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5 Reasons to Take Pilates When You’re 40+

Pilates is good for anyone and everyone… but especially for middle aged and older adults. Here are just some of the reasons to take Pilates classes if you’re in your 40s, 50s, 60s and beyond!

1. Relieve -and prevent- back pain

Many people who come to us with back pain think that their pain would prevent them from participating in an exercise program like Pilates – but the truth is, it’s the opposite! Guided, individualized Pilates combined with a physical therapy regimen is actually one of the best things you could do for your back. We even have specific Pilates classes geared towards people with back pain! Pilates strengthens your entire body, starting from your core, which naturally prevents future back issues stemming from muscular weakness or imbalance. Furthermore, Pilates (combined with PT) teaches correct movement – which is the number one way to relieve any current pain!

2. Increase balance

Since Pilates is all about core strength, it makes sense that continued practice can improve your balance by leaps and bounds! This is an especially important benefit for the older adults who do Pilates with us. As we age, our balance unfortunately deteriorates. However, those changes are not irreversible! Pilates retrains the balance and strength that makes falls less likely.

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One of our group classes!

 

3. Improve flexibility

You don’t have to be flexible to start Pilates, but you will see your range of motion improve drastically after consistent practice! Improving flexibility is especially important as we age. The founder of the Pilates system himself, Joseph Pilates, once said,

 “if your spine is inflexibly stiff at 30, you are old; if it is completely flexible at 60, you are young.”

The years you’ve spent on earth is just a number… but it’s the condition of your body that dictates your age – not the other way around! And flexibility is the cornerstone to musculoskeletal health and resilience.

4. Reduce stress

We know that exercise in general is a great stress reliever, but Pilates is especially beneficial because it focuses on literally releasing that stress from your body through guided, intentional movement. Plus, having a regular Pilates class to attend can be a consistent fixture in your life that can serve as an outlet for all your day to day stresses!

5. Improve physique

“In 10 sessions you’ll feel the difference, in 20 sessions you’ll see a difference, and in 30 sessions you’ll have a whole new body.”

That’s another great quote from Joseph Pilates! Pilates is one of the best full body workouts out there, and it’s super effective for improving muscle tone overall and shedding excess body fat. If you practice Pilates regularly, you’ll continue to gain strength overall, which will improve your ability and performance in any other physical activity you enjoy!

Are you over the age of 40 and wondering if Pilates is a good fit for you? Check out our website to learn more!

Why You Need an Accountability Team

The Importance of Accountability

Lately I’ve been feeling like there are just not enough hours in the day to do everything I need to do, and to be honest, it’s thrown me off track a bit! We have so many awesome things going on here at CJ Physical Therapy and Pilates, and despite how exciting our development and growth has been recently, it can be stressful to stay on top of everything.

However, I need to remind myself how lucky I am to have good, supportive people around me who I can rely on as my “accountability team.” They’re the people who will hold me accountable for the things I really need to be doing, redirect my focus if I’m pouring all my energy into less crucial tasks, see things I’m not seeing, and sometimes to simply give me the thumbs up (or down). For me – that’s my husband and my AMAZING team at CJPT and Pilates (many of whom you’ve had the awesome chance to meet)!

The lovely ladies of CJPT & Pilates!

Strangely enough, this topic has been coming up A LOT lately with our clients too!

I can’t tell you how many times someone comes into my office stressed out and worried because they didn’t get to do their exercises this week, they didn’t do them exactly right – or worse – they try to delay or put off getting help because they don’t have time to do the exercises…

Helping you help yourself

First – getting help for a back, neck, or knee problem that’s been lingering for awhile – or that you’ve been putting off for awhile – isn’t just about doing exercises. That’s actually where most people are confused and get it wrong (if it were that simple – well, frankly – I’d be out of a job!).

Where I help people the most is by becoming a part of their support and accountability team! Often when I first meet with someone, it starts with getting to know what’s going on in their life. How busy are they? Do they spend most of their time in a plane or car because of work? Do they have three little kids, or grandkids, they’re trying to keep up with? Do they have one or two really energetic dogs that have them running around the house or yard all the time?

I want to know what your real life is like. That way we can come up with a realistic plan that will set you up for success. Expecting you to suddenly go to the gym every day when you don’t even have a membership is kind of ridiculous. So is expecting you to NEVER bend over when you’ve got two little kids at home, for example. It’s important that you are working with someone who understands you, your life, and is prepared to be part of your support and accountability system. You don’t need someone who is just going to make life more difficult for by recommending unrealistic treatments or imposing demands that simply won’t work (or more importantly LAST) with your individual lifestyle.

Here for the Long Haul

Now, being a physical therapist in the traditional sense, it would be very easy for me to do some manual work on the table for each of my clients, and even go through some therapeutic exercises that I know will get rid of their pain quickly. BUT… does that actually get you through a physically and mentally strenuous week? Does a quick fix really help in the long run?

No – and that’s why having a support and accountability team – especially when it comes to your health – is absolutely vital.

Don’t work with people who simply put bandaids on the problem in the form of drugs or quick fixes. Work with someone who is willing to dig in and find a real solution, support you along the way, and hold you accountable for the time and energy that you need to invest in your health as well!

If you’re interested in adding a specialist physical therapist (and/or Pilates instructor) to your accountability team, you can reach out anytime or even request a time to talk to one of our specialists for FREE. Thanks for reading – and for holding ME accountable to sharing this advice with you!

Woman sleeping facedown on a bed.

Tired all the Time? Get Moving!

All of us have experienced tiredness, exhaustion, and fatigue. Sometimes it hits after a late night spent working or socializing. Other times, our exhaustion seems to come out of nowhere. With our fast-paced modern lifestyles, it’s not surprising that statistics from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report around 15.3 percent of women and 10.1 percent of men regularly feeling very tired or exhausted in the United States.

A lack of sufficient sleep isn’t the only factor that could be contributing to your fatigue – poor dietary habits, excessive napping, unhealthy amounts of stress in your daily life, and living a more sedentary lifestyle are all possibilities according to a recent article published by Medical News Today. It might seem counter-intuitive that more exercise could help you feel less tired, but it’s the truth! Sitting on the couch is one of the worst things you can do for chronic fatigue or tiredness (not to mention the impact it has on your back). Moderate amounts of exercise are proven to boost your energy, not drain it – and getting a good workout in during the day will help you sleep better at night.

Woman sleeping facedown on a bed.

If you rarely exercise with intention, or spend most of your day at a desk, it can be challenging to transition into a more active lifestyle. Many people in such circumstances benefit from joining a group fitness class or finding an “exercise buddy” to hold them accountable. Our Pilates classes right here in Portsmouth are a great option because they’re geared towards beginners, and Pilates gives you that full body workout that will leave you feeling invigorated and energized afterwards – but ready to fall right asleep at bedtime! The mindfulness aspect of Pilates as well as the exercise make it helpful for reducing stress, which in turn reduces fatigue.

We say all the time that movement is medicine, and it’s true in more ways than one. Movement is medicine for the aches and pains of your joints and muscles, but it’s also medicine for your stress and exhaustion. Exercise stimulates endorphin release, triggering positive feelings of elation or mild euphoria. Shifting into a more positive mental state during a day when you’re feeling completely drained will help you cope better with whatever you’re dealing with, in addition to giving you more energy to get through it. You don’t need to spend hours at the gym every day – just 30 minutes of movement each day, whether it be walking, running, biking, Pilates, yoga, golf, etc. will make a difference.

Movement is Medicine – When Prescribed Properly!

We hear all the time that “movement is medicine,” but it’s important to add the qualifier – when prescribed properly. If you were sick, you wouldn’t just walk into a pharmacy and blindly pick a medicine without thorough knowledge of what your condition is and a recommendation (or better yet a prescription) from your doctor. When you’re in serious physical pain that keeps you from living the lifestyle you want to live, movement can absolutely be your medicine. You just need to make sure you’re using the right kind…

Every person’s body is different, so every individual dealing with pain has a slightly different experience. That’s why working with a physical therapist – who is trained to customize a treatment plan for your specific issue – is so beneficial. We can identify specific movements that actually are worsening your symptoms, while conversely being able to pick out movements that not only relieve pain in the short term but allow your body to recover fully and become stronger. A lifetime of poor movement patterns can lead to pain and injuries down the road, even in the most athletic and active among us! Physical therapy is all about redesigning those movement patterns and reinforcing correct movement so that people can remain active and pain-free.

Many of our more active clients find that exercising independently will relieve their symptoms for a little bit, but when they wake up the next morning the pain is back in full force. Part of a physical therapist’s job is to help you find the specific exercises that create lasting relief and enable you to go back to your normal activities without having to start over from square one every day. There is no “one size fits all” treatment when it comes to pain, which is why we personalize every client’s treatment to their individual needs and circumstances. We “prescribe” the movements that are right for the individual, not just those that are generally helpful for people with back pain or people with knee problems.

In addition to prescribing specific physical therapy movements, we love to add the movement system of Pilates to our clients’ treatment in order to improve strength, balance, and coordination. It’s incredibly beneficial for clients to have the support system of a physical therapist and a pilates instructor working in tandem to find the right movements to rehabilitate each particular individual. Our goal is always to get our clients back to their full range of movement and activities – we NEVER want to avoid any movement permanently in order to avoid pain – but on the road to that full recovery, the structure of Pilates and the opportunity for physical assistance can be an extremely powerful counterpart to physical therapy.

Why More People are Choosing to Pay Cash for Physical Therapy

If you’ve ever had an injury or dealt with chronic pain, you probably followed a pretty traditional course of action to address it. You went to your primary care doctor and they sent you to the lab for x rays,  prescribed medication, or both. You may have gotten a referral to a specialist or even a surgeon. You went to that appointment and were either told that you needed surgery or that you needed to modify your physical activity and avoid certain activities in order to not exacerbate the problem. Basically, you were thrust into the assembly line that has become modern healthcare.

But did you know that you could bypass all of this hassle – and get faster results – by going directly to a physical therapist?

Physical therapists are trained to diagnose your problem and provide a fully customized treatment option that doesn’t involve prescription medications or procedures. In almost all states (including NH) you don’t even need a prescription to see a physical therapist.

“Don’t I Need an MRI?”

There’s a huge misconception out there that if you are experiencing pain and/or limited mobility, you have to get an MRI to “see” what the problem is. MRI’s have become routine for people dealing with back problems. But what if you could have your injury diagnosed without paying for that uncomfortable imaging process? Better yet, what if the person assessing and diagnosing your injury was the same person who would treat it? If you see a physical therapist BEFORE getting an MRI, chances are you’ll have all the answers you wanted and a step by step plan of how you can get back to an active, pain-free lifestyle without undergoing the physical trauma of surgery.  Plus, physical therapists are trained to know when you need to see a doctor.  Research has proven time and time again that what shows up in the MRI does not correlate with what is causing your pain.  More often than not, the reason for your pain has to do with some type of movement dysfunction (which won’t show up on an MRI).  Physical therapists are the industry EXPERTS in movement dysfunction and can resolve 80-90% of all musculoskeletal problems – without any special tests or visits to a specialist medical doctor.

“How do I know that Physical Therapy will even work?”

Physical therapy DOES work.  But what doesn’t always work is the model of delivery.

Let me explain.

Because of all the limitations insurance companies have placed on reimbursement over the years, most traditional physical therapy clinics (those that take insurance) have been forced to see more patients than they would like at any one time – just so they can pay the bills and keep the lights on!  Additionally, insurance companies have essentially taken over your care.  They decide who you can see, what type of treatment you will get, and how many visits you are allowed to get.  These decisions are being made by someone who’s never even spoken to you, met you, or actually looked at you to see what’s going on and what might be the best course of action for you.  Because of this, “physical therapy” has gotten a bad reputation and a lot of people find that it’s a waste of time, or that it consists of just a bunch of exercises.  It’s not the physical therapist’s fault, it’s simply the effect of the modern health care industry that cares more about their bottom line than they do your experience and results.  I’ve never met a “bad” physical therapist – only “bad” set-ups and circumstances.

If you don’t want to be prescribed medication, you don’t want to deal with procedures like injections or surgery, you don’t want to waste your money on an MRI, and you don’t want to go to traditional physical therapy and feel like you are wasting your time because you are ignored or are doing the same exercises over and over – then the answer is to go outside of your insurance and pay out of pocket.

This is know as going “out of network”.

“Wait… What… You want me to pay for my physical therapy????”

Yep.

When it comes to musculoskeletal problems, more and more people are actually choosing to take their health into their own hands by paying for it themselves.  The assumption is that something like physical therapy is super expensive, because most of the time, when your insurance doesn’t pay for something it IS expensive.  Instead, people spend their money on massage therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic care, and personal trainers – all in an effort to avoid doctor’s offices and take care of the problem on their own.  They never even consider paying for something like physical therapy.  But if you go to a specialist physical therapist who is completely out of network, you can actually save yourself money, and more importantly – time.

Here’s why:

Physical therapists who don’t contract with insurance companies are able to spend more time with you (most spend an entire hour with just you) and create a truly customized plan of care.  For example, when I work with clients, I often see them once per week for about 6 sessions, and then we start seeing each other less often.  Many times, a client will spend a good 6-8 months with me, but it will consist of only 10-12 in-person sessions and the rest of the time we are checking in over email to make sure everything is going the way it should be. In most insurance-based physical therapy clinics, you blow through 12 sessions in as little as 4-6 weeks.  It usually takes longer than 6-weeks to fix a chronic problem that has been nagging at you for several months. That 6 weeks of treatment might get you feeling better, but it’s usually not enough time to make sure that problem won’t come back.  That’s the point, isn’t it?  While it may seem cheaper in the short-term to do it this way, it ends up costing you a lot more in the long run, especially when that problem comes back.  You feel disheartened, and resort to more expensive lines of treatment that you never really wanted – like surgery or injections. If you do your investment right the first time around, you can save yourself a lot of future headaches as well as out of pocket costs.

My clients love that we spread the care out according to how they need it.  I also coordinate care with their other providers (like personal trainers and chiropractors).  Since I don’t have to spend my time arguing with insurance companies over whether or not they are going to let you keep seeing me, I can spend my time on you instead.  And the best part – many times our sessions can actually be paid for by your insurance company (you submit your own claims), a flexible spending account, or a health saving account!  But even for those those that don’t want to bother with that, they tell me that it is so much more valuable – and worth every penny – to have a relationship like this with their physical therapist versus one that is controlled by their insurance company.  The biggest thing I hear: “Why didn’t I come to you first”.

If you are curious about whether or not this model of physical therapy is right for you just give me a call!  It’s not for everyone, but more and more people are finding that it is.  If you are local to Portsmouth, NH you can come to our office and talk to one of our specialists for FREE – just to make sure that going out of network for specialist physical therapy care is the right decision for you.  If you aren’t local, I have contacts to so many other therapists who work just like me all over the country.  Your health is worth at least a conversation, right?   Find us on Facebook or get in touch via our website with any questions.  We’d love to hear from you!