. As she explains it, “food is fuel. It might be time to take a look under the hood to make sure you’re properly fueling (and re-fueling) your body to optimize burning fat while gaining lean muscle.”

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physiquality blog: consider getting wet to get better.

While I’ve never had the opportunity to do aquatic therapy, it makes sense to me. Strengthening in the water, as compared to land, would help when you’re transitioning from non-weight-bearing status to using a leg again, for example. Or if your balance is poor. I’m always amazed with how our member clinics use innovative ways to help their patients get better.

What are the benefits of aquatic physical therapy?
Consider getting wet in order to get better.

with advice from Kelly Lenz, PT
and Blair J. Packard, PT, MS

When most people think of physical therapy, they probably think of treadmills and stationary bikes, hand weights and elastic bands — plus the medical tables on which patients can be treated. Without getting wet.

So why might aquatic physical therapy be just as beneficial, or even better?

“Aquatic therapy allows a gravity-reduced environment in which to exercise,” explains Kelly Lenz, a physical therapist and co-owner of Clinton Physical Therapy Center, a Physiquality network clinic in Tennessee. “This allows a variety of patients to move more freely without undue stress on their body.”

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physiquality blog: how to play hockey safely

The title of this month’s blog post may sound like an oxymoron, but it is possible to reduce injuries in hockey, the only sport where some players still fight to play without a helmet. Smart players and athletes know that it is better to think about your body for the long term, and making sure to wear appropriate gear and include the proper strengthening in one’s regimen are easy ways to reduce the chances of injury in a sport where, eventually, one hopes that players won’t trumpet a lack of teeth as something to brag about.

How to play hockey safely

with advice from Mark Salandra, CSCS

Hockey may not initially inspire thoughts of the world’s safest sport. With a reputation for brawls on the ice and toothless grins, parents may be understandably cautious about signing up their kids for the community hockey league.

However, with the proper precautions (and protective gear), the game can be played safely while those on the ice reduce their chance of injury.

Hockey is a unique sport, says Mark Salandra, a certified strength and conditioning specialist and the founder of (a Physiquality partner program). “It incorporates speed, agility and strength in ways that no other sport tests the body,” he explains. As with any sport, injuries can be caused by a variety of factors, including the level of participation, player position, protective equipment, violent behavior, and personal susceptibility due to pre-existing injuries and style of play.

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physiquality blog: running away from injury

I might have mentioned before… I’m not a runner. Even when I’m being chased. It’s just not my thing — I’m too accident- and injury-prone to consider it.

But if you do run, there are many way to reduce your chance of injury. Our experts had several important points about what to do before, during and after you run to make sure you return to your house injury-free.

Running away from injury

with advice from Lori Francoeur, PT, MSPT, CSCS,
Jeff Rothstein, MS, CSCS, TSAC-F, CES, USAW and Polar

Running is a common way to stay fit — in theory, all you require is a good pair of running shoes. But running can also lead to a variety of injuries. Our experts talked to us about the most common running injuries and how to avoid them.

According to Jeff Rothstein, the Director of Sports Enhancement for the PT Center for Sports Medicine, a Physiquality clinic in Akron, Ohio, the most common running injuries are to the foot, knee and back. Jeff notes that having the right running shoes is essential for avoiding injury.

Lori Francoeur, a physical therapist at Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy Center in Arizona, agrees. She explains that runners should wear a “good supportive shoe that will provide adequate support and cushioning for your arch and heel.”

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physiquality blog: working out while on the road

While meant to be a break from your regular routine, travel can sometimes add stress to it instead. If you’ve finally gotten into a daily or weekly workout regimen, or started losing weight after months of gaining, you don’t want to lose that momentum during summer vacation.

I have found that when I’ve been able to work out while traveling, I’ve become more relaxed. If the point of vacation is to make time for yourself and your family, shouldn’t part of that be focusing on your better health? We spoke to some members and partner vendors who had some great tips for ensuring that your fitness isn’t forgotten, wherever you go.

Working out while on the road

with advice from Richard Baudry, PT, DPT, OCS,
Yousef Ghandour, PT, MOMT, FAAOMPT, and Brian Klaus

With Memorial Day behind us and Independence Day quickly approaching, many of us have plans to travel in the next couple of months. If you’ve been trying to stick to an exercise regimen, here are some ideas for how to continue working out when you leave your regular routine behind.

“Exercise that doesn’t require bulky equipment or a lot of space is best while traveling,” advises Brian Klaus, the Vice President of Stretchwell, Inc. (a PTPN preferred vendor that offers a variety of progressive resistance products). Why take up space in your luggage with heavy weights or bulky equipment?

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physiquality blog: can physical therapy help with infertility?

Infertility is one of the most personal problems a woman can have. Once a couple has decided they are ready to take the leap and become parents, and then have months and perhaps years without a pregnancy, it can be demoralizing.

After a series of knee surgeries in my early 30s, my husband and I decided to take the leap. I went off birth control. Started tracking my ovulation with compulsive fervor. And nothing. Had some tests. And some more tests. And nothing. It took two and a half years of testing and treatments that led to our beautiful son, thankfully without the trials (and expense) of IVF.

I don’t know that the manual therapy I wrote about for this post would be applicable to the reasons I had problems conceiving. But I will tell you that the more options presented to a woman trying to conceive, the more she will consider.

Can physical therapy help with infertility?

Infertility is a challenge for many families. There are a variety of reasons a woman might have problems conceiving, and many ways to face those challenges to increase the likelihood of becoming pregnant. Physical therapy has been shown to be one way to increase the possibility of pregnancy.

As we’ve mentioned in the past, some physical therapists choose to specialize in women’s health. These therapists help women cope with a variety of feminine conditions, ranging from incontinence to postpartum pain. The treatments can include myriad types of therapy, including manual therapy.

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physiquality blog: sitting pretty — proper sitting posture

As a writer, I’m at my desk most of the day. I’ve done my best to maximize the space — the ergonomic chair with back support, a place to support my legs when my knees get tired. But I still have back aches from time to time, particularly on days I’ve worked away at a project for a few hours straight. Putting together pieces like this remind me that I need to pay attention to my posture daily if I want to be able to relax at night.

Sitting pretty: Proper sitting posture

with advice from Richard Baudry, PT, DPT, OCS
and Dandelion Dreams, Inc.

Most of us spend more time at the office than we do at home, which is why it’s so important to consider how our behavior at the office can affect how we feel at home. If you sit at your computer for several hours each day, are you sitting pretty?

Before you look at yourself in the mirror, reflect on your desk and workspace. Specifically, says Alan Zovar, a physical therapist that works at Dandelion Dreams, Inc., (a Physiquality partner), you should think about the angles in your body as they interact with your desk. Your eyes should be approximately 18 inches away from your computer screen, he says, and they should align with the middle of the screen, to avoid looking down or up too much, which could cause neck strain in the long run. In the same manner, your chair should be centered with the monitor to minimize twisting the head in order to see the screen.

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physiquality blog: how does physical therapy help after a cast comes off?

Despite my many injuries, I have been fortunate in that I have never had to wear a cast. (Immobilizer, yes; cast, no.) I don’t envy those that have had to wear one. I’ve heard they are itchy, and that your skin gets quite papery while encased in plaster.

While I’ve never had to adapt the movement of my arms every much, I do know what it’s like to go for weeks at a time without putting any weight on your leg. Your calf muscles will atrophy, and even driving can be a strain due to the loss of strength. Working with a physical therapist, both as the cast is placed and particularly after it comes off, can be a big help when recuperating and returning to your daily activity.

How does physical therapy help after a cast comes off?

The adult human body is made up of 206 bones. (We’re born with 270, but over time, as we grow, some fuse to give us 206 around the time we turn 30.) Unfortunately, many of those can break or fracture, leading to a cast in order to heal. So what happens after the cast is removed? What is necessary in order to return to normal activity?

A variety of factors will affect the length of time needed to heal, as well as how physical therapy will help you regain your pre-injury range of motion and level of activity.

The American Physical Therapy Association, or APTA, points out that there are several levels of bone fractures. The simplest is defined as a non-displaced fracture. This means that the bone may be broken, but the pieces are still properly aligned within the body.

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