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Active Retirees : Active Retirees Feb-March 2012
are attached to the bones. Together these elements form the musculoskeletal system. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reveals alarming facts in the study Musculoskeletal Conditions in Australia: A Snapshot, 2004-05. Musculoskeletal conditions including arthritis, back pain, osteoporosis and osteoarthritis affect 31 per cent of Australians. The older you are, the higher your risk, with the majority of those affected over 64. Osteopath and spokesperson for the Australian Osteopathic Association Dr Jason Stone explains the difference between a healthy joint and an unhealthy one. “It all comes down to range of motion,” says Dr Stone. While, from a purely medical perspective, a healthy joint has well-maintained cartilage, whereas an unhealthy one is where the cartilage has worn down, in practice, the healthier the joint, the greater the range of motion. For instance, a scan might show perfect cartilage, but the patient can have a stiff joint and poor mobility due to tight muscles. In this case, Dr Stone says the joint health is considered poor. Similarly, a scan might reveal degenerative cartilage, but the patient has good mobility and little joint pain. This is considered a relatively healthy joint. “It all comes down to how well a joint is moving in comparison to its full potential range of motion,” explains Dr Stone. Limber up Joints equal movement, and the best way to keep them supple is to simply move more. “One of the things that can stiffen joints is repetition, such as sitting in the same spot for too long,” says Dr Stone. Being inactive is a risk factor for developing musculoskeletal conditions. Exercise, including resistance workouts, can help maintain bone health, while regular exercise can improve joint health by nourishing the all-important cartilage. “The more mobile you are, the less effort it takes to move,” says Dr Stone, and the best way to keep moving is with low-impact exercise such as Tai Chi and yoga, which improve joint health and increase flexibility, strength and HEALTH Know THE fEELing Maureen Myers is 58 years old and was diagnosed with arthritis in her knees in her early 40s. “To treat it I had physiotherapy sessions in the pool, where the physio manipulated my joints. It was really good. I also took fish oil, but I have always done that,” says Maureen. However, the pain and the arthritis gradually worsened and she ended up having a knee reconstruction when she was 56. “ I spent a week recovering in hospital, then a second week at a rehab centre where I did hydrotherapy and gym sessions to help build strength and encourage movement in my knee," she says. "For the following month, I continued with the intense hydrotherapy sessions three days a week. ” Maureen plans to have the other knee reconstructed within the next two years. Exercise, including resistance workouts, can help maintain bone health. 36 | www.probussouthpacific.org
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