We live in a world where we want quick fixes and the easiest way to achieve what we need. This may look like taking a pain masking medication, a blood pressure or cholesterol lowering drug, a miracle diet or the most fashionable piece of exercise equipment that will basically do it for you. The fact of the matter is that these things may not always give the best response just because they are the easiest. What we do know is the proven physiological and psychological benefits to movement.
Let’s break down a few common conditions and look at the benefits of movement for each.
A leading cause of pain and disability, arthritis and rheumatic disease can affect multiple joints breaking down the cartilage, therefore losing the joints ability to move smoothly. Most commonly affecting knees, hips, the spine as well as hands and feet. Gentle and progressive movement has been shown to reduce pain, and maintain muscle strength around affected joints. It also helps in reducing joint stiffness and improving overall quality of life. There’s evidence to shown that movement is as effective in relieving symptoms as pain medication and anti-inflammatories (with fewer side-effects too).
Lower back pain
Common in all age groups and populations, low back pain has been a chronic health condition affecting almost all of us at some stage in our lives. Although the pain can be severe, it’s often not caused by a serious problem and can be resolved with some gentle and targeted care. You should seek help from a health care practitioner if your back pain is as a result of a traumatic event, wakes you during the night, does not reduce in pain or change over the course of the day, has an effect on your bowel or bladder control, or is accompanied by altered sensation including tingling or pin’s and needles in your lower body or limbs.
Also known as persistent pain, is what we consider pain to be once it has persisted beyond the expected time of healing following an injury. This could be following an initial traumatic event, but usually means that the sensitivity of the nervous system has been affected. This is a tough condition to return to movement with, in an attempt to avoid “flare ups”, but it has been shown repeatedly that people experiencing chronic pain can reverse the downward cycle of de-conditioning and worsening pain. This in turn leads to an increase of activities of daily living with greater ease, promoting a better quality of life and enjoyment. It is very important to not do too much too soon with this condition, and best managed with the help of an Exercise Physiologist or Pain Specialist to avoid the risk of “boom-bust”.
Covering both Type 1 and Type 2 of the metabolic condition diabetes, movement has a mix of benefits for both. To clarify, T1DM is an insulin injected controlled condition, following the progressive assault of the body’s immune system on the insulin producing cells of the pancreas. T2DM is the more common form of diabetes, and also the more avoidable. A combination of genetic and environmental factors leads to the body’s cells not responding effectively to insulin released by the pancreas, and so a less effective take up of glucose from food for energy, building up in the blood stream. Whilst an improved condition through movement cannot reverse the damage to the cells, it can play a huge part in the way muscles respond to insulin, helping to regulate blood glucose for some hours following specific activity. There are a number of important factors to consider when completing targeted movement for diabetes, including time of day, blood glucose levels before and following, as well as other conditions such as peripheral neuropathies.
As important as it is for us to feel safe when moving, an ageing population could be ageing faster with the use of equipment to prevent falls, rather than identifying the root cause in age related loss of muscle mass. Over the age of 65 shows a rapid decline in muscle mass and rapid increase fall rates. It is important to keep in mind that every condition is specific, and gait aids are there for support. If you think you are beginning to rely on bench tops and rails more than you used to though, think about doing some targeted lower limb strengthening activities to regain your control and function. There is strong evidence showing the improvement of muscular strength, balance, confidence, walking speed as well as improved mental ability and mood when targeted movement has been used to improve balance.
We have visited this many times, but it still remains vitally important. Sadly, statistics show that mental illness is still affecting 1 in 5 Australians, having an effect on the cognitive, behavioural and social functioning. Fortunately, there is growing evidence showing moving more can have a big difference in mood, without the nasty side effects of medication. This is another area that is best worked on with a professional, as it is hard enough to go through alone. Support for getting through the barriers to moving more is a valuable part of change to improve mood, energy levels and self-esteem.
These are very brief overviews in what sort of role movement can have in reducing the mask of the condition, increasing your control of the situation, as well as improving mood and self-esteem.
If any of these conditions resonate with you, our Exercise Physiologists (and Physiotherapists) are here to help!
Physiotas have 5 ESSA Accredited Exercise Physiologists working across 3 practices.
You can book appointments online by heading to our website or by phoning your local practice.
DEVONPORT – 6424 7511
Ben Brockman and Robert Talbot
LAUNCESTON – 6334 0622
Laura Downie and Sharania Vignesvaran
ULVERSTONE – 6425 5997