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.

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.

elbow pain, hand pain

Elbow Tendonitis, What is it?

Many of my clients come to see me with elbow tendonitis, or golfer’s elbow, or tennis elbow. They are all the same. The clients will usually be wearing some sort of an elbow band or brace thinking it will help their elbow. Some clients have even had injections to relieve the pain. It is very painful as I have had it myself. The problem with this thinking is, we are looking at the wrong place. This is symptom-based mentality when you think the spot of pain is the cause of pain. Unless it is a broken bone or a torn ligament or tendon, it is rarely at the spot of pain. It is best to remember that ligaments attach the bones together and tendons attach muscles to the skin of the bones. Also, tendons are like rubber bands, they can stretch out and go back to their original length. Ligaments are more like taffy, they can stretch out but will not go back to their original length.

There are 24 muscles in your forearm running from your elbow to your fingertips and there are 2 bones in the forearm. The forearm allows you to rotate, grip things, and wave with your hand. If you feel on the outside of your elbow, you will feel a bony knot which is on the end of the bone in your upper arm. Feel underneath, and you will feel another bony knot also on the end of the upper arm bone. These are important because this is where 5 muscles attach on each side that allows you to open and close your hand. It is the opening and closing of your hands that causes the elbow area to hurt. For instance, a golf swing requires you to grip your clubhead. This can cause the inside of the elbow to hurt. A backhand in tennis will cause the outside area of the elbow to hurt. There are many other things that can do the same thing. Something as simple as gripping your steering wheel, opening doors, painting, exercise, and stress if you hold stress in your hands. These muscles will get hard and pally pressure to the outside or inside of the joint. There are muscles in-between the forearm bones that, when hard, can reduce the rotating ability of the hand causing tenderness on the elbow as well.

The question is, how can you get rid of it? It is pretty simple when you think about. Every day I massage my forearms on my way home from the office because I use my hands all day. Now I am not talking about a little rub like you feel in a typical massage therapy session nor am I talking about digging down to the bone as in a deep tissue session. Use the pads of your thumbs and press in different spots on your forearm looking for sore spots, some people call them Trigger points, the bottom line is they are sore spots. Press down just enough for your brain to feel it, then breathe out allowing your brain to relax the muscle. Once it is relaxed, the pain will stop. Then move to another area and continue until the forearm is softer. Now, stand next to a table, place the palm of your hand flat on the table, and make sure the fingers are pointing behind you. Lean back gently while feeling a little pull up the forearm. More is not better so be gentle and breathe to release the muscles. Hold for 2 breaths and release. Holding for long periods of time will make it worse, not better. Next, bend the elbow and make a light fist. use the opposite hand and gently press down your hand feeling the stretch up the forearm and through the wrist. Remember to be gentle and not force the movement. Too much pressure on either stretch and the brain will fight with you and you will be strength training, not stretching. For the average person, doing these 2-3 times per week should be enough. If you use your hands a lot during your week, then I would suggest doing every day and maybe twice a day. This has kept my hands and arms from hurting in my practice.

To see videos of these and other stretches, go to my YouTube channel, The Muscle Repair Shop. You can leave comments here and on my Facebook and LinkedIn sites as well. If you have any questions, feel free to email me at butch@musclerepairshop.com and I will reply within 24 hours.

Back Pain, hand pain, Neck Pain

Stretching is more Mental than Physical

Stretching is so misunderstood. If I were King, I would change the word to releasing. Stretching is about letting go of the tension in your muscles. This tension can come from thoughts throughout your day or physical activity. A Neurosurgeon once said to me, ” Ever seen a stressed guy look relaxed?” He’s correct when we are stressed we tighten every muscle in our body. When having a bad day you may hold more tension in your shoulders, hips, hands, or feet, but it is also throughout your body. This tension will cause compression on your bones, nerves, and blood vessels. The compression on your spine can lead to bulging discs, herniated discs, tingling down an extremity. An example would be bike riding. As a biker is hunched over the handlebar, the compression on his/her spine is increased as they are holding up their head. The muscles of the chest begin to contract as they steering their bike, again increasing compression. As the compression increases in the cervical spine (neck), it pinches the nerves going down to the hands causing tingling and numbness. By releasing the chest muscles and the muscles on the front of the neck, the pressure on the neck will release. Increasing the strength of your back muscles will only make it worse.

The compression on your joints will cause your joints to wear out leading to joint replacement and surgeries to treat the pain. Every joint have muscles crossing over them. As the muscles harden from working out, it reduces the spacing in the joints which will squeeze out the synovial fluid, a lubricant the body naturally puts in your joint. Left untreated, this compression can cause bursitis, which is telling you your joint is too close together, and later damage to the cartilage. By learning to stretch properly, you can relieve the pressure on your joints as well as the nerves and blood vessels. You don’t need to know the names of all your muscles, but understand how you work mechanically will reduce your risk of injury.

The biggest issue that people have when stretching is understanding how much of stretching is more mental than physical. If you pull your muscles too hard, massage too hard, or try to force the muscle to release, your brain will fight back in fear of you hurting yourself. Your brain will not let you hurt yourself unless you force it, which is crazy! Listen to your body and when you stretch, feel the stretch from start to finish. If you are tight, only hold the stretch for 3-5 seconds and repeat 8-10 times. Holding a stretch for a long period of time is fone if you are flexible, but if you are not, then stretching is about re-training your brain to believe you can actually do the stretch. Be safe and free your body!

Be sure to like my Facebook page, YouTube Channel, and my blog at solidconcretebody.com.

elbow pain, hand pain, wrist pain

Are you Suffering from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Nearly 10 million people per year suffer from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome(CTS) each year in America. We are clear on the symptoms and what is exactly causing the pain at the moment of pain. However, we are not so clear on things we do to cause that pain to occur. Every health care practitioner can explain that the pain comes from the 4 tendons running through the carpal tunnel on the bottom side of your wrist are inflamed and presses against the median nerve in the carpal tunnel. The question is, what causes the tendons to inflame?

The inflammation is not the same inflammation you get when a part of your body swells or edema. That can be stopped by using ice. The type of inflammation is caused by the repetitive use of the forearm muscles in the bottom side of your arm. The term repetitive use does not mean doing the same thing over and over, but the continual use of these muscles. The 4 muscles on the bottom side of your forearm, the flexor muscles, allow you to grip anything you want to pick up, move, or hold. Driving your car and holding too tight on the steering wheel. Playing a sport that requires you hold a racket, bat, or club in order to play. Holding a cup of coffee, typing, or writing can cause this inflammation. There is no way to stop the inflammation from happening because we all do these things daily and are not going to stop.

There are several treatment plans available that most people have tried with limited success. Strength exercises may help in the short term but will cause the pain to get worse over time because you are shortening the muscles. Braces are very popular and do help in relieving some pain, but without changing what you are doing daily, it is just going to get worse. Plus over time the brace will stop working as well too. Injections can help as a short-term relief, but again, it will come back. Finally, surgery is a treatment many doctors use and it is only a short-term fix for your pain. I know it can be frustrating, but the problem is, we are not looking at the cause!

Any time you use your hands and fingers you are creating inflammation in the flexor muscles( bottom side) of your forearm. As the muscles contract to move your fingers and hands, they are burning the fuel ATP which leaves a waste product in the muscle fiber called lactic acid. You cannot drink enough water to wash it out. there are no pills to make it go away. The only way to get rid of it is to massage it out and then do a couple of simple stretches for your wrist and forearm. When you are massaging your forearm, don’t just rub, but use your thumb to press in various spots on your forearm looking for sore spots. When you find one, maintain the pressure, and breathe allowing your brain to release those muscles. Your forearms should be as soft as cotton candy regardless of how strong you are. Work up and down your arm.

The first stretch is to stand next to a table that you can place your hand flat on the table. Make sure your fingers are pointing behind you and lean into the stretch. Not too hard as your brain will fight with you, but just enough that you can begin to feel the stretch. Breathe and let your brain release the muscles in your forearm. The second stretch, make a light fist with the affected hand and bend the elbow. Place the opposite hand on top of your fist and gently pull down.  This will stretch the fingers that are tight from gripping too hard. Finally, place both hands together, like you are praying, keep both against your stomach and press one hand down to stretch the bottom wrist. Be sure to always do both sides in each of these exercises. You can see videos on my website, http://www.musclerepairshop.com.