One of the common issues I notice in client assessments is related to their walking gait. The commonly accepted proper walking technique is to hold the chin parallel to the ground, looking straight ahead, with shoulders rounded forward slightly, alternately swinging one arm forward and other arm back, rolling heel-to-toe on each step. Each step should be far enough to plant upon the front half of the heel while rolling onto the ball of the foot as it progresses behind you. The arm should pull the elbow behind you for each swing, and be opposite the leg that is extending in front of the body.
A recent Johns Hopkins study of adolescents’ daily physical activity has led to the conclusion that they have comparable activity levels to 60 year olds. Participants were given devices to track their activity. Their peak activity times (2:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.) registered very low results. Activity in the study didn’t see an increase until participants were in their 20s. Organizations like the World Health Organization are now looking to create a policy that addresses this sedentary trend.
I’ve just opened the door to a whole new world. As I step inside the float tank, I feel a roller coaster thrill; I’m about to experience something both awesome and completely out of my control. When you enter the float tank, you’re struck by how dark and quiet everything feels.
JScreen will be running an onsite screening at Sixth and I Synagogue on July 14 from 5:30-7:15 p.m.
JScreen, the leader in at-home genetic screening for people of Jewish descent, today announced that it increased its testing panel from 100 to more than 200 disease genes that could affect a couple’s future children. JScreen is based in Emory University School of Medicine’s Department of Human Genetics and provides convenient, affordable access to help singles and couples throughout the United States plan for healthy families.
Warmer weather means more opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. I personally enjoy hiking long distances to take in the sights and enjoy nature. It’s important to be in good physical health to walk long distances and climb to higher elevations. A fast-paced walk can elevate your heart rate about 50-60 percent and burn a couple hundred calories. Being prepared can avoid some of the un-pleasantries of hiking, such as sore knees and thighs, foot and ankle injuries, heat exhaustion, and that cranky feeling of being in the sun too long.
Aging is a wonderful and unique path each of us follows. There is no perfect scenario for any one of us; in fact, there are times when things seem off track. Off track means we can get back on track — different does not mean disaster. We can help our loved ones continue on their path of positive aging if we know what to look for.
“I was the last person the family wanted to see,” a veteran Washington, D.C., hospital chaplain, Father Alexander*, confided to me several years ago. He recalled how, early in his career, he gently approached a Jewish patient’s room ready to be a comforting presence but was met by a cold stare from the patient’s family.
Ah summer! Although for a while we seemed to be getting a late start this year, the summer sun finally has arrived. No sooner than we finish complaining about the cold start to the season, we will have the opportunity to bemoan the heat and humidity.
The most common reason people seek a psychotherapist or clinical social worker is to “fix” their problems — a few meetings with an expert, and their problems will be solved, they think. Nothing is further from the truth when it comes to psychotherapy. The job of a good psychotherapist is to understand one’s clients and point out areas in which they can become more self-aware, and hopefully this leads them to make internal changes.
Some daily habits can contribute to discomfort along the low back close to the hips, along the outside of the leg at the point where the leg meets the hip, or the inside of the thigh. This can result from sitting in a chair or lying in bed. The spine naturally curves inward slightly at two points: at the neck and at low back. The position of the hip can affect the natural curve of the lower back; if the hip is tilted or turned out of its neutral position for an extended period, it can overload other muscles to compensate for the instability.
One example of this process is sitting in a chair that positions one’s hips lower than one’s knees. This position causes some of the muscles that attach to or cross the hip to shorten and tighten in order to stabilize the upper body as the hips rotate forward.
Pictured are stabilizing muscles that attach to the low back, hip, and leg. If you rotate the leg bone forward, all of the muscles shown will shorten. If the hips turn forward, then the weight of the upper body goes into the lower vertebrae near the psoas major muscle. In order to keep the torso upright, the psoas major has to pull onto the spine while hanging on to the femur (the leg bone where the psoas major turns white). That can create discomfort in the psoas. (To feel for yourself how challenging it is to hold up the torso with those muscles, try doing sit ups on a decline bench.)
Another example of hip position creating problems is a lack of support when sleeping. Not enough support when sleeping on your back can cause those muscles around the hip to lengthen for an extended period of time. The longer the muscles are stretched and lengthened, the weaker they become. It is challenging for them to return to their neutral position, and this can cause the hips to rotate back, contracting the lower back muscles for a long period of time and putting pressure on the vertebrae themselves. It will make it more difficult to get out of bed in the morning, and to start moving around.
By Justin Walls
Justin Walls is a certified personal trainer (American College of Sports Medicine), specializing in youth fitness, senior fitness, myofascial release techniques, joint pain/arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, aqua fitness, running, and walking. He also has expertise in lifestyle/health management and meal planning, and a background in psychology. Learn more at justinwallsfitness.com.
I recently had the experience of treating someone who, for the last year, has been undergoing tremendous emotional trauma. In addition, in recent weeks this same person was required to do physical labor that was beyond the individual’s capability. By the time this person was able to come into my office, walking was difficult, climbing stairs was nearly impossible, and the person’s whole body was in pain.
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