Robin’s synopsis of MEEKS METHOD and ALIGNMENT with Sara Meeks
Sara Meeks is a physical therapist, yoga instructor and APTA certified Geriatric specialist, with expertise in the management of osteoporosis and spinal disorders. She is co-creator of Osteoporosis Canada’s BoneFit program.
LIFE AFTER FRACTURE
Sara Meeks wants to dispel the myth about your future after a spinal compression fracture, emphasizing what you can do versus limitations.
Her treatment for someone with a fracture is to initially use isometric exercise for re-alignment to strengthen the muscles of the neck, spine, and legs along with electrical stimulation to the back muscles. For acute fractures, she teaches people to “log roll” to safely move in bed.
Her site-specific exercises are for the spinal extensors, muscles that go from the base of the skull to the tailbone, that keep you upright; the hip stabilizers on the side of the hip, the medial glute; the abdominals, and the diaphragm.
Sara emphasized that because we often develop bad habits and there are exercises that are contraindicated for osteoporosis, you should not self-select your own exercise program. In addition, although high-velocity training is needed for bone, these activities are not always safe for the older population.
Sara also differentiated between weight-bearing exercise, needed for osteoporosis, and weight training. Weight-bearing activities, done either standing or on all fours, must have ground forces coming up through the feet or arms. Using equipment for strength training does not fit these criteria.
Using a belly breath, Sara teaches people how to use their diaphragm by placing their hand or a lightweight object, like a cell phone, on the abdomen. Then exhaling, by pulling the navel to the spine and holding for 2-3 seconds, you can strengthen your abdominal muscles isometrically, with no spinal movement. This avoids rounding of the back.
Avoid rounding the back -No crunches or bending to touch your toes!
Sara assumes all her patients have osteoporosis so they learn alignment and are safe with exercise.
As we move in our areas of greatest flexibility, many activities like golf, tennis, and bowling, can lead to repetitive strain injuries. A Spinomed brace is something that people can use during these types of activities for support.
Since up to 80% of spinal fractures are silent, learning movement patterns that avoid those that put you at risk is important.
Learn proper alignment, not just as an exercise, but for all activities of daily living. Be aware of how you bend over to pick something up from the floor, get in and out of the car, or carry your groceries. Sara calls this Embodiment of Movement to help people modify how they move and remove the fear of falls and fractures.
Sara believes that most people, after being given a diagnosis of osteoporosis, go through the stages that Dr. Kubler Ross identified around Death and Dying:
Denial, Frustration, Anger, Acceptance
Once people reach the acceptance stage, they can make changes to impact their future.
Body Mind Connection for Alignment
Feather Fontanelle Exercise: In standing, align your hips over your feet, have your weight slightly back over your heels, place a hand over your head with a touch that is as light as a feather, and press into your feet as you reach your head into your hands.
This can also be done sitting or lying down. If in bed, you can try to push a pillow away from the top of your head or towards a headboard.
Sara emphasized that after a diagnosis, little advice is given by most physicians and patients go into fear. Seek out additional information and find someone who can help you whether you are on medication or not.
My solution for creating new habits:
Start small, do it in community, and/or have an accountability partner!