hand pain, Uncategorized, wrist pain

Are you Losing your Grip?

Do you find that the older you get the weaker your grip becomes? Think it is just because you are older? Do you think something is wrong or are you trying to increase the strength in your hands with little to no improvement? Don’t feel frustrated as many people 40 and over have come to see me after trying everything. The secret is, it may not be a strength issue. Instead it could be a tightness issue in various parts of your hand and arm. This tightness can make you feel weak and when you express your thoughts about it, most therapists will start strength training plans to help you. For the short term, it may help, but in the long term it can have a detrimental affect.

Strength training your hands is very easy. Take a rubber band and wrap it around each finger and thumb. Practice spreading your fingers in all directions until they fatigue. rest for 2 minutes and then do it again. You can also take a tennis ball and practice squeezing it. Hold each squeeze as long as you can. As you are holding, count until your hand lets go, then try to beat that time when you practice again. These you can do anytime and anywhere which makes them perfect for the busy person. If you go to a gym, you can use grip machines and dumb bells to strengthen your hands and forearms. Never forget, that when you strengthen any muscles you will make them tighter. This tightness can work against you. Think of a body builder that is too stiff to move.

Sometimes the weakness can come from your muscles being to tight and there are steps you can take to reduce the tightness anywhere, anytime. You do this one at the office, sitting in meetings, or hanging with friends. You can do it sitting or standing, whichever works for you. Place the palms of your hands together with each finger and thumb mirroring the opposite hand. Make the palms are touching.Now use the right hand to press down on the left hand to make the left wrist bend backwards, Hold for 3-5 seconds and reverse to stretch the right wrist. You can do these 8-10 times each way. Next take the left hand, using the thumb and index finger to squeeze between the right thumb and index in that v-shaped area. Squeeze just hard enough to feel the soreness, breathe out and let the muscle relax. Too hard and you cannot breathe out. Too little and there is no effect. Do this until the pain stops then move to another part of that area. You can even do this at the base of the thumb to the wrist. Then move to rubbing between the bones of the fingers to soften the entire hand. Make sure you do both hands and not just the one that hurts. You can stretch each finger back, one at a time. Optimally, each finger should go back up to 90 degrees to the hand.Start slow and work your way up to there, if you can’t do it yet. You can stretch the thumb as well. Place the fingers of the left hand around the thumb of the right hand. Place the left thumb at the base of the right thumb. Your left thumb is acting like a brace. Gently pull the right thumb back with the left hand stretching out the webbing of the right hand. If you feeling any stiffness at the base of the thumb, this one is perfect! There are more videos of these stretches on my YouTube Channel, The Muscle Repair Shop.if you have any questions you can contact me at butch@musclerepairshop.com. Youc an visit my website at http://www.musclerepairshop.com.

leg pain, Uncategorized

Sciatica, the most misdiagnosed ailment!

Sciatica doesn’t happen as often as you may think. Anytime someone has a pain running down their leg, they may assume it is sciatica and even their doctor may make the wrong assumption. Actual Sciatica is the pinching of the vertebrae in the low spine and here in lies our first mistake. Most people that have surgery for sciatica have a low success rate because it has little to do with the vertebrae and more to do with the muscles around the bones. So what is it that most people is sciatica?

Several things can cause the pain running down your leg. First if it is on the outside of the leg it could be an outside band called the( IT) Illiotibialtrack band which runs from the hip joint to the lower half of the knee. Above it is the( TFL), Tensor Fascia Latta, which runs from the hip joint up to the top of the pelvis. Below the knee are the 3 Peroneus muscles that run from the knee to the toes. Anyone one, two, or three of these can cause pain running down the outside of the leg. This typically what I see from clients that have suffered for months while visiting a doctor or therapist. If the pain runs down the inside it could be one of the 4 inner thigh muscles that run from the pubic bone of the pelvis to the lower half of the knee. Below that is the Plantaris muscle that runs from the knee to the arch. I rarely see this one, but it does happen. Lastly, you may feel down both sides and that would be a combination of the 2 above or the quadricep muscles, on the front of the thighs, pulling the pelvis forward causing compression on the lower spine pinching the sciatic nerves.

Typical treatments include injections, braces, pills, and even surgery. These treatments are just to stop the pain for the moment. Unfortunately, my just stopping the pain momentarily, you may run the risk of more permanent injuries down the road that could slow your life down. When I get my clients they are usually very frustrated and hopeless thinking it can never get better.

All of these can be stopped in few days to couple of weeks with a yoga strap and your hands. I have the videos on my YouTube channel, The Muscle Repair Shop or my website, http://www.musclerepairshop.com. If you are willing to do the work I can teach you how to get rid of it forever. This is a team effort between you and I.

Stiffness, Stretching, Uncategorized

Why are Muscles so Hard to Understand?

Most people would say that they know what to do for muscle pain. They would take an over the counter pain pill, heating pad, ice pack, or Ace bandage. If that didn’t stop the pain, they would seek a doctor who would shoot an X ray or MRI. If that showed nothing broken or torn, the doctor would refer you to Physical Therapy. Physical Therapy would do strength training with traditional stretching. Once your insurance runs out, you may go to a trainer at the gym, who again will do strength training with traditional stretching. Finally, if it is still is nagging you, you go back to the doctor that may put you n a brace with some pain pills or muscle relaxers to take when it flairs up. We have all been on this treadmill at some point in our lives. Usually at the end we are told it has to do with our age and we just stop doing anything that causes pain.

The problem here is, the people that should be knowledgeable of muscle pain are not really trained in finding the causes, just stopping the symptoms. The cynic in me says, it is a good money maker, but the realist in me says, they just don’t know! You cannot blame people for what they have not been trained to do for pain. Frankly, I have been surprised to learn how little , as a society, we understand about muscles. Yes, we all have been taught how to strengthen our muscles to make them bigger,faster, and stronger. However, chronic pain is more about the relationship between the muscles and the bones, and the muscles and the brain.

Our muscles are far more emotional than they are physical. In fact, the physical side of our muscles is more affected by our emotions that physical activity. Our brain is designed to protect us 100% of the time. Our brain is in total control of our muscles to make sure we do not hurt ourselves. Otherwise, our brain may say, there is a cliff ahead, please stop walking and our legs would say “screw that, we are walking.” Not a good outcome, right?

Stretching properly is very meditative. Like meditation, we focus on our breath to calm our brain. In stretching, focusing on feeling the muscle we are stretching relax and release is key as well. You cannot think of what happen and hour ago or what will happen an hour from now. You cannot listen to fast paced music or focus on a recorded book. You certainly cannot focus on the news while trying to stretch. When the brain focuses on letting the muscle go, the muscle will release. This takes the pressure off the joints, nerves, and discs. Too much pressure and the brain will fight you. Even in deep tissue massage, without the patient breathing and releasing the muscles, the patient is fighting and the therapist will injure their hands.

Stretching is more like eating than strength training. If you wake and eat breakfast at 8 am and do not eat all day, you will be hungry and you know why. If you wake up and stretch at 8 am and don’t do little stretches throughout the day you will tight again. Every movement you make causes your muscles to tighten and there is nothing you can do but stretch. It is as natural as your body getting hungry. The stretching we are taught at school, gyms, and even PT are more strength training than stretching and that will make the pain lasts longer. Check out my videos on my YouTube page, The Muscle Repair Shop or my website, http://www.musclerepairshop.com to learn how to stretch to stop your aches and pains and enjoy your life!

Back Pain, Foot pain, Neck Pain, Shoulder pain, Stiffness, Stretching

Your Feet can Cause Back Pain!

Just last week I had a new client come in with neck and shoulder pain. He was an older man in decent shape. He had visited several doctors and had been to physical therapy with no luck in relief. I examined him and found that his neck, shoulders, and chest muscles were soft. His range of motion was good with no restrictions. He said that everybody had worked only on his upper body. Some offered braces, injections, and strength training exercises to alleviate the pain. I could not see anything that could possibly cause him discomfort in his neck and shoulders. Then an idea hit me to look at his lower body, especially his feet and ankles. Oh my gosh, his hips, legs, and feet were hard as a rock. He had very limited range of motion in all his lower joints. He thought it was just old age that was causing his pain, when in reality, it was lack of movement and shoes.

We have historically told each other that as we age, we should slow down. The truth if the matter is, we should speed up. Sitting during the day caused this man to tighten the front of his thighs and the inner thighs. The shoes he was told to wear prevented his feet from actually working properly and his gait prevented his calf muscles from elongating properly. Sitting in a recliner may feel good, but they are the worst thing for older people to sit in. First, sitting causes the front of the thighs and inner thighs to shorten which will cause the pelvis to tilt forward when they stand. The muscles in the stomach will atrophy and shorten which will pull the upper body forward adding to the the low back stiffness originally caused by the thighs. This is a main reason why so many old people walk bent over. We blame it on arthritis, but in my practice, I find that tight muscles cause the bent over walk more than anything else. Lastly, reclined back in the chair, car seats will do the same, causes the muscles on front of the neck and the chest muscles to shorten which can lead to the hump back look. Next time you see someone reclined back in a chair watching TV, look at the angles of their body while reclined. Then when they stand up, most times you will see the same angles in the standing position as they had in the reclined position. For that person to stand up straight, it takes too much muscle contraction on the back side which can lead to compression on the discs and nerves. The scary part is , many people sleep all night in their recliner because their body is so stiff, it hurts to lay flat. The more you sit in a recliner, the worse your body will feel when you stand.

The calves and feet are greatly affected by the shoes we wear and the length of our gait. You will hear me say over and over, 99% of all the people have never stretched their calves properly. That is a bold statement, I know, but we have 4 calf muscles and when you watch people stretch their calves they typically use the standard calf stretch you learn in the gym. The problem here is, that is an Achilles tendon stretch and does not address any of the 4 calf muscles. So learning how to stretch the calves properly will increase the range of motion in the ankles which will lengthen your stride and , believe it or not, relieve your neck and upper back pain. The shorter your stride, the more you will lead with your nose when you walk. This will cause mid back pain and neck stiffness.

The shoes are another story. Most clients I see, have muscles in their that have atrophied from years of wearing shoes with arch supports, heel supports, and thick soles. These things were designed to stop immediate pain, but will affect your whole body long term. The arch of your foot is suppose to take the impact every time your feet hit the ground. This protect your knees and hips. The impact can be up to 10 times your body weight. We have all been told we should walk heel to toe, right? the heel supports causes us to walk that way and that sends the impact up through your bones with every step. We should step on the whole foot with most of the impact right behind the ball of your feet. Finally, thick sole shoes do feel comfy, but your have 272 nerves on the bottom of your feet which tell your brain when the level of the ground changes so you won’t fall down. If the sole of your shoes are too thick, the brain has no way of preventing you from falling down. The problem is, we have worn these shoes that were designed for immediate relief and now out feet are too weak to just go cold turkey and change. We have to work at building up the stamina and strength in our feet so we can walk like we were designed to do.

It is work to change all of these things s, so don’t do it all at the same time. Take it step by step. You are welcome to view my videos on YouTube at, The Muscle Repair Shop, or contact me at https://www.musclerepairshop.com. I can help you improve your gait and posture to stop the nagging aches and pains that plague so many older people. Aches and pains are not just age related, it is bad mechanics and frankly, most practitioners are either not trained in body mechanics or they just don’t have the time to help you. You can help yourself stop the pain.

Back Pain, Neck Pain, Stiffness, Uncategorized

Now You Can Improve Your Movement Regardless of your Age!

It has been another great week working on people of all ages, but the most interesting clients I see are the ones over 80-95 years old and are still kicking it in high gear. How many times have you heard people say, well at your age you need to slow down or maybe you have said it to yourself thinking that your age has a lot to do with your aches and pains. Not long ago I spoke with a doctor and his reaction was surprising as he said that he seems to only see sick people where I see healthy people. So what is the difference, genes, habits, or just plain luck. It could be any or all of them, but it is not their age. The doctor’s patients are the same age as mine, yet they bodies are crippled and in pain.

I love talking to my older clients about their lifestyles and thought processes as they continue to age beyond where most people think they should be sitting in a recliner. The first thing is, they all will tell you the recliner will kill you. I was at a furniture store the other day and they have recliners with cup holders, remote holders, trays for pen and paper, and now they have USB ports for the laptop or Ipad. What is next, an arm to bring you coffee or a mixed drink? Watch a person that sits in a recliner a lot, especially when they stand. The first thing you will notice is the stiffness in their low back. Usually they have head forward posture and their belly starts to grow because they are not moving. The sad truth is, most of these people have been led to believe they should not move for fear of hurting themselves. This talk usually comes from their peers or self talk.

There are a few of the commonalities amongst my clients who are 80+ in age. They always have a plan for tomorrow. There is always a project going on, no matter how physical it is. They are committed to a healthy diet. Lastly, they use their minds to solve problems and design new ideas, no matter their age they never stop learning.

One of oldest clients plays tennis twice a week and runs his own cattle ranch whcih he started at 87. Imagine that, when most people are afraid to walk too far, this man started a small cattle ranch, built a new house, a hydroponic vegetable farm, and plays tennis twice a week. He will soon be 90 years old.

Another client of mine rides a bike on 50-100 mile trips weekly to monthly at a speed of around 20 mile per hour. The amazing thing is this client broke his pelvis in a bike accident less than a year ago. Today that client is back on the bike riding stronger than ever. Not bad for a 70 year old.

I have many stories to share, but the important thing to remember is these people never stop moving. They don’t act like they are 70, 80, or even 90 years old. They all exercise regularly, they learn how to stretch correctly from me. eat well every day, not just to lose a few pounds, and they have control of their minds. Each of these people have made a commitment to always eating healthy, working out without excuses, and focus their minds in a positive direction no matter what. You can have that same life at their ages but you have to commit to preparing your body for aging. What you do, eat, and think when you are young can influence how well you will age. Bad habits like drinking a lot, smoking, doing dangerous activities, and not focusing your mind in the right direction can be a bad recipe for your old age.

This is called taking control of your health and not just let it happen to you as if you had nothing to do with it. Out health care system is filled with people who are hoping and praying that someone will come up with a pill to solve their problem. A problem they most likely created because they did not know any better. With all the knowledge we have today, we need to get up out of that recliner and get on the computer, ask people who know, and make the commitment to improve your life forever. While there is no guarantee, at least if you do get sick, your body will be in a better place to recover faster and save you from multiple symptoms happening at one time. The side benefit is, you can give your recliner to a charity. In fact, let’s start a program that will overwhelm places like Good WIll, Habitat, or Salvation Army with recliners. If you are interested, leave your comments below.

Back Pain, elbow pain, hand pain, Knee Pain, Shoulder pain

Are Household Chores Killing Your Body?

Sorry, I have been away for a little while, but my wife and I have had our house totally re-modeled which required us to move out for two months. Oh, we also took a flight to Paris i the middle of all this too! I mentioned that in my last post. Anyway, we have been helping our contractors do some of the work and that can be harder than any workout. Of course, I spent time watching the people work visualizing the muscles that actually allowed them to do what they did. I told you , I am a muscle nerd!

Let’s start with the electrician. Our electrician had to bend her body in ways that would probably cripple most people not used to doing it. Crawling under cabinets on her back, sitting on the floor reaching around and through the walls, up on a ladder, working overhead, and the rotating of her hands to connect the wires together. The plumber made very similar movements without the ladder. Instead of working with small wires, he was working with larger pipes, but it was the same movement. Our carpenter and drywaller, the same guy, did all those thing as well, but for longer periods of time. For instance, he was on a scaffold scraping popcorn off the ceiling, replacing drywall to fix the holes left from changing fixtures, texturing the ceiling, and finally painting it. The tile guy was on his knees continuously while stretching forward to left and place large square tiles. He also had to use his shoulders to wipe across the tiles over and over as he laid the grout.All of these jobs required them to be in positions, most are rarely in. This will lead to back pain, neck pain, and fatigue.

Let’s look at these positions and think about your own body when you do these for much shorter periods of time. The climbing up a ladder and working overhead. Some of you may have do this when you are trimming tall bushes or short trees. Maybe you have painted a ceiling that left you sore. Going up and down a ladder will cause the rotating muscles in your hips to tighten as well as the quads, front of your thighs, to tighten as they left your entire body weight up each step. This can lead to low back stiffness by the end of the day. While standing on the ladder, looking overhead, they will tighten their back muscles from their pelvis to their neck, but what is forgotten is, the abdominal muscles must tighten too to stabilize your balance so they won’t fall. This cause compression on the spine from top to bottom.

Working on their knees is very similar to you gardening. First off, most of the contractors use knee pads to soften the pressure on their knee caps which will damage their knee joints. You, too, should always use a knee pad even if you are on the dirt which is softer. On top of the knee pressure from the knee caps, is the pressure on the knees from the the front of your thighs. These muscles attach below the knee cap which adds additional pressure on the knee joint, plus the upper part of the thigh will fatigue and pull your pelvis forward causing low back stiffness as well.

Working with their hands twisting wires or tightening pipes together can cause elbow tendinitis, wrist tendinitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, or arthritis in those joints. Why? The twisting of the hands is created by the two bones in your forearm. there are five muscles on top of the forearm that allow to open your hand, five muscles on the bottom that allow you to close your hand and muscles in-between the two bones that allow you to rotate your hand. The gripping of the hand causes these muscles to tighten and get hard. This hardness pulls the joints closer together causes the joint to lose its lubrication and pain occurs. The rotation also increases the hardness which causes the wrist bones to lose their lubrication and increase the pressure on the median nerve in the carpal tunnel of the wrist setting off carpal tunnel syndrome. Arthritis is simply the drying out of the joint and we will discuss that in a later post.

I am always amazed at how many contractors complain about their pain and yet do very little to prepare themselves for the job at hand. Many people do not know how to prepare for yard work or house work. We all seem to just go out and do it, then we are surprised we hurt. Can you imagine a football player not preparing for one game on Sunday, then being surprised if he gets injured. These players are preparing all week and still get injuries, imagine if they did not prepare at all. To properly prepare we must understand which muscles we will be using. I don’t mean anatomically, but feel which part of your body is being used in the movements you are doing. In future posts, I will be discussing how to prepare for our chores in the house and outside of the house. These little preparations will allow you to finish your chores and have the luxury of admiring your work without sitting on a heating pad or taking pain killers for days.

Back Pain, Neck Pain, Stretching, Uncategorized

Get Rid of Airplane Stiffness Once and For All!

I have just returned from the “City of Love,” Paris, France. It was amazing and the people there were so much fun. Of course the food was spectacular. The toughest thing about going to Paris is the flight to and from Paris. it was 8.r hours there and 9.5 hours back. Luckily the plane we flew on was the awesome Boeing 787 which made the flight better, but for most people sitting that long can be hard on their body. Their back or neck will usually stiffen up and it can ruin a great vacation, even in Paris. Unfortunately, just a massage will not solve your problem and of course drugs are just a temporary thing. The stiffness is still there just waiting for the drugs to wear off. You must prepare for the flight before you get on the plane and after you get off.

I worked on stretching the rotation muscles in my hips and quads( front of my thighs). This would prevent low back pain when I stand up. Some of you will use stretchy back braces or sleep with a pillow under your knees to relieve the pain. The back brace really doesn’t work because the cause of your pain is on the front side of your body. The pillows under your knees is a clear sign that by shortening your quads, it takes the pressure off your low back. I also stretched my inner thighs to prevent low back pain. Again the front of my body will cause pain on the back side of my body.

I stretched my calves to prevent leg and foot cramps. Most people think by taking a drug or wearing special socks will help. Again, it is just masking the cause. I stretched my neck and chest because sitting in the seat forces my head forward which will cause my chest to narrow. The pain will show up on the back side of my neck and upper back, but the cause is on the front side. I arrived in Paris pain free, and walked all over Paris in my Merrell Vapor Glove 3 shoes with no foot and leg pain, no back pain, and no neck and shoulder pain. Got back on the plane flew back to the states and still no pain anywhere.

The secret to the stretching is knowing how to stretch correctly. 99% of people, including professionals have not clue how to stretch the body. I know this sounds a little arrogant, but I have tried many different types of stretching looking for alternatives and I have yet to find one that actually stretches the body. I know some of you are thinking, what about yoga. There are some yoga techniques that have an element of stretching to it, but the way it is taught in the United States is strength training which will tighten the body. I just went to a 2 day yoga seminar and listened to the instructor talking about how his techniques were stretching the body, yet 90% of the people in the room could not get into the poses he was teaching and the poses took a tremendous amount of strength to get into and hold. There was no stretching in any of the poses. It may look like you are stretching one side by tightening the other, but the truth is, the supposed stretched side needs to stabilize the contracted side to maintain balance. Therefore your are not stretching at all.

Check out my free videos on my YouTube channel, The Muscle Repair Shop, or contact me at musclerepairshop.com for help in stretching the correct way so you can stay pain free.