“Senior Moments”

By admin

No, not those forgetful times.  At OPT Physical Therapy our senior moments involve celebrations!  For some of our older adults, that means getting back on their skis and to the top of the mountain.  For some it means a return to tennis or golf.  For many, it means improving their quality of life so that they may enjoy time with their loved ones.  And for others, it means INDEPENDENCE.  The ability to remain active in the community and in their social lives.  The ability to live their lives on their own terms.

 

May is National Arthritis Month and Active Older Adults Month.  OPT PT is celebrating the accomplishments of our older adults and reminding everyone that age does not necessarily mean loss of function.  While we know that we lose muscle and elasticity with age, we understand that proper training can improve strength and flexibility, restoring or improving function.  Degenerative joint changes that accompany arthritis are made worse with compression.  If other joints and muscles around the body are not doing their jobs, it is common to place more stress on one that is already compromised.  So what can PT do to help?

 

There are several keys in developing a successful program for our active older adults.  The first, don’t underestimate!  We need to understand the goals of each of our clients and make those, first and foremost, the cornerstone of our program.  Just as with our younger clients, we wouldn’t train a marathon runner the same way we would a tennis player.  Each of our clients has different cardiovascular, strength, flexibility and proprioceptive needs that are based upon their unique goals.

 

Our bodies are awesome.  We can move in three planes of motion:  Forward and back, side to side, and rotation in both directions.  Most tasks utilize a combination of these movements and a program must address a client’s deficits in order to be successful.

 

A successful program needs to challenge.  Strength changes occur by the S.A.I.D Principle (Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demand).  This principle states that the muscles need to be overloaded (safely) in order to increase in their strength.  The same is true for our nervous system.  The proprioceptors (think of them as little reactors in our muscles and joints) let the body know about changes in position, tension and speed.  While many programs address strength and flexibility in our older clients, it is critical that we also focus on speed of motion.  And, speed of motion in many directions.  Think of it this way.  Let’s say we that have a client that has been suffering with knee pain for one year due to osteoarthritis.  It is a good bet that they have not been able to move very quickly for the past year, and this has turned those reactors off (or at least sent them on vacation).  Now they not only have pain, but they are at greater risk for falling because those reactors are only used to slow movements (unfortunately, we don’t fall slowly).  Challenge strength, flexibility and speed!

 

One final thought in a successful program:  HAVE FUN!  Check out our FB page all month for pictures of some of our “mature” stars!  Come and join our OPT Challenge classes.  And don’t let your senior moments be anything but extraordinary!

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