Why Men’s Health Physiotherapy Matters with Gerard Greene

Why Men’s Health Physiotherapy Matters with Gerard Greene

Why Men’s Health Physiotherapy in Ireland Matters

As part of our focus on #Movember and Men’s Health, we explore the developing role of Men’s Health Physiotherapy with friend of EVB, Gerard Greene. If you read the covers of health magazines aimed at men, you’d be forgiven for thinking that male health is all about abs and pecs and sex, sex, sex. Delve a little deeper and all is not well with the men of Ireland.

Why does Men’s health in Ireland matter? Here is why?

In Ireland

  • 5 times more males than females commit suicide
  • 1 in 7 men will get prostate cancer, 1 in 4 in men of African origin
  • Men are less likely to seek help for mental health problems, to access psychological services and are less likely to have a strong social support network.

Beyond the six-pack: here are some health tips for men and how Men’s Health Physiotherapy can help.

How can a Chartered Physiotherapist help?  

Chartered Physiotherapists in Ireland are movement and rehabilitation specialists and when you see one they “ Make every contact count” . They will ask you  “Are you ok”, including about cardiovascular health, bone health , mental health, general exercise, urinary function, erectile dysfunction, general health, diet, drugs, alcohol and smoking. We know that if the warning signs of serious illness are picked up early the treatment is far more successful. Men are not good at seeking medical help and Physios are playing a big role in asking “Are you ok”.

Bone Health

Weak or brittle bones (Osteoporosis) is not just a female problem – it affects men too. In fact, 2015 research pointed out that as many as one in four Irish men aged 50 or older will have at least one osteoporosis-related fracture in their lifetime. Ireland has one of the highest hip fracture rates in the World, and 1 in 3 men who sustain one will be dead within one year. Osteoporosis is treatable if it is picked up.

What to do? Two tips are to check your vitamin D status, and exercise! Weight-bearing exercise is great for bone health. And if you do discover your bone density has decreased, consult your physiotherapist about exercises that will strengthen muscles to protect vulnerable areas such as your spine, ribs, shoulders, wrists and hips.

Heart Disease

Heart disease and heart attack kill the biggest number of people in Ireland.

According to the Irish Heart Foundation “In Ireland 42% of men aged between 51 and 64 are obese and a further 44% are overweight. In this age group across the country right now only 14% of men are at a healthy weight”.  They add that “Carrying a little weight around your middle; Stress levels higher than normal; Dashboard dining and eating pizza and chips a little too often are big risks for a heart attack”.

They strongly advocate Irish men to “Listen to your heart, not your head” for whom cardiovascular disease, which includes heart disease and stroke, remains the leading cause of death. www.irishheart.ie 

Heart disease can be a silent killer.  A common story many of us hear is “He had this pain in his chest, but felt it would go away. He died that night.”

We’ve all heard stories like this. Men are notoriously doctor-shy .Pain in the chest or left arm, and that may radiate up into the jaw, always warrants an urgent trip to A&E.

Stroke is also a big killer of Irish men and To spot a Stroke act FAST

F : face drooping
A: arm weakness
S: Slurred speech
T: Spot these and it’s time to ring for urgent help.

People with Atrial Fibrillation are 5 times more likely to have a stroke and Irish Heart are encouraging us to “Feel the Pulse” . “The recommended normal heart rate is between 60 and 100 heartbeats per minute but some people can have heart rates over 100. And you should see your doctor if you have a persistent heart rate above 120 beats per minute or below 40 beats per minute”.

Physios are experts at treating people with heart disease and stroke but we prefer to also help men identify whether  they are at risk of these and advise them on what changes they can make. They can treat you but we’d rather not have to!

Prostate Cancer

In case you missed the figures above here they are again ! 1 in 7 Irish men will get prostate cancer and 1 in 4 men of African descent . The chances are higher if you have a family history of breast or prostate cancer. If you are over 40 you should be speaking to your doctor about this. Your Chartered Physiotherapist will also ask you. If you or a friend or relative has had surgery for Prostate cancer please get them to see a Men’s Health Physiotherapist  as they can help with the complications of urinary incontinence ( leaking urine ) and erectile dysfunction ( getting it up ). Our Irish physios are doing great work with these men and helping them get their lives back together.

Suicide is not painless

In Ireland suicide is painfully common and many of us reading this will have had personal experience of the pain and tragedy of losing a family member or friend. Irish men count for approximately 4 out of 5 suicides and it is particularly common in the Middle age years. Among the young 80% of suicides are male. Mental Health Ireland tells us that “For young people, bullying, family turmoil, mental health problems, unemployment and a family history of suicide can play a part in increasing the risk of suicide”. For older men “ poverty, poor quality housing, social isolation, depression and physical health problems are factors which can increase the risk of suicide”. Three-quarters of all people who end their own lives are not in contact with mental health services. www.mentalhealthireland.ie

Take action and get help if you are suffering from any kind of mental health problems – depression, anxiety, mood swings, post-traumatic stress.

Remember that regular daily exercise can be an effective way of dealing with mild symptoms of conditions such as depression.  If you embark on an exercise regime early on, it may be enough to stave off worse problems. But if your symptoms are serious, get help from a mental health professional urgently and avoid the risk of suicide. Your Chartered Physiotherapist can guide you on what may be suitable exercise or enjoyable activities for you to start with and can also pick up if you need more specialist help. Also remember to ask your male friends and relatives “ Are you ok “?

Bedroom Fitness: Are you struggling to get it up or is your man  struggling to get it up ?

As we get older our little friend also changes. Jo Millios EVB’s Men’s health Physio friend from Australia has coined the phrase “ Hard Health = heart health “. If your willy isn’t performing  it may be the 1st sign of some heart disease. Talk to your doctor and get it sorted before it’s a bigger problem.  Pain in the penis,  sensitivity in the penis  or pain after ejaculation ( cumming ) is common in men with pelvic pain and Men’s health physios can treat this and help you get back to normal. Pain or difficulty passing urine should be mentioned to your doctor as it may indicate a prostate problem. Keep an eye on your special friend as he is a good indicator of your general heath. Ireland is home to some world leading Men’s health Physios like Maeve Whelan www. milltownphysiotherapy.com who recently was featured in the Irish Independent linking the busy office life to erectile dysfunction!

Myth Busting about back Pain

Chartered  Physiotherapists are the experts in treating back pain. If you have back pain or leg pain (Sciatica) you should see a Physiotherapist . They will assess you and explain what is going on. What do Physios recommend for back pain?  Our Irish physios are skilled at exercise, hands on manual therapy and other specialist treatments. We know that exercise and activity is good so they will help with that. They know that doing more helps and will help you get back to work or playing with your kids or playing GAA, rugby or soccer  with your friends. Most back pain isn’t serious and you won’t need surgery or even a scan and your Physio is very skilled at explaining all of this. However, it’s good to see a Chartered Physiotherapist  early for back pain as it will help it from getting worse and ensure you stay as active as possible.

What is changing in Men’s Health  Physiotherapy in Ireland  ?  

The answer is lots of great stuff!  Although small in size Ireland has always played a big part in Global Physiotherapy. Currently the President of the World Congress is Dr Emma Stokes from Dublin. Ireland is home to many global leaders in Men’s Health Physiotherapy like Maeve Whelan from Milltown Physio and companies like ourselves are strong advocates for Men’s health.  We help thousands of women stay active and get back to activity by improving their pelvic health and pelvic floor function with our EVB shorts. However, many of our women may have partners, fathers, uncles, sons, friends or relatives who would benefit from seeing a Men’s health physio and we feel passionate about reaching and helping these men also. Check out www.iscp.ie on how to find a Men’s Health Physiotherapist.

Gerard Greene MCSP, MSc Physio. is originally from Blacklion , Co- Cavan and is now a Birmingham  based Men’s health Physio. Having trained in Trinity College Dublin he is a passionate advocate for Men’s health physiotherapy and shares EVB’s passion for pelvic health.

Twitter : @gerardgreenephy


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