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.

Back Pain, Neck Pain, Stretching

Back Pain: Is it just Normal Aging?

I get this question all the time. What is interesting is how many doctors and therapists ask me the same question. It does seem like the older we get, the more back pain we endure. I remember when I was 49 years old getting ready for my 50th birthday, all my friends teased me about the amount of pain I would be feeling once I turned 50. Of course, these are the same friends that teased me about the same thing at 40 too. I remember thinking, if they are right, who wants to be 50. Why not just die before 50 and save yourself all that pain. Just kidding, but I did laugh at them at 55 when I said I was not going to sit wait for the pain they promised at 50. I am 59 and still no pain, but I am sure my friends will promise the same pain at 60 too.

The truth of the matter is, age has little to do with your back pain! Barring a trauma to your back, most back pain did not start as a back problem. Back pain and subsequent disc damage comes from your posture, how you walk, shoes you wear, and inflexibility of the hips and/or neck. Think about this for a moment. You back is made up of 26 vertebrae with disc in-between. These bones cannot apply pressure without the use of your muscles. Damage to discs and nerves is the result of muscle pressure, not a bone that moves on its own.

If you sit a lot, chances are the front of your thighs or the inner thighs will shorten and you will feel morning back stiffness or stiffness when you get up out of a chair. I always chuckle a little when I see people wearing an elastic back brace to support their back. Even if you use the brace to lift things properly and use your legs, back stiffness can still occur. This happens because the thigh muscles tighten from the lifting and the pain can show up in your back.

As a practitioner, we are all taught to focus on the symptoms and not the cause. First of all, most doctors don’t have the time and most therapists need to study the mechanical movements of the human body. So when your back hurts, the practitioners focus is on stopping the pain by drugs, braces, deep tissue massage on the back, or strength training. All of these can actually make it worse,long term.

The surprise thing about upper back pain is that it can be caused by the way you walk. When your ankles only bend to 90 degrees, you will likely lead with your head putting a lot of pressure on your mid back and neck. The front of thighs play a role in this as well. yet few people ever think to look at the ankles when dealing with a back pain patient. Your practitioner can only do what they are taught to do. Most are not trained this way. I know I was not initially.

Here are some things to think about if you are experiencing back pain. Does you back hurt more when you stand for long periods of time, walk for a little distance, or when getting up out of a chair or bed? Chances are, it is your thighs, front or inner, and not your back.

Does your back hurt if you sit too long and you feel a need to stand up to stop the pain? Chances are the back of your thighs and calves are too tight. If you neck and mid back hurt, check your stride, are your shoulders rounded in, or is your head leaning forward? usually the chest muscles are too short, the front of your neck is short, or your stride is too short and that sets off the chest and neck to cause the pain.

To learn more about what to do, go to http://www.musclerepairshop.com or my YouTube channel at The Muscle Repair Shop.

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?

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.