My ophthalmologist and I don't see eye-to-eye on this
I have cataracts in both eyes, and as they have grown worse, I notice a touch of imbalance has come into my life.
I asked my GP if there was any association between the two. He said no. I asked my ophthalmologist also. He said no.
I say yes.
Your tendons help your brain understand how to balance
We rarely hear of the need to keep our tendons healthy. But we know that our balance gets worse as we age. The things we need to do to keep our tendons healthy also help us better sense the position and movement of our joints.
As we age, our ability to sense the position and movement of our joints degrades, even in very active older people. This loss is more severe in inactive people and leads to a less stable gait and more falls.
This is why it helps to think of regular daily exercise as a means of living longer better by avoiding falls - and also looking better longer with an upright posture. Your aim is not to build muscles and exhaust yourself; it is to improve your balance. In doing that, you'll need to build more muscle, but that outcome is a side-effect.
The best program to combat loss of balance is a combination of aerobic, balance and strength exercises. This combination keeps our tendons healthy, as well as our ligaments and muscles.
Reducing inflammation eases pain gets you mobile again
About three weeks ago, my shoulder suddenly locked up while I was brushing my hair. I was tremendously painful, so I researched all the ways that I might get it moving again. One way that was new to me was Red Light Therapy.
It seems to have helped a lot. It might help you if you have inflamed or injured muscles, tendons or joints - here's what I found out.
I never thought that it would happen to me
Suddenly your shoulder clicks and you are in a land of pain whenever you move out of a minimal range of motion with your arm. I know. It happened to me. I was doing nothing more than brushing my hair.
As President Trump would say, it's a horrible thing. Movements which were previously unconscious and innocuous suddenly produce shrieking bone pain which can start in your lower arm and run up to your shoulder. (Ah! I just had a twitch then!)
Shoulder pain or tightness is common, affecting 18 to 26 per cent of adults. And frozen shoulder - the most severe impingement - is estimated to affect 2%–5% of the general population, and can be significantly painful and disabling.
To be honest, I did not see myself as a likely candidate for shoulder impingement.
I replaced three warm-up movements with this one
I'm a stickler for warming up - I never miss. But I begrudge the time it takes. This one dynamic stretch saves me time and is more effective - that makes me feel better right from the start.
Whether I'm running, or in pre-COVID times when I used to go to the gym, I always warm-up. It takes me about 10 minutes before running, and 15 minutes before gym work. I believe that warming-up and warming-down helps keep me injury free.
Over 20+ years, I rarely see people warm-up outside of a class. That's because it's a bit boring.
Ideally, we want to eliminate those warm-up movements of little benefit and reduce the time needed. This dynamic stretch does that. It cut about two minutes from my warm-up time.
Think of your brain, balance and longevity
Around my local suburbs, I have never seen so many people regularly walking for their health. There were always the genteel walkers. But now, with the pandemic and gyms closed, there is a new breed on the paths and tracks.
I'm pleased to observe that they mostly are not "serious" walkers, those with intent looks and machine-driven arms. Although the majority are not so intense, they are satisfyingly consistent and purposeful. I'm one of those - I walk 5km at least once every day, and I've added in walking backwards.
With a single tweak, these regular-walking folk can significantly improve the health and longevity benefits from their activity.
Have fun retraining your brain to fix your sore knees
Walking better will give you a better posture, a visceral pleasure in propelling your body forward and may help you live longer. And you won't even have to look like a serious walker.
Even better, it will rebalance your body and ease some of your pains, especially if you have been using treadmills too much.
Felt that slight drift when you walk? Don’t let it get worse
As we age there are two creeping disabilities that have catastrophic consequences, yet can often be dramatically slowed with a little effort. The first one is the loss of balance, and the second is loss of the strength to get up off the floor.
And, of course, the two are related. If you fall from poor balance and cannot get up off the floor, then you could be in dire trouble.
If you suffer from no complicating factors, then here are two simple at-home exercises you can do to improve your balance, and your skeletal muscle strength.
Walking more? Healthy ankles take the stress off your knees
During the lockdown, we are allowed (in Australia) to leave our homes for exercise - alone or with one other person. There are many more people walking now than before the lockdown, which is good to see.
As we walk more often and become more ambitious to walk longer distances, it is sensible to pay attention to our foot health.
Conversely, imagine if you injured a foot while walking - you would be deprived of the pleasure and relief of being able to get out of the house each day for exercise.
Although we know that maintaining the flexibility of our feet reduces the chance of injury, we rarely attend to it.
It will only add 2 minutes
At-home workouts often lack a good pull exercise. People, in general, don't do enough pulling movements, even when the gym is open.
There are two I recommend. Add these to your routine as otherwise, you'll not be getting the total body benefits you need during #StayAtHome.
When the gym was open, I always rowed every session and did other pull exercises such as rope pulls and cable pulls. I don't have that access now.
Since I was diagnosed at 50 with Type 2 diabetes I've been learning how to do bone-building fitness training which lowers my age. You can too. It's your choice. Walter