Back Pain, Neck Pain, Stiffness, Stretching

Who Else Wants to Travel Without Stiffness?

It’s summer time and most people take their vacations during the summer. The biggest issue is stiffness, whether you are flying long distances or driving across the country. Of course there are many gadgets designed to help your body travel better, but they rarely work. Even our cars with 10 way seats, heated/cooled, lumbar support, and whatever else that can be put on a seat for comfort, it seems to only help a few people. if you think about seats, airplane, train, or car, they are all the same size. Obviously each of us are different sizes. Some are tall, short, small. or large. Not to mention, everyone has different body lengths and leg lengths. This creates most of the discomfort when travelling. I am well over 6 feet tall with long legs, while my wife is mid 5 foot range with long legs as well. There is no way we can both sit in 2 seats that are identical and one of us not feel the discomfort. She has tried pillows for her low back and neck, but they can create a problem as well. Placing a pillow at your low back will cause your body to lean back over the pillow which will put a strain on your neck, and it does for her. Placing a pillow around your neck forces the neck forward which will shorten the front neck muscles. This will lead to tension at the base of your neck when you get out of the seat. My idea for the perfect seat is to have a seat back that can glide forward to accommodate people with any length legs which will take the strain off the low back because just raising the seat up is not enough. Have a back that can extend upwards to accommodate any length body to support the neck. Sadly, I have not seen a seat like that yet, but hopefully someone will soon invent one.

Until then, we can focus on preparing our bodies to endure the trip. Let’s begin with the neck. About every hour or so, lean slightly forward, rest your chin in the palm of your hands, and gently push your chin up towards the ceiling. The secret here is not to use your neck muscle on the back to lift your chin, only your hands. Only hold the stretch for 3-5 seconds and repeat 8-10 times while breathing out through the stretch. This will lengthen the muscles on the front side taking the pressure off the back side of your neck that can radiate down the middle of your back.

For the low back, bring a tennis ball in a sock. The tennis ball will be placed between a wall and your hips. You can also use the tennis ball on your upper back since you are already standing. Why not kill 2 birds with 1 stone! You are not rolling on the ball, but you are moving the ball around on your hip feeling for sore spots. When you find one, maintain the pressure, do not increase it, and breathe out as you relax the muscles beneath the ball. If driving in a car, plan a stop every 2-3 hours. I have done these at rest areas, restaurants, bathroom stalls, and even on the side of my car. If flying, I have done these on terminal walls, airplane bathrooms, and airport bathrooms too. Any place you can find a hard surface, this will work.

Once you get to your hotel room or home, there are stretches you can do to free your hips, calves, chest, and neck. You can see my videos at http://www.MuscelRepairShop.com or my Youtube channel- The Muscle Repair Shop. This will make travelling more enjoyable and will increase your energy level for more activities. isn’t that what we all want on vacation?

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Back Pain, Stiffness, Stretching

Here is a Technique that is helping Golfers Hit Better Shots!

Golf is a very humbling game and every golfer knows that. Many of my clients play golf, take golf lessons, and still complain of aches and pains along with a not-so-good golf game. Even after taking lessons, the #1 problem most of my clients complain about is back pain and not hitting the ball as well as they once did.

My client Bart loves to play golf and he plays 3-4 times per week. By the time he got to the back nine of his game, he would complain about back stiffness. His friend, Lee, and another one of my clients, referred Bart to me because he was tired of hearing Bart complain and he wanted to help his friend. Lee told me that Bart had bought expensive shoes, a back brace, was taking pain pills daily, and now was getting injections. Nothing seemed to work and it was affecting his golf game. The funny thing ,was when Lee told Bart I was a massage therapist, Bart, initially refused to come, because he had tried massage therapy before and it didn’t work. This is the usual story I hear daily and either most people just keep doing what is not working because a doctor recommends it or gives up their game.

The truth is, you don’t have to give up your game, or live in pain. Understanding how your body works in hitting a golf ball, will help you change your body to stop the pain. Every golf pro will tell you that when you hit the ball, rotate your body around your spine. Not twist your spine and power the hit with your arms. Yet most amateur golfers do just that. The power of the swing comes from the legs and it begins at the feet and most importantly, the ankles. Stand in your socks and go through your swing. Feel how your weight shifts across your feet as your body rotates through the swing. The shifting is allowed by the 4 calf muscles. The calf muscles control your feet from side to side and front to back. The calf muscles also work with the 3 hamstring muscles and inner thighs to rotate your hips. The flexibility in your calves, inner thighs, and hamstrings will decide how far you hit the ball.

Most people stretch their calves by standing on a slant board, step, or curb. This does not stretch all the calf muscles. It only stretches the Achilles tendon. Hamstring muscles are stretched as if they are only one muscle, plus without properly stretching the calves, you can never stretch the hamstrings. Learn how to stretch these muscles properly by going to my website at http://www.musclerepairshop.com. There you can learn how to stretch correctly to help your golf game. We offer 1-on-1 appointments or video appointments with videos to help your learn the right stretches. You can also visit my YouTube channel- The Muscle Repair Shop, and see videos to get a better understanding of stretching the right way.

Back Pain, Stretching

The Little Secret That Can Improve Golf or Tennis Swing!

Last weekend I was driving past a golf course, I saw several men place one of their clubs behind their neck and began twisting their upper body. Years ago when I played golf regularly as a teen, I remember seeing men doing the same thing. As I began learning about the mechanics of the human body, a lesson that I took with a golf pro kept coming back to me. This golf pro would line me up preparing to hit the ball. He would have my feet about shoulder width apart. knees slightly bent, and always told me to keep my head down so I would not top the ball. The last one was always the toughest for me and that probably kept me out of the PGA. Just kidding! What really stuck with me was, the pro telling me that when I rotate my body, keep my spine straight and rotate around the spine like it was a stick. So why do so many people continue to do the spine twist when the pros are telling us to remain straight in our spine?

When I took tennis lessons, my pro told me to pretend I was throwing the racket toward the ball and to generate the power from my legs. Which meant to start at my feet and rotate up through my thighs into my hips. I am not twisting my spine.

When I look at the human body from a mechanical view, I see the rotation of the body starting at our feet moving up through our thighs and rotates our pelvis. At no point do I see the spine twisting. Since most people don’t stretch their calves correctly and their thighs are very stiff, the power comes from the upper body which sets us up for low back pain, shoulder pain, and even rotator cuff injuries. For most people playing golf or tennis, how they swing the club or racket, will determine the amount of back injuries they sustain.

Most stretches we are taught will not improve our flexibility, but will make us less flexible. A great example is the calf stretch. How many of you stretch your calves by leaning against a wall with one foot behind the other? Or, do you stand on a slant board, curb, or step to stretch your calves? What you actually doing is stretching your Achilles tendon which is attached to your middle calf muscle, but it is in no way stretching your calves. To see a video on how to stretch the calves the correct way and to give you a quicker first step in tennis, go to my YouTube channel at The Muscle Repair Shop to see videos to stretch your calves.

elbow pain, wrist pain

Get Rid of Carpal Tunnel Once and For All!

My client, Emily, was totally frustrated with her carpal tunnel. She had been wearing a wrist brace for years after enduring 2 carpal tunnel surgeries. She thought that the surgery would fix her hand. Instead, the pain went from her hand to her elbow, which was diagnosed as cubital tunnel syndrome. Again, another surgery followed by a brace, and still there was pain. On her flight to Florida, she grabbed her suitcase and felt immense pain in her neck and shoulders. Her girlfriend referred her to me when she saw Emily in tears,mostly from the frustration and fear of not being able to use her arm.

Emily’s problem started in her hand and is still coming from her hand. Most of us have heard of carpal tunnel syndrome and understand there is a tunnel in our wrist area called the carpal tunnel. We have a total of 26 muscles in our forearms that run from our elbow to our fingers. These muscles allow us to open and close our hand. When we grip things, we are engaging the muscles on the bottom of our forearm which run through our carpal tunnel in our wrist and press on the median nerve which runs right next to these muscles.

Carpal tunnel is usually described as a result of repetitive actions like typing on a computer or cash register. However, it can be caused by gripping a steering wheel too tight, or a gold club or tennis racket. When travelling, gripping the suitcase handle can cause carpal tunnel syndrome as well. Doesn’t it sound ominous, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

Surgery does relieve the pain temporarily, however since you use your hands every day it will come back. That is why so many people wear the wrist braces. It is not a strength issue as described by many therapist and trainers. It has more to do with overuse and not knowing how to release the strain from the overuse. Which means once you know how to release the pressure, you can prevent the pain from coming back at all.

I n your forearm there are 26 muscles and 2 bones that run from your elbow to your wrist. From the wrist, there 5 muscles that continue through the carpal tunnel on the bottom of the wrist to each of your fingers. In that tunnel lays the median nerve and when pressure is applied to the nerve by the muscles,pain occurs in your hand and fingers. so how do you fix it?

Using your opposite hand, apply a little pressure to your forearm and feel for sore spots. Don’t squeeze hard thinking you are going to force it out. You will only make it worse. Apply just enough pressure to feel the sore spots. When you find one, it may hurt a lot at the beginning, if so, lighten the pressure a little, breathe out, and allow your brain to relax the muscle. Do this all over your forearm until the muscles feel softer than cotton candy. No matter how strong you are, your muscles should feel soft for more freedom of movement.

Next , make a light fist with the painful hand, bending at the elbow. Place the opposite hand over your fist and gently press down. Again, you are not going to force it down and if you try, you may make the pain worse. It is not, no pain, no gain here! Hold the stretch for 3-5 seconds and repeat 8-10 times. Breathe out each time and allow your brain the chance to relax the muscles. Finally, stand next to a table and place your painful hand palm down with the fingers pointing behind you. Gently lean into the wrist and feel the muscles in your forearm stretch. Hold for 3-5 seconds and repeat 8-10 times. You can do this 3-5 times a day. It will only take a few minutes each time, but it will keep it away.

We cannot stop doing everything we need to do to survive or have fun. Wearing a brace may stop the pain today, but it will cause the muscles to weaken and increase the pain later which will result in multiple surgeries. Who has time for that? Emily’s wrist pain stopped within 5 days and she has been pain free for the last 2 years without the brace. In fact she donated the brace to a friend.

To learn more about how to stop common aches and pains, subscribe to this blog or go to my website at http://www,musclerepairshop.com

I have videos at my YouTube channel, The Muscle Repair Shop, which are free to watch.

elbow pain, Stiffness

Here’s a Quick Way to Stop Elbow Tendonitis!

The other day I saw a young woman that loved to play tennis. She played several times a week, but was having trouble with her elbow. Like most tennis players she purchased a band that wraps around her forearm to try and stop the pain. Though it helped, the pain was still there enough to reduce her playing time. She even tried creams and lotions hoping to reduce the pain because friends had said it was probably inflamed. That didn’t really work either. I spent 2 sessions with her and taught her why her elbow hurt and how to stop the pain.

Elbow Tendonitis is actually a hand issue, though the pain is in the elbow. There are 26 muscles in you arm from the elbow to the fingers. There are 5 main muscles on each side that attach at the elbow and allow your hands to open and close. The harder you grip anything such as a tennis racket, golf club, or steering wheel, the tighter these muscle become and the more pain you will get in the elbow. The solution is pretty easy.

First , feel your forearms. If you cannot easily feel the 2 bones in your forearm, which you probably can’t and that is why you hurt. Using the opposite hand began gently pressing on your forearm and breathing out to allow the muscles to release. The pressure you apply will not release these muscles, it is your brain that will release them. Too many people, including therapists, believe that they can push the hardness out. This is not true/ In fact, the harder you push the worse it will get. The end result result should be a softer forearm, regardless of how strong you are. Hard bodies and buns of steel are not good for the human body.

Next, make a light fist with the hand of the arm with the tendonitis and push it down with the opposite hand bending at the wrist. Hold for 3-5 seconds and repeat 8-10 times. Each time you press down, breathe out and allow your brain to relax the muscles in the forearm. Finally, stand next to a table and place your palm down with your fingers pointing behind you. Then lean into that same hand to release the muscles on the inside of the forearm. Hold for 3-5 seconds and repeat 8-10 times.

Nothing is torn so braces are ineffective. The inflammation is a build up of lactic acid so creams are ineffective. Even though you feel weak, strength training will make it worse. Holding the stretch too long will make it tighter. Tight muscles will make you feel weak, apply pressure to you nerves and joints, and even affect your blood circulation system.

Chronic pain cost us more per year than heart disease and cancer combined. To reduce and/or stop the pain, we must change our minds about how to address the pain first. Once we look at our cause of pain, not the diagnosis, we can change our health.

Be sure to check out my videos at my YouTube channel, The Muscle Repair Shop or go to my website at http://www.MuscleReparShop.com.

Back Pain

The Secret to Stopping Low Back Pain!

Do you have to work to stand up every morning as you get out of bed? Usually, once you start walking, the pain will subside. How about when you get out of a chair after sitting for a while? Your low back can make you feel old? Or, what if you have to stand for a while? You feel the need to sit down to relieve your back pain. I have been there, done that!

In 2002 I was 42 years old and I felt all of those things. I just could not believe that I could be in that much pain. I was too young and too athletic to have my back disable me. I remember, at my worst, crawling out of my car onto my hands before I could stand up. That was crazy! Yes, I did exactly what everyone else did. I went to my doctor and she offered me some pills, then PT, then a back brace, especially when I was doing any activities. Finally, she said, if those didn’t help, surgery could be in my future. She certainly thought my back pain was here to stay for the rest of my life. I could not believe my ears. I had always been very strong. I was working out at the gym 3-5 days per week, running, and eating better that I ever had. I did all the things every professional had told me to do. I was mad!

Today, at 59 years old, I wake up with no pain. I work in my yard with no pain. I can do anything I want with NO PAIN! Want to know the secret? IT WAS NEVER MY BACK! You heard me right. I did have pain in my back. Every time I bent over and tried to stand up, there was pain in my back, but it was never MY BACK!

What I learned 15 years ago changed everything for me and I am sharing it with you today. I began studying the mechanics of the body and how the body balances from side to side and front to back. The muscles on one side will influence the muscles and bones on the other side. Next, I studied the relationship between my muscles and my bones. Believe or not, this stumps many doctors and therapists.The bones follow the muscles. This is scientific law, Wolff’s Law. Your muscles can, and will, apply pressure to your bones. You’ve heard of bone on bone in joints or compression of the vertebrae. This is a prime example of how the tension from the muscles literally wear out the bones and discs. Finally, I studied how the brain, mainly our emotions,and how it affects our muscles. Just a thought can create stress in our muscles which will make them contract as if we were lifting weights. When I put all that together, the secret to my back pain was right in front of me.

My back was hurting because the muscles on the front of my thighs and inner thighs were so tight from working out, working in my yard, and just moving through my life. When these muscles get tight they can shift the pelvis forward causing compression in my lower back. When I stood and gave them a moment, they would release partially which took the pressure off my back and I could move. Same thing happened when I sat too long. When standing, the pain in the back came from the muscles fatiguing while pulling against these muscles on the front that were short. Once I learned how to stretch them, I never had that problem again. The stretching we do at the gym or PT, will not work. I have developed a better stretching, Stretch n’ Release Technique that will teach you how to do it correctly.

How do you know if this is your back problem? If your back hurts when you stand up, you need pillows under your knees to ease the pain, back hurts after sitting. or when you get out of bed, you probably have the same issue. In my practice, 90% of my back pain clients have this same issue. Got to my video site at Youtube.com/themusclerepairshop/ to see videos of what I am talking about or you can go to http://www.musclerepairshop.trainerize.com and sign up to learn how to stop your back pain now!

Foot pain, Knee Pain

Is Walking on the Beach a Dream or Nightmare?

It’s vacation time and you are so excited! You are heading to a tropical location with the most beautiful beaches on the planet. You can feel the sun touching your skin while you walk barefoot on the beautiful white sand and hearing the waves crashing down. Add a margarita to the dream and it feels like paradise.

Walking on the beach is a great way to get exercise and can be great for your feet. If you are used to walking barefoot on any surface, walking on the beach can be awesome. However, if you never walk barefoot, or wear shoes most of the time, walking on the beach can be torture on your feet about day 2 of your vacation. This can ruin your dream vacation and none of us want that,

Wearing shoes, especially shoes with arch supports and heels on any height, can actually cause the muscle in your feet to atrophy. I know, I know, we have been told since birth that good shoes have arch supports and a heel because our feet need them. The truth of matter is, our feet would be fine without them. In fact, your feet would be better off without them. The more heel support you have, the more likely you will walk heel to toe which increases the impact on your heel every time you take a step.

To prevent your feet from ruining your vacation here a few things you can do to get ready for your beach walk.

1- Sitting in a chair, cross one leg over another. Use your thumb to soften the arch of your foot. Your foot should feel as soft and thin as your hand so it can grip the ground as you walk. If you cannot cross your legs, sit in a chair, place a golf ball under the arch of your feet. Use the ball to find sore spots on the bottom of your foot. Don’t just roll the ball around. Be deliberate and look for the sore spots. When you find one, don’t increase the pressure, just maintain the pressure, breathe out and mentally relax the arch. Next move on to the next spot.

2- Use your fingers to press and rub between your bones on top of your foot. Begin at the toes and slide up to your ankle. This frees up your feet to spread which will improve your balance and the ability to grip the ground. If you feel soreness, stop and maintain the pressure, breathe out, and mentally relax the muscle.

3- Sit on the floor with your back against the wall.If you cannot sit on the floor, sit in a hard back chair, no rocking chair, and place one foot on an ottoman. Place a yoga strap. belt, or rope around the ball of your foot. No elastic bands here because your will not get a good stretch. Make sure your back is 90 degrees to your leg as you began to pull your toes back toward you. Do not use your leg muscles, only your arms. Hold 3-5 seconds and repeat 8-10 times. Next rotate your foot inward and repeat the stretch. Finally rotate your foot outward and repeat again. This is the only calf stretch I have seen that will stretch all 4 calf muscles. This will prevent arch soreness, knee soreness, and back soreness when walking as you can extend your ankle beyond 90 degrees and use your toes to push off when walking.

Walking on the beach is a great way to relax, hear the surf rolling in, the birds, and feel the sun warming your body. The sand will improve the skin on your feet because it will exfoliate the feet and strengthen the muscles in your feet. Don;t make the same mistake I made. When you begin walking, remember, the distance your walk out, is the distance you must walk back. It seems so simple, but it is easy to forget and overwork your feet. Go out and have a fun day in paradise and enjoy the beach!