We are on the backside of a series on Frailty, the study of how the systems of the body work together and what happens when they stop. In addition (and more importantly) - how you can slow, stop and, in some cases, reverse these changes to live your life as long and full as possible.
This week we are going to be talking about the Musculoskeletal System, one of my favorites! You might suppose I like it so much, because it forms the bread and butter of my livelihood as a chiropractor, and you wouldn't be totally wrong! However, the real reason I like it so much is that this system out of all of them reacts the quickest and with amazing changes, with just a little bit of stimulus, a little bit goes a long way!
This system is made up of the frame work (bones and joints) and the engine that moves them (muscles). It is the "hardware" to the Nervous Systems "software," which we will talk about next week.
Sarcopenia: The Technical Term for Age-Related Muscle Loss
About now, you are probably trying to figure out why there is a picture of old cigarette butts in a tree stump as a caption for this section. Well, I am going to tell you: The best example of age-related muscle loss I can think of is when older men lose their bottom muscles. Their waist might continue to expand, but their pants get saggy in the rear! Do you know how hard it is to find a picture of an older man's pants on the copyright-free picture websites? You can't! The closest I came was when I typed in "Old Butts" and this picture came up. So, the next time you see an older guy (or gal) with saggy pants or some cigarette butts, think about age-related muscle loss or sarcopenia!
There are a number of reasons why we lose muscle as we age:
- Hormonal (sex hormone levels drop)
- Neurological (stimulus to the muscles decrease)
- Poor Nutrition
- Decreased Activity Levels
Declining muscle mass has been associated with a number of different health and disease states, most notably, diabetes, fall risk and weak fragile bones. In addition, diabetes is associated with a multitude of other issues including issues of inflammation (heart disease, neurological conditions). From a more practical standpoint, strong muscles allow you to do more of what you want for longer!
It All Comes Down To The Glutes!
In recent years, a simple test has been developed to determine how long someone will live: The Sitting Rising Test.
Click the link to not only see it demonstrated, but to get some great background on why it is so important and some easy to do exercises to improve your test score. Basically, the Sitting Rising Test
identifies how easy it is for you to get off the ground and correlates that to how long you will live - kind of scary! The main muscle that drives you up off the ground are your glute muscles
, otherwise known as your bottom-behind-butt-derriere, you get the idea! We actually did a whole blog series, not only on the Sitting Rising Test, but also on how to begin to engage the glute muscles to improve your outcome on this test. If you are serious about getting stronger, this is the place to start. If your base isn't strong, everything else is going to perform poorly as well! You can check out the series called Get Your Butt Off The Ground
There are so many things in life that you can't
control: genetics, accidents and, to some degree, stress. But one thing you can control is how often and how intensely you activate muscles and which ones. If the only muscle you have been activating lately is your bicep when bringing your fork to your mouth, try something new and get working on your backside! Along the way, you might find that you feel better, move better, reduce your risks of falls, improve your blood sugar levels and maybe flat out live longer!
Next week, we are going to be talking about the software that runs your hardware: the Nerve System!
Doug Williams, D.C.