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.

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!

Back Pain

The 5 Worst Low Back Treatments and Why

80% of all Americans will suffer back pain at some point in the lives and it is the #1 reason people visit their doctor. So why are so many people suffering from back pain and why can’t we stop it? The truth is we are treating the wrong part of the body. Rarely is low back pain a back issue. I have listed the 5 of the worst mistakes in treating low back pain and I will discuss why after each bullet point.

The 5 worst low back treatments are:

1Strength training your back and/or stomach. The idea here is the pain is due to muscle weakness and if we can make the muscles stronger in the stomach and back, we can stop the pain. The truth is, your back pain is coming from the front side of your body. The front of your thighs, inner thigh, and hip flexors cause more low back pain then anything else. In fact, just ignoring it or only doing short-term fixes can lead to bulging discs, herniated discs, or pinched nerves.

2Sitting for long periods of time or doing nothing. Most people sit a lot during their day whether at work or relaxing at home. The body in a seated position shortens the front of thigh, inner thighs, and hip flexors. These muscles, when shortened, will pull the pelvis forward causing a pinch in the low back setting off pain that can drop you to your knees. As in mistake #1, doing nothing can lead to more serious injuries.

3 Traditional Stretching. Stretching as we were taught in school and athletics is actually strength training disguised as stretching. We hold the stretches too long , pull too hard, and try to stretch too many muscles at one time. When the body is in pain, your brain will anticipate pain every time you move in a direction that could possibly hurt. That anticipation of pain will cause the muscles to contract as the brain is trying to protect you. Holding a stretch for more than 5 seconds and forcing the muscle to lengthen will put the brain in the fight or flight mode. This will cause the muscles to contract and increase the pain.

4- Massage therapy– Massage therapist are taught to target the site of pain. If your therapist is only working on your back trying to push out the knots, like in #3, your brain will fight back. No one can cause your muscles to release unless you allow it. Deep tissue massage can cause your brain to fight back because if the pressure is too much, your brain will fight back leaving you with only short-term relief.

5Injections, braces, or surgery. Injections for low back pain is only useful if you are trying to only stop the pain. The doctor is not fixing anything. For example, what if you went to the dentist with a toothache and the dentist only gave you a shot to numb your mouth. Did they fix the pain and will it come back? The same is true for the rest of your body. Braces are to stabilize an area that is broken or torn. Low back pain is neither. Some people think a brace is for support, but the truth is, if the front of your body causes the pain, what good is a brace? Surgery is design to fix an area that has been damaged from past movements or behaviors. For example, the bulging disc may cause some pain, but what caused the bulging disc. If you surgically fix that one and not find the cause, won’t it bulge somewhere else?

The problem with all these treatments is that they are not addressing the cause of the low back pain. There is a specialized stretch to stretch the upper quad(front of thigh) and it is not standing on 1 foot and pulling your heel up to your hip. There is a specialized stretch for stretching the inner thighs and it is not doing a split or working an abductor machine at the gym. Once you can understand the mechanics of your body, it will become clear that working on the low back for low back pain is worthless.

In my next post I will tell you the 3 best stretches to stop your back pain in 3-5 days and why they outperform everything else that is suppose to solve your problem. Every day I meet people that are frustrated and tired of the letdowns from back pain cures that just don’t work. These stretches have work for people from 21 to 95 years of age and can easily be done at home or your office. I suffered for 6 months with severe low back pain and once I figured this out, my pain went away and hasn’t come back in 15 years. You can do the same. I have many clients that have testimonials on my website at http://www.MuscleRepairShop.com