Adding Life to Years – Holding onto Quality of Life & Independence in Later Years

Staying Strong & Fit

While it’s important at any age, staying strong and fit in your elder years has a direct effect on your quality of life. Keeping muscle strength around your shoulders, back and hips means you can engage in more meaningful activities like gardening or lifting your grandchildren. Getting fit means you’ll have more energy on day trips and won’t need to stop and rest as often as before. Both of these help prevent falls and improve your breathing, so you’ll feel less out of breath and more confident in yourself. Here’s some tips for adapting an exercise routine:

  1. Routine: Take on exercise that you can put into your schedule every week at the same time. Make that time sacred so that you only ever miss the exercise for a very good reason.
  2. Social: Arranging to exercise with other people means you’re more likely to get the exercise done, and more likely to enjoy it as well. Chatting and sharing stories helps distract you from the exercise and makes the time pass quicker.
  3. Variety: Having several different types of exercise in your routine keeps the week interesting and makes you significantly more likely to keep up your exercise routine for longer. Here’s some suggestions of different types of exercise older people can try:

For information on In-Home Physiotherapy-led exercise sessions, Click Here!


Avoiding Falls in the Home
Suffering falls in your own home is a common reason for older people having to leave their homes for Assisted Living or Nursing Homes. As you get older, it becomes harder to get yourself back up off the floor when you fall. The consequences of a fall also become more severe. Many older people suffer with Osteopenia or Osteoporosis (reduced bone density, ‘brittle bones’), which means that your bones break easier. when subject to trauma.  Hip fractures are all to commonly the result of falls, and can permanently affect your independence and mobility. Here’s 6 simple tips you or your older relative can adopt around the home to reduce the risk of falls and thus improve their safety:

  1. Move items that you use everyday onto a shelf, cabinet or counter-top at Waist Height. This will reduce the amount of bending, stretching or climbing you have to do, which will reduce your risk of falling everyday.
  2. Wear slippers or indoor footwear that Fit your Feet Well and have a Good Grip on the sole. The last thing you need is your shoes slipping on the floor, causing you to lose your balance and fall.
  3. Use a Grip-Mat in the shower and install Grab-Rails around the bath to help you getting in and out. These places are particularly dangerous and slippery when wet.
  4. Sleep disturbance is common in older adults (which I discuss further later on). Ensure you have a Lamp or Light Switch Near You in the Bed so you can turn the lights on and see where you’re putting your feet.
  5. Mop up Spillages Straight Away when they occur, so you don’t forget about them and slip on them later on!
  6. Wear night clothes and gowns that Don’t Drag or Hang on the Floor, as these are a significant trip hazard.

Improving Sleep Quality & Lifting Mood

As you move into your later years, you may notice that you find it hard to get to sleep and even harder to stay asleep! It’s not uncommon for you to get a poorer quality of sleep as well, leaving you feeling tired and moody during the following day. This sleep disturbance can be caused by many things including medication, physical illness and environmental causes. Some of these need to be treated by your doctor. Here’s some things you can try at home tonight to try and improve your sleep quality and duration:

  1. Take Exercise: Try taking exercise in the late afternoon or evening. Taking exercise in the morning means you’re more likely to nap in the afternoon, which then can cause sleep disturbance the following night. Make sure you’re breathing heavy when you’re exercising so you’ll be sufficiently tired out and ready to sleep!
  2. No TV in the Bedroom: Having a TV or Radio in your bedroom serves as a mental distraction. It impairs your brains preparation for sleep and as a result causes your sleep quality to be poor. Watch your TV in a separate room, so that when you come into your bedroom you’re there primarily to sleep.
  3. Fast before Sleeping: Digestion of food in your stomach can take up to 3 hours after a big meal. During this 3 hour period, its better for your body to remain predominantly upright, otherwise you’re likely to experience reflux or heartburn, both of which adversely affect sleep. This is why is better to wait for a while after eating before trying to sleep.
  4. Avoid Daytime Napping: Napping during the day is sometimes necessary, particularly if you’ve had a very active morning. However if you’re in a routine of taking an afternoon nap for 1-2 hours, you will find it more difficult to sleep in the evening time. Try breaking this routine for a day and see how much better you sleep that evening.
  5. Therapeutic Massage: Muscle aches and tension are a common cause of sleep disturbance, and can be relieved by therapeutic massage. This treatment also helps to improve mood and induce relaxation in the body, all of which will help prepare your body for sleep. Try taking a massage in the afternoon or evening and I guarantee you’ll sleep better!

elderly massage

Book an Appointment

If you’re interested in booking a consultation with me (Sean Flynn), a chartered physiotherapist, then don’t hesitate to give me a call, text or email (contact details below).

Phone: 0861546175

Email: info@flynnmedicalexercise.com

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4 Tips to Help you Exercise More

“Exercise is medicine, take if everyday!”

This is something I’m always telling my patients in the clinic. It’s vital that we start thinking of exercise as something that we have to do everyday, rather than something that’s purely fun and/or weather dependent and/or only for people who want to compete in sports or athletics. Have you ever set out on a new exercise frenzy, wanting to become super-fit, only to have your regime fall apart after a few short days or weeks? Its ok, you’re only human and none of us are robots! Implementing these tips the next time you start a new exercise regime will help you stick with it longer and enjoy it more as well.

Diary Make an Appointment

1. Plan your Weekly Regime

People who plan to do something are more likely to do it. Planning doesn’t just involve thinking about something, you also need to write it down somewhere you’re going to see it – be that in your phone calendar, in your diary or on a piece of paper stuck to your fridge! What you write down shouldn’t be that long or detailed, just a brief synopsis of what you’ll be doing to exercise. You also need to write down when you’re going to do the exercise. Example: ‘Monday: Walk the park before work’, ‘Tuesday: Run to the shop and back after dropping the kids to school’, or ‘Wednesday: Cycle to Jane’s house and back after dinner’. When you plan like this, the subconscious part of the brain processes your plan in advance, so you’re more mentally prepared when you go to do your exercise.

2. Variety is the Spice of Life!

Particularly when it comes to exercising (and also healthy eating), variety is crucial in maintaining your regime long-term. Repeating the same exercise session over and over is boring, and it doesn’t have to be! Switching between different types of exercise not only makes your sessions more interesting, it also challenges different areas of the body, and you’re less likely to get injured. For these reasons, even the most focused of athletes need to vary their exercise sessions.

3. Entertainment During your Exercise

If you’re entertained during your exercise session, you’ll exercise for longer and enjoy it more, I guarantee it. Entertainment can take many forms, it’s a case of choosing whatever works for you. Exercising with a friend, spouse or offspring is one example; the conversation and company helps pass the time. You can also exercise either while listening to podcasts, music playlists or watching your favourite TV show(s). I personally like to exercise while watching/listening to rugby matches! This is one of the reasons why exercising outdoors is better than exercising indoors on a machine, because there’s entertainment everywhere you look outdoors!

4. Start Slow, Small Increments

  • How hard is too hard? 

When (re)starting a new regime, of course you want to push yourself as hard as you can, primarily to see results as quickly as possible. STOP, don’t do it, this is a mistake! In order to gain the medical benefits of regular exercise, you need to be pushing yourself only so hard that you’re moderately out of breath i.e. so you have to breath through your mouth. It’s at that point that you’re challenging your cardiovascular system sufficiently for your fitness to improve.

  • How long is too long?

It’s also important not to push yourself too far into discomfort – remember that exercising for 5 minutes per day is better than no exercise at all. I recommend that you keep going until you’re really not enjoying the session anymore, and then try and hang on for another 2-3 minutes. Exercising for 5-10 minutes every day is better for your health than exercising for 40 minutes one day each week, because you’re challenging your cardiovascular system every day. You’re also more likely to keep it up long term!

health is priceless poster

5. Appropriate Clothing & Gear

If you’re like me and live in Ireland, then you’re used to wet weather. Often when you go to exercise outdoors, it’ll either be raining already or there’s a good chance it could start at any moment. Wearing comfortable, waterproof clothing can make exercising in the rain actually enjoyable, as opposed to sheer misery. Getting yourself a good pair of appropriate footwear is also highly advised. Getting welts or blisters will end your new exercise regime pretty quickly, so I advise investing in a good pair of Asics running shoes. You can find some good deals online for these types of things if you shop around!

That’s all for today, but if you live in the Dublin 18 area, why not get your exercise needs taken care of at Flynn Medical Exercise? I’ve got a variety of exercise classes and groups running 5 days each week. You’ll be tutored by a professional and meet like-minded people at the same time! Get in contact with me for more information! And remember…

“Exercise is medicine, take if everyday!”

Sean Flynn

Chartered Physiotherapist

 

What is the Role of your Community Physiotherapist? Part 1

Physiotherapy is a Health Care Profession, and in keeping with that we play a vital and varied role within Ireland’s Health Service (public and private). Most people have seen physiotherapists treating injuries and assisting sports teams, but what about the other, less obvious roles we fill, specifically with regard to Health Promotion and Hospital Discharge? I’ve written this article so that when you next get sick, you know how my colleagues and I can better assist you in getting better and staying better.

Assess Your Fitness, Flexibility & Posture

If you’ve got any problem, no matter what it is, getting a comprehensive assessment is a crucially important step towards solving the problem. As a physiotherapist, I have assessment expertise in the areas of both Posture and Fitness. 

Posture: From the top of your head right down to your feet, I can assess your posture and identify structures (muscles, bones, joints etc.) that are out of place, however slightly. Issues that might seem small, like fallen arches or forward shoulders, can nonetheless cause you big problems down the line, like Shin Splints or Frozen Shoulder. Posture assessments also includes assessing your flexibility, because tight muscles and joints inevitably lead to bad posture. After assessing you, I’ll  prescribe exercises and strategies to help you achieve and maintain good posture.

Poor Posture

Fitness: The health of your cardiopulmonary system (heart and lungs) is crucially important to your overall body health. Poor fitness can contribute to heart disease, lung disease or obesity, and generally makes everyday tasks that much harder to perform. Our physiotherapy degree includes comprehensive study of heart and lung biology, and physiotherapists play a central role in Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation programmes in hospitals. I can assess your fitness and prescribe you exercise at a precise level for your age and ability.

Exercise Test Image

Both of these important areas come under the idea of Health Promotion. As experts on the mechanics of your body, physiotherapists have a duty to teach and help people like you maintain a fit and healthy body and that is exactly what I aim to do everyday in my Flynn Medical Exercise clinic.

Encourage and Facilitate You in Exercise

As physiotherapists, we can’t just prescribe you exercises and hope that you do them. It is my firm belief that we should also provide you with easy, sustainable ways of getting those exercises done. I’ve put that belief into practice in my clinic by offering regular Group Exercise Classes which my patients can access as much as they require. Offering my patients regular, cost-effective ways to maintain your flexibility, improve your posture and increase your fitness is the most important service I offer to my patients.

Aerobic Theraband Setup

Of course, not every patient is suitable for group classes. Some patients have complex heart, lung or weight issues and require individual attention. That is why I also offer Individual Exercise Therapy sessions of which all my patients can avail. Getting time to exercise individually with your physiotherapist is an essential part of any rehabilitation programme, because we can target the exercises to your specific goals.

To Be Continued…

Be sure to keep an eye out for my next Community Physiotherapy Article to read about physiotherapy’s role in facilitating Early Hospital Discharge and Achieving Functional Independence. Until then, all the best!

Seán Flynn

Senior Physiotherapist

PH: 0861546175

EMAIL: info@flynnmedicalexercise.com

Principles on Weight Reduction and How I Apply them to my Patients

Everywhere you look there’s theories, fads and quick solutions regarding the quickest and most effective ways to lose weight. It can be extremely difficult to wade through all of it and come up with a weight loss programme for yourself, especially if you’re not a health care professional. As an experienced chartered physiotherapist, weight management falls directly into my area of expertise. I’ve been researching and applying my knowledge about weight loss since the days of my college thesis, and I’m going to tell you how I approach my patients who need to lose weight.

Postural Muscle Strengthening

If you’re carrying extra weight, chances are that you’ve experienced some associated lower back pain and/or knee pain. The primary benefit of strengthening your postural muscles is that it will reduce this pain.  When I say postural muscles, I’m mainly talking about your abdominal muscles, the muscles at the back of your hips, your thigh muscles and the muscles around your shoulder blades. Stronger muscles are able to bear more weight and consequently your joints have less weight to bear. You’ll feel less aches and pains which in turn will make it easier to exercise. It’s a win win.

4 pt core Opposite

The secondary benefit of strengthening these postural muscles is that there will be an increase in your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). BMR refers to the amount of calories that your body is spending every day to maintain the muscle you already have. The bigger your muscles are, the more calories that will be spent in this way. Therefore postural muscle strengthening will help you burn more calories and thus lose weight

Bridging

Exercise Intensity Determined by Heart Rate

In the absence of any severe heart conditions, your heart rate is the most accurate indication of how hard your body is working to perform a particular exercise. When designing and leading individual weight management sessions, I lead patients to work at 80% of their Estimated Maximum Heart Rate (EMHR) for short periods of time: roughly 20 minutes. If you’re reaching that heart rate goal, then you’re burning enough calories to lose weight, and exercising for 20 minutes is psychologically much easier than exercising for 60 minutes. It’s also much easier to fit into your daily schedule, which is a big factor as well.

Shop for Heart Rate Monitors on Amazon.co.uk:

Exercise Test Image.jpg

Direct, Physiotherapy-Led Sessions

One of the hardest things to do when you’re trying to lose weight is to choose your exercises. If you’re on your own or searching online, chances are you’ll end up with a repetitive regime of exercises, and even the most effective exercise can get boring after a couple of sessions. To combat that, I lead my patients directly through each session, so all they have to do is show up. I monitor their heart rate continuously, and modify the exercises as needed to increase or decrease intensity. I individually design each exercise programme tailored to that patient’s history of aches and pains as well as their physical ability. So all my patients have to do is follow my lead.

No Shortcuts

If you want to lose weight and keep it off, then there are no shortcuts. The most natural way to lose that weight is to burn those calories off. If you want to become a patient of mine, give me a call, text or email. You can come for a no-obligation fitness assessment where you’ll meet me, do a simple exercise test and talk about what my Weight Management Approach could do for you. I give every 6th individual weight loss session free, and I charge €50 per session. No gimmicks, just hard work and well earned results. Are you ready?

Seán Flynn

Senior Physiotherapist

PH: 0861546175

Email: info@flynnmedicalexercise.com

My Mysterious Knee Pain – Treating and Preventing Patellar Tracking Dysfunction

Common Symptoms – is my kneecap mal-tracking?

  • Do you have knee pain despite having no incident where you specifically injured it?
  • Has your knee pain been persistent for a number of weeks without getting better?
  • Have you recently increase in activities/exercises that put a lot of weight/stress through your legs OR are you recovering from another unrelated leg injury resulting in significantly less exercise for your legs?
  • Are you feeling pain primarily in the inside of your knee? Is this pain worse when walking down stairs, and sitting with your knee bent for long periods?

General Information – why does this injury occur?

Your kneecap, first and foremost, is a bone which we call your Patella. When straightening and bending your knee, your patella glides over the front of your knee. Your patella is pulled through this movement by your Quadriceps (thigh) muscles. As well as pulling your patella upwards, your quadriceps muscles also pull your knee cap inwards (i.e. towards your mid-line). There is a smooth track of bone in your Femur (thigh bone) in which your patella glides quite comfortably. When your patella deviates from this track (pulled to the left or right), these symptoms are caused.

The pull of your patella  towards your mid-line is primarily the responsibility of your Vastus Medialis Obliquus (VMO) muscle, one of your four quadriceps muscles. If this muscle is weak, your patella will instead slide outwards (away from your mid-line) and grind against parts of your femur (thigh bone). It’s likely that this it what’s causing your pain.

If you have fallen arches in your foot (also known as Excessive Ankle Pronation), then this could be causing your tibia (shin bone) to be rotated/tilted ever so slightly. This can cause your patella to be tilted/rotated ever so slightly, which in turn causes your patella to grind against the sides of it’s track in your femur (hip bone).

Typical Treatment – how will you cure my patellar mal-tracking injury?

  • Rest: Resting from activities where your knee is working for extended periods of time is important to prevent further trauma to the injured tissues. Avoiding activities like descending stairs and sitting with knees bent should be avoided even if they are no longer painful, as they are still damaging your knee.
  • Manual Therapy: Hands on physiotherapy is important to stretch the tight structures pulling your patella out of alignment. I will perform glides on your patella, pushing and stretching it towards your mid-line. Manual stretching of the Ilio-tibial Band (fibrous tissue stretching from your hip into your knee cap) is also essential if this structure is tight.
  • Strengthening: As mentioned, if one of your quadriceps muscles (Vastus Medialis Obliquus) is identified in the assessment as being weak, then strengthening and conditioning of this muscle is crucial. For sportsmen and women quadriceps will have to be strengthened to a high level and continuous leg strengthening will be required going forward to prevent reoccurring injury. If the below exercises are pain-free, you can start performing them straight away.
  • Stretching: It’s common with almost all knee injuries to see some tightness in the hamstring muscle group (back of the thigh). Therefore stretching of these muscles is almost always prescribed. Additionally, home stretching of your Ilio-tibial band is also important to maintain the gains achieved with manual therapy.
  • Taping: Lastly, taping can help to manage this pain in the knee in the short term, especially if spending lots of time walking/running is unavoidable in your daily life. I can show you how to tape this injury effectively so you can manage this aspect of the treatment yourself on a day to day basis.

SLS Squat

Make an Appointment

Remember, if you’ve got a knee problem, or any other injury, why not get it assessed by a professional, before it gets worse. Call me on 0861546175 or send me an email on info@flynnmedicalexercise.com. You can see me in my Blackglen Clinic, Sandyford or we can organise a Home Appointment. I have weekend and evening appointments available as well, just give me a call for more information.

Thanks for reading!

Seán Flynn, Senior Physiotherapist

Cardiac Rehabilitation – What it is and Who its for!

What’s Cardiac Rehabilitation all about?

If I told you that you could prevent yourself from suffering with severe heart problems like heart attack, chest pain and heart failure, you’d be interested to hear more, wouldn’t you? I’m sure you’d be interested if I also told you that Coronary Heart Disease and Heart Attack remain the two most common causes of death in Ireland. Well, the answer is in Cardiac Rehabilitation, one of the unique services we offer here at Flynn Medical Exercise.

To read more about our Rehabilitation Programmes, click here.

We’ve all heard the term rehabilitation before – it refers to the restoration of something to it’s previous healthy state. When we talk about Cardiac Rehabilitation, we are therefore referring to the restoration of your heart function and your fitness levels to a healthy/healthier state. In the national health system, you will be referred to a public Cardiac Rehabilitation programme after surviving a heart attack, undergoing heart surgery, or possible after less serious cardiac procedures like the insertion of a stent. However, engaging in a Cardiac Rehabilitation programme before any of these events occur can be extremely effective in preventing adverse cardiac events in the first place – and as we’ve also all heard before, Prevention is Better than Cure!

What’s involved in Cardiac Rehabilitation?

Exercise Stress Test

At the core of Cardiac Rehabilitation is safe, monitored, proscribed exercise. You need to exercise your heart to get it fit again, and there’s no short cut around that. Before engaging in an exercise programme though, we first carry out what’s called an Exercise Stress Test. This type of test typically takes place on a treadmill under safe, supervised conditions, and you complete an exercise protocol that steadily increases in intensity. These tests usually take between 15 and 25 minutes, and by the end you’ll be working hard! We use these tests to determine how hard your heart is able to work without putting you in danger, and we use that to guide our exercise prescription going forward.

Exercise Therapy

Following on from your exercise stress test, we now get to the hard work. From your results, your assessing clinician (i.e. physiotherapist or doctor) will determine a suitable target heart rate for you to aim for when exercising. It’s normally between 60% and 80% of your maximum heart rate but it depends on a number of factors, including your medical history. You will then commence  a regular exercise programme where you aim to maintain your heart rate in the target range. These exercises generally take place in a clinic under supervision so that your exercise session is effective, safe and completed in full.

Who would benefit from Cardiac Rehabilitation?

If you or a loved one is experiencing any of the following symptoms, you should consider engaging in a Cardiac Rehabilitation programme:

  • Coronary Heart Disease
  • Heart Attack (Myocardial Infarction)
  • Heart Surgery
  • Smoking
  • Experiencing Shortness of Breath
  • Chest Pain
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Fatigue
  • Overweight and/or Obesity
  • Recovering from Surgery i.e. Heart, Orthopaedic or Transplant surgery

At Flynn Medical Exercise, our prime specialisation is in personal rehabilitation programmes, like cardiac rehabilitation. We run private, effective, individualised programmes for people just like you to get you on the road to a healthier, happier, longer life. Call us to make an appointment for an assessment today: 0861546175, or to read more about our Rehabilitation Programmes, click here. 

Why not share this article on your Facebook or Twitter account so that someone who needs this type of care might see it! Thank you in advance!

Seán Flynn is the Senior Physiotherapist with Flynn Medical Exercise, and takes patients in their Sandyford clinic. For more information on starting a personalised rehabilitation programme, why not give us a call? PH: 0861546175

Posture & Stretching – Muscle Imbalances & How To Break Them!

Having good posture is something we’re continually aware of every time we look in the mirror and when we look around at our colleagues in the workplace. It’s something our mother’s always drew out attention to (stand up straight!), and and with good reason. The vast majority of us have some form or combination of postural abnormalities, and they can cause us a lot of discomfort!

Abnormal Posture

   Correct Posture

Common Postural Issues

Postural issues that we often see (demonstrated in the first photograph) include forward shoulder position, forward head position, hyper extension at the upper neck (cervical spine), and forward curve of the middle (thoracic) spine. Look familiar? This type of posture, either mild or severe, typically results from a lifestyle that involves lots of sitting combined with looking at screens, either computers or televisions.

Postural abnormalities like these develop over a long period of time, and are associated with some muscles gradually becoming quite short and tight, while other muscles become very loose and weak. The short/tight pectoral muscles pull bony structures like our shoulders into a forward position, while our shoulder retraction muscles become quite loose, weak and ineffective. Similar things happen in the lower back (lumbar spine) and at the neck (cervial spine).

The Implications

If muscles are too tight, or too weak, then it’s likely that our joints are not getting the support that they need. Reduced flexibility of the trunk and hamstring muscles have been shown to be associated with recurrent lower back pain, which affects more than half of us throughout our lives. Weak shoulder retraction muscles can eventually lead to acute sprains of the thoracic spine. Tight quadriceps muscles have been associated with lower back pain in adolescents as well, so stretching is also important for this age group as well, even though we maybe wouldn’t think it.

Stretching and Posture Classes

For more information on our Stretching & Posture Classes at Flynn Medical Exercise, click here!

The good news is that a lot of postural abnormalities are correctable. Incorporating the right stretching and strengthening exercises into routine twice or three times each week can keep these issues at bay. Classes like Pilates, Yoga, or our specialised Stretching & Posture Class go a long way to combating postural abnormalities and they help to keep everyday aches and pains at bay. In addition, participating in classes like Yoga or stretching classes for at least two months has been shown to significantly decrease the incidence of anxiety, stress and depression.

So get exercising people! Join the exercise revolution, and #exerciseeverydamnday!