Living Lite

Spring Training: Strength Train for Knee Pain

March 21, 2019

I have knee issues like about everyone else I know. In fact, "about 60 million Americans have knee osteoarthritis and this number will increase by 50% over the next decade," according to The Journal of Injury, Function, and Rehabilitation. I started feeling little twinges by my early 30's. Perhaps being a gymnast and a dancer growing up led to early symptoms. No matter, working with physical therapists and trainers over the years averted any serious pain - until recently.

Three years ago, a torn meniscus required arthroscopic surgery, but my knee pain is back. After some research, I found a review of studies in the journal, BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, and I learned that certain knee arthroscopic surgery is controversial  because apparently, it can hasten knee degeneration. That can lead to the need for knee replacement within just a couple of years. So I can't help wondering: Should I have undergone the arthroscopic surgery to begin with? There are really no answers. And I can't look back now.

Walking (Photo by: Katherine Tallmadge Collections) Walking

But I'm feeling hopeful these days. Lots of interesting research is showing that exercising certain muscles with heavier weights, fewer repetitions (meaning you exhaust your muscle within 8 to 12 reps) can successfully decrease pain while increasing function, and that includes longer and stronger walking.

I'm especially convinced about these recommendations because a body of evidence is building that "power training" with heavy weights is most effective at building muscle in older people. That's because it improves the functioning of the nerves that power muscle, according to a study conducted by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. The degradation of these nerves is a major cause of muscle impairment in older people, causing disability and loss of independence.

"Improvements in symptoms and function are directly related to exercise intensity and that higher intensity (if maintained over time) would sustain muscle strength and preserve functional abilities," according to the knee arthritis study. The study continued to state that even with more severe knee arthritis, intense strength training enhances postoperative recovery if knee replacement is necessary.

Quadriceps Muscle Group (Photo by: Wikipedia.org) Quadriceps Muscle Group

Quadricep strength is particularly important.

To that end, I'm working with a physical therapist and trainer (periodically), and have invested in (used) weight machines (Craig's list). I'm exercise biking, and do mat pilates from a YouTube video. It's amazing how much more easily - and with significantly less pain - I can walk after I exercise.

I urge you to do the same!


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Your Container Garden's Spring Hydrangea Spruce Up

March 17, 2019

Winter's end is a time for gardeners to hustle, kind of like Spring cleaning - in the dirt. My container garden was drab all winter, except for a few evergreens. So I'm eager to enjoy some color and vibrance again.

My hydrangea buds waking up after their winter slumber (Photo by: Katherine Tallmadge) My hydrangea buds waking up after their winter slumber

Thankfully, my five hydrangeas - some of which have been in pots for 11 years - are awakening with tiny buds, which inspired me to get to work so that my garden will blossom as soon as possible.

The beauty of my garden is thrilling; it makes this city girl happy; my neighbors love it, too, and we often gather around it chatting. And, as I mentioned in November 20's article: "Create Your Holiday City Garden in Pots!being among nature, plants and trees, improves your well-being.

Horticulturist and Garden Designer, Luis Mármol, pruning my Hydrangea (Photo by: Katherine Tallmadge) Horticulturist and Garden Designer, Luis Mármol, pruning my Hydrangea

I advise my clients to get outside into the fresh air because "The benefits of nature span a remarkable breadth of health outcomes with evidence for ... reductions in ... all diseases ... from cardiovascular disease, improved healing times, self-perceived general health, reduced stress, reduced respiratory illnesses and allergies... a reduced risk of poor mental health, improved social cohesion, and improved cognitive ability," according to the American Journal of Public Health.

I took the opportunity of this perfect weekend to prepare my hydrangeas for a flourishing spring display, with the advice of my garden guru, Luis Mármol, Dumbarton Oaks Horticulturist and Garden Designer.

Luis Mármol loosening some of the hydrangea’s compacted roots before planting it in the new pot (Photo by: Katherine Tallmadge) Luis Mármol loosening some of the hydrangea’s compacted roots before planting it in the new pot

First, the pruning, the scariest part for me. In my hydrangeas' 11 years, I didn't dare cut them for fear of losing blossoms. But Luis said pruning is necessary. It adds fullness and increases blooms. He said to cut off the ends of the most brittle branches. If they snap off easily when you bend them, those are the branches you can lose.

Secondly, prepare the new, larger pot by creating drainage. I drilled new holes in the bottom of the pot, and filled it with a layer of old aluminum cans. Luis added an additional thin layer of leaves and then potting soil. 

Third, remove the plant carefully from its container, and pull apart some of the roots with your hands or a garden fork.

Finally, place the plant in the pot so that it is centered. Pour potting soil around the plant to fill in the container. Be sure there are three "fingers" of space between the top of the soil and the top of the pot. This way, when you water, the water stays in the pot and actually waters the hydrangea instead of spilling onto the ground.

Luis Mármol filling potting soil around the plant, then patting it down gently (Photo by: Katherine Tallmadge) Luis Mármol filling potting soil around the plant, then patting it down gently

BEFORE: My front porch container garden after winter pruning, waiting for its Spring awakening (Photo by: Katherine Tallmadge) BEFORE: My front porch container garden after winter pruning, waiting for its Spring awakening

AFTER: My front porch container garden in spring. Definitely worth the effort! (Photo by: Katherine Tallmadge) AFTER: My front porch container garden in spring. Definitely worth the effort!

Now, for the hardest part: Waiting!


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Vaccines are Safe!

March 10, 2019

"The current measles outbreaks in the United States and elsewhere are being fueled by misinformation about the safety of vaccines," according to warnings issued recently from the Presidents of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. 

To help counter such misinformation, the Academies created a website that provides clear, concise, and evidence-based answers to questions about vaccine safety and other commonly asked questions about health and science as identified through our partnership with Google. 

The evidence base includes a number of our studies examining vaccine access, safety, scheduling, and possible side effects.  Our work has validated that the science is clear – vaccines are extremely safe, the Academies Presidents continued in their warning statement.

Given our shared congressional mandate to advise the nation, we are compelled to draw attention to these facts in order to inform better decision-making at a time when it is urgently needed to protect the health of communities in our country and around the world.  Furthermore, we call on our professional colleagues everywhere to share these facts as widely as possible, they added.  

 


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