Loss of Strength in Men, Leads to Loss of Function

Sarcopenia is defined as the age associated loss of strength and muscle mass. Sarcopenia affects us all, as we age. Starting as early as the mid to late 30’s, it is common to see a slow loss in strength.  This gradual loss of strength is often associated with pain and eventually a loss of function. It appears that for men, the strength loss occurs at a greater rate than it does for our women counterparts.

This scenario is seen over and over in our clinic.  Men will come into the clinic with some sort of pain. This is usually a pain that they have been dealing with for a long time. They come through our doors because the pain has gotten so bad that it is interfering with the things they want to do,  like playing golf, tennis, or even working.  Upon evaluation 2 things quickly become apparent:

  1. there is a loss of mobility
  2. lack of  strength/stability

Strength loss can significantly affect your ability to do the things you like to do.  If you have given up on some of your favorite activities, have trouble competing at the same level, or are looking to prevent this from happening to you, try strength training.

Here are some tips to get you started:

  1. To get stronger you need resistance exercises. Generally you should select a resistance that you are able to do about 8-12 repetitions.
  2. Slower is better than faster. Lift the weight slowly and with good control. This will help you recruit more muscle fiber and reduce chances of injury.
  3. Strength can be gained with as little as 1 set of an exercise, 1 to 2 times per week.
  4. Allow for enough recovery time between workouts. I like at least 48 hour recovery period. In general, the harder you work out the longer the recovery needed.
  5. Body weight exercises are great. Exercises like push ups, pull ups and bridges can be an effective, inexpensive option. Remember to perform the exercises slowly. If these are too hard to complete 8-12 reps, modify the exercise to make it easier.
  6. Weight machines are another way to get started with strength training. Use a variety of machines to promote muscle balance. Choose a resistance that you can complete 8-12 slow repetitions.
  7. Use good form and don’t work into pain.
  8. For best results you should consult a professional to specifically design your program. There are many things that go into effective strength training. A physical therapist or exercise physiologist are ideal to fit your specific needs.

For additional information on strength training or the programs here at Baudry Therapy Center please feel free to comment or contact our office at 504 841 0150.

Pilates for the Body and Brain

“Contrology is complete coordination of body, mind and spirit. Through Contrology you first purposefully acquire complete control of your own body and then through proper repetition of its exercises you gradually and progressively acquire that natural rhythm and coordination associated with all your mental and subconscious activities.” (Pilates 1945)

Above is a direct quote from Joseph Pilates explaining what he expected from the method that was later named after him, Pilates. Everyone agrees that we grow concerned about our physical limitations as the body ages. With age and decreased activity our neuromuscular connectivity becomes altered. By neuromuscular connectivity, we mean the brain to muscle connection which helps us coordinate movement and function.  We develop altered and ineffective movement patterns, which often lead to pain and dysfunction. Pilates is a method of training that, through it’s focus on postural stability and alignment, can stimulate and re-program our system to improve quality of movement.

By connecting the brain to the body as we move it, conscious movement gradually becomes automatic or subconscious. This is sometimes referred to as motor learning. For example, a slumped posture might feel normal due to the years and years of poor sitting habits. As we initially correct the slump by bringing an awareness to it, it feels awkward and requires repeated reminders.  Over time however, the brain inputs the sit and stand TALL reminders into the body as a constant, and the body realizes the change. The culmination of this process results in the slumped posture beginning to feel abnormal, and the sit and stand TALL posture normal. It becomes no longer a conscious effort but a subconscious one, much like blinking the eye.

In a typical hour long Pilates session clients are continuously directed to focus and connect the brain to the body. The result of increased conscious and subconscious brain work facilitates a natural shift towards the desired effect.  At Baudry Therapy Center, we use a holistic approach to wellness, including comprehensive Pilates methods to improve  form and function for active movement.

By Kathy Koehl

Pilates Instructor at Baudry Therapy Center

strength, balance, motion…for fitness, for life