Muscle Mass…When do we start to lose it?

Dr. Duane Paterson of Universal Chiropractic & Functional Rehabilitation in Elk Grove, CA, also known by his colleagues and friends as “Dr. P.” Dr. Paterson is a Doctor of Chiropractic and a Certified Performance Enhancement Specialist through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. Also he’s the Strength and Conditioning Coach for Franklin High School in Elk Grove.

Dr. Paterson is a former construction worker and while working on the railway, he sustained an injury to his back and neck. After experiencing pain that wouldn’t subside and with the advice of his father, he reluctantly decided to seek chiropractic services. Upon his experience, and the encouragement of those treating him, he decided to seek a career as a chiropractor.

When asked, “At what age do we start to lose muscle mass?” According to Dr. Paterson, at the age of 25 when most of us feel invincible we’re actually losing muscle mass. Research has shown between the ages of 25-50 we could lose up to 15 percent of our muscle mass naturally. From age 50 on, the decline can become quick and we can lose up to 30 percent of our muscle mass, for a total of 45 percent loss of muscle mass. It’s one of those processes that is very insidious; otherwise it’s very slow, so we’re not aware that it’s going on until one day we realize, “We’re unable to get out of this chair, we’re having trouble getting up the stairs and we try to figure out, “When and how did this happen?” It happens slowly, over a period of time and then it reaches a level when you start to notice the decline.

This is what Dr. Paterson does when he has a patient that complains of hip pain. He administers the chair squat test. This allows him to see if the patient can get out of the chair without using their arms or swaying their body (leaning your body forward to get up.) If they can’t perform this test, then he knows they have some level of muscle loss and the medical term for this condition is called Sarcopenia. Dr. Paterson stated, “In the 10 years he’s conducted workshops, unless the individual is associated with the medical community they had never heard of Sarcopenia.“ According to Dr. Paterson, the interesting thing about Sarcopenia it affects all us, none of us can escape it – we all have a natural amount of muscle loss as we age. This condition costs the health care system approximately $18 billion a year to treat. What we see from Sarcopenia is this; it’s the number one reason for early disability in seniors. It leads to their inability to get up from a chair, get out of a vehicle, or climb stairs. It also contributes to instability, because they don’t have the strength to recover so it contributes to falls. We know that the loss of muscle mass decreases the amount of protein available to our immune system, so our immune system becomes suppressed. Due to the loss of muscle mass, we’re unable to maintain our body temperature, so we get cold easily. There are other symptoms that occur, but these are some of the main things that surface. Loss of muscle mass actually contributes to osteoporosis because we don’t move and as we become weaker, we don’t move as much and that contributes to the loss of bone.

According to Dr. Paterson, the amazing thing about this condition, it’s very, very easily fixed – without medicine, without a trip to the doctor, but with the right coaching and the right exercise techniques.

According to Dr. Paterson, studies have been conducted on individuals who were over 80 years old who were experiencing significant muscle loss and the inability to move. The seniors were placed on a twelve week weight lifting regimen. You can imagine the small measure of weight suitable for someone 80 years old. It’s a very light amount. At the end of the twelve weeks, they measured most of the people in the study at a 30 percent increase in muscle mass. There was also a 30 percent increase in strength. The most amazing part of that study found that when you reach a certain level of muscle loss your body metabolically will quit using protein to build muscle, so it doesn’t matter how much protein you eat at that point your body won’t take it in. When the individuals in the study started lifting weights and had a need for the protein, their protein uptake in their muscles measured 182 percent. Dr. Paterson stated, I’ve had individuals say to me, “Am I too old to lift weights.” I’d tell them, “You’re never too old to lift weights, but you need to start at the level that you can. Dr. Paterson stated, “So the whole point is to get people to start doing exercise to increase their muscle mass to prevent this from happening to them. We start people at every age level. We have 80 year olds that come in for treatment and we start them on very simple weight lifting and squatting techniques to help to increase their muscle mass and it does make a big difference for them.

Dr. Paterson stated, “We have seniors who come in for treatment who are experiencing hip problems, who can’t even get out of a chair. We work with them for a period of time and eight to twelve weeks later they’re getting out of the chair, their balance is better, they feel more energized and they are a lot stronger. According to Dr. Paterson, an elderly patient’s fear of falling and ending up in the hospital is their primary motivation for participating in the exercise programs.

Studies have shown the number one reason for early death in seniors is an accidental fall. A senior citizen has a greater chance of death from a fall where a hip is broken, than from a diagnosis of cancer or heart disease. That is a statistic that should make all of us take notice – for ourselves as well as for an aging loved one. A broken hip is a big deal…

For more information about Dr. Duane Paterson and Universal Chiropractic & Functional Rehabilitation you can visit their website, or you can contact them at 916-683-3900.

This entry was posted in chiropractor, health, injury, Muscle mass, pain, protein, strength, weights. Bookmark the permalink.

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