Tai Chi as Fall Prevention

As you age, the ability to balance becomes more difficult, which is often why the elderly have frequent rates of falling. Without balance, you lose mobility, and your overall health suffers because the lack of balance leads to a lack of physical inactivity. This is why it’s so important to remain active at all age levels.


Any kind of physical activity is great and helps keep your body functioning well, but a recent study showed that there’s even a specific kind of exercise to aid with balance: Tai Chi.


Tai Chi, which is an ancient Chinese art, was originally used for self-defense purposes but has since developed into a form of exercise that has many benefits for reducing stress and improving balance. Although similar to yoga in that you move from pose to pose while breathing deeply, they are two entirely separate exercises and should not be confused for each other.


The research group found that the “Tai Ji Quan: Moving for Better Balance” intervention (Tai Ji Quan is another name for the practice) reduced falls by 58% when compared to just stretching. When compared with multimodal exercise intervention, fall rates reduced by 31%, according to Fuzhong Li, Ph.D., and colleagues in JAMA Internal Medicine.


The findings from Tai Ji Quan: Moving for Better Balance (TJQMBB) have a lot of practical application, the study reported. As an exercise that requires no equipment, is low-cost and does not require a particular amount of space, Tai Chi is accessible to groups of all incomes and abilities. It’s a simple way to improve lower-body strength and balance, as well as increase the amount of time you practice physical activity throughout the day.


This study, which focused on those ages 70 and up, also showed that it’s not too late to practice activities that reduce fall-related risks. As an added bonus, Tai Chi exercises the mind, too, which is another issue that seniors often face.


Of course, there is still much research to do, as the study covers a limited scope. Researchers share their study with the acknowledgment that they relied on the participants to report their falls, though they did review medical records and followed up monthly to ensure as much accuracy as possible. These results are also limited to participants who were able to travel to exercise classes and were primarily white, but overall, the study shows great promise in terms of giving the elderly an affordable option to help increase their balance abilities.


Originally published at MichaAbeles.com on September 13, 2018


These 3 Shoes May Be Contributing to Your Osteoarthritis

If you find your feet and calves are in pain after a long day at work, you may just shrug it off to spending too many hours standing. However, your feet and calves may be trying to tell you something — because that pain could be a sign of osteoarthritis. If you have the following three shoes in your closet, you may want to visit your doctor to check if you have osteoarthritis, because these shoes have been shown to contribute to the degenerative condition.

High Heels

Formally defined as any shoe higher than two inches, podiatrists and osteoarthritis experts agree that not only are these shoes bad for people with arthritis, but for anyone in general. “They’re hard on the arch and ball of the foot and can wear down joints,” says Bryan West, a podiatric surgeon based in Michigan.

Even more bad news for women who love their high heels, these shoes have actually shown to cause osteoarthritis. A study from a group of Stanford University scientists suggests that the strain of wearing high-heels of at least three-and-a-half inches can prematurely age knee joints and could contribute osteoarthritis.

Moral of the story — it’s best to leave those high heels on the sale rack and find a more comfortable shoe.

To see which other shoes can contribute to your osteoarthritis, check out Micha Abeles’ blog here.

Running is Good for Your Joints

According to a new scientific review from the Journal of Orthopedic & Sports Physical Therapy, researchers discovered that moderate levels of recreational running may support healthy knee and hip joints, reports an article from Time Magazine.

The researchers conducted a meta-analysis that combined data from 17 previous studies about recreational running and its effects on hip or knee arthritis, otherwise known as osteoarthritis (a.k.a., degenerative joint disease, or “wear-and-tear” arthritis). With a total of 114,829 people studied, the researchers found that only 3.5 percent of recreational runners developed osteoarthritis during their period of study. In addition, the researchers found that those who were not recreational runners had a 10.2 percent chance of developing osteoarthritis. This means that people who ran moderately had a lower chance of developing osteoarthritis than people who did not run at all.

In addition, a 2016 study conducted by Matt Seeley, Ph.D, associate professor of exercise science at Brigham Young University, found that running for 30 minutes reduced inflammatory proteins around the knee joint. He states that “running at a recreational level can be safely recommended as a general health exercise, with the evidence suggesting that it has benefits for hip and knee joint health.”

So, what does this mean for people with, or are susceptible to, osteoarthritis? To find out more, check out Micha Abeles’ website here.

Medicines May Help to Prevent Arthritis

Every year The European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR), which is an E.U.-based organization that represents the patient, healthcare professional and professional societies of rheumatology, holds the Annual European Congress of Rheumatology. This forum serves as a space where rheumatology professionals can connect with patient organizations, as well as to learn and engage with other professionals in rheumatology, all to achieve progress in the care of people who suffer from various autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.

This year’s conference took place in Madrid, Spain. Among the thousands of presentations, one scientific session that stood out to me (in my review of the gathering) was a meta-analysis conducted by Bruno Fautrel, MD, PhD, of the Departments of Epidemiology, Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology (from Pierre and Marie Curie University in Paris), and his colleagues. Their study suggests that the best way for patients with pre-rheumatoid arthritis to prevent a full onset of rheumatoid arthritis is to intervene with early therapy.

Patients who have pre-rheumatoid arthritis are at an important point in their medical care because this is the ideal time period to prevent full onset of rheumatoid arthritis. Patients and their providers should take into consideration contributing risk factors, such as smoking and obesity, and adjust their lifestyle accordingly. However, Fautrel and his colleagues conducted a meta-analysis of people with the disease and found that medical treatment could effectively prevent progression to rheumatoid arthritis.

To read more about the findings of this meta-analysis, visit Micha Abeles’ blog here.

About the Decision not to Take Osteoporosis Medications

Multiple factors contribute to the decision not to take osteoporosis medications, with fear of adverse events topping the list, say researchers in a paper published online in the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association.

In the study, researchers collected information about 790 participants in the Patient Activation After DXA Result Notification study who had received prescriptions for new or different osteoporosis medications after a dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry scan. Participants were interviewed at baseline and 12 and 52 weeks after their DXA scans, and researchers collected information such as patient demographics, health history, health habits, prior osteoporosis diagnosis or treatment, osteoporosis knowledge using the “Osteoporosis and You” scale, osteoporosis health beliefs, and osteoporosis self-efficacy.

Read the rest of this blog on Micha Abeles’ website here.

A Brief Background of Fencing

As a sport, fencing has been around as the art of sword dueling and self-defense since at least around the 1400s and finds its origin story in Spain. Fencing evolved from a military exercise to a sport in the 1700s as spearheaded by Domenico Angelo at his academy, Angelo’s School of Arms. There, Angelo’s family penned all the works on proper footwork, posture, attacks, and defenses in every blade to teach the aristocracy the fashionable new sport.

Today’s versions of fencing are every bit as passionate without quite as much blood, though. The International Fencing Federation (IFE) requires all fencers to dom multiple layers of protective clothing and equipment to ensure safety. In addition to the every stylish knickers, jackets, and masks, fencers are also required to wear a glove, plastron (underarm protector), breastplate, and lame to conduct electricity and determine touches.

Olympic fencing recognizes three blades, each of which has different historical purpose and thus different rules of play. Fencing has appeared at the Olympics starting in 1896 with the inclusion of the sabre, followed by the foil and lastly the epee.

The “starter” blade is the foil, a slender square blade with a compressible tip. Historically, foil fights were to the death, and as such, the “target area” for foil is only the area from waist to neck and inside the shoulders, and only a touch with the point of the blade scores a point. The rules for scoring a touch in foil are many and complex, but most of them boil down to who had the “right of way” to score.

The Epee is a much larger, heavier blade with a guard covering the hand and a compressible tip much like the foils. However, whereas a foil fight was to the death, Epee fights are only to first blood, and as such, the entire body, from the crown of the head to the soles of the shoes, is target area. Epee disregards the tedium of foil’s rules and awards a point to any touch, sometimes to both fencers in the match.

Lastly, the Sabre is the same weight as the foil but employs a slashing technique, as the whole blade is wired to score a touch, not just the tip. For sabre, any area from the waist up is considered target area. This blade is conducive to the quickest movements by the fencers, although similar “right of way” rules to foil apply.

Fencing is a great sport for players of any age. It requires agility, precision, and lightning-fast thinking. Because it’s not a contact sport, anyone can participate, whether you’re a college-aged pro or a grandparent beginner.

Micha Abeles was an all-Ivy League fencer while he was a student at Cornell University. While completing his MD at the State University of New York at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Micha coached the school’s fencing team.

Millennials are Already Getting Arthritis

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention determined that 54 million adults are diagnosed with arthritis, and not all of them are elderly as you would typically imagine. About 8 million millennials have been diagnosed with arthritis as well!

So what’s the cause of millennials getting diagnosed with this condition? It’s a combination of technology usage and excessive workouts that put too much use on their joints.

How Fibromyalgia Affects Your Sleep

Fibromyalgia is a rheumatic disease that causes muscle pain, stiffness, and fatigue. People with fibromyalgia commonly experience sleep problems, and a good night’s sleep is hard to come by for people who suffer from it. The pain makes sleeping difficult, and sleep deprivation makes the pain even worse. If you have fibromyalgia, here’s the scientific explanation of how and why the disease affects your sleep.

This blog post was originally featured on Micha Abeles’ website, michaabelesmd.com.

What Can Trigger a Raynaud’s Attack?

For those who have Raynaud’s disease, you may find that the blood vessels to your fingers and toes tend to overreact to certain situations by limiting blood flow — turning your fingers white or blue! The attack may only last a few minutes, but it leaves your extremities numb and throbbing.

This rheumatic phenomenon has doctors scratching their heads since there’s no known cause. However, there triggers out there that you can avoid to a few things make sure you don’t have an attack.

See the original post on Micha Abeles’ blog here