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.

Foot pain, Knee Pain

Is Walking on the Beach a Dream or Nightmare?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Knee Pain, Stiffness

Who else wants to prevent joint replacement?

My plan is to die with all my original joints.I bet many of you have the same feeling., but the question is , do you have a plan? Even if you already have no more than one joint replaced, do you have a plan to not have anymore replaced? Many joint replacements could have been avoided if we only understood what caused the joint to go bad in the first place. Most believe that they were cursed somehow with bad joints from birth, others just they were unlucky. The truth is, unless the joint became bad from a trauma, your joint went bad due to lifestyle effects.

Knee replacements are the #1 joint replacement in America. According to http://www.uptodate.com, a patient information portal, 700,000 knee replacements are performed annually on the people age 50-80. That number is expected to increase to 3.48 million annually by 2030. That is a lot of new knees. I would like to reduce that number by at least half, but I need your help in getting the word out.

The knee wears out due to shortened muscles, bad gait, and bad shoes. At every joint, the muscles run across the joint. Meaning, the muscles above the joint attach below it and the muscles below the joint attaches above it. The shortening of the muscles actually pushes the joint closer together which will squeeze out the synovial fluid, think WD40, that lubricates and cushions the joint. This will lead to bone on bone issues that damage the joint.

A shortened gait places a lot of pressure on the front of the knee as the muscles on the the front and back of the knee fatigue and pushes the joint closer together as well. A shortened gait comes from inflexible ankles that force us to use our thigh muscles to walk versus the calf muscles.

Bad shoes will contribute to knee problems as well. Arch supports prevent the arch of the foot from acting like a spring to absorb to the impact of your foot hitting the ground. Pointy toed shoes force you to rotate your feet outward causing the knee to turn outward which will lead to damage. This will also cause bunions. Padded heels will increase the impact of the ground on your knees.

Learning how to lengthen and soften your muscles correctly, improving your gait and wearing shoes designed to let the muscles in your feet actually work is the best way to improve the health of your knees. You can see videos that explain in more detail on my YouTube channel, http://www.youtube.com/themusclerepairshop

Back Pain, headaches, Knee Pain, Neck Pain, Shoulder pain

When is the best time to stretch?

This is probably the most frustrating question I hear every day! Most of my clients and even my wife admits to only stretching when they experience pain. They come to see me frustrated with their pain and like everything else they have tried, they feel hopeless.

  The problem here is the mindset. Since we were children in grade school, every gym teacher and coach treated stretching as an afterthought. I can remember my coaches saying, “you boys go on over there and stretch before you go home.” Of course he would leave the field and usually so would we. The only time you really hear people suggesting to stretch is when they have a pain. I get it, it is a brainwashing! However, that doesn’t make it correct.

   Have you ever watched a dog or cat stretch out every time they get up to move?  Look up on the wire and you will see a bird stretching their wings before they fly. To these animals stretching is innate, and it is also true of humans. The problem is, we have been convinced that stretching really doesn’t work and especially for older people.

   I stretch every day of my life. I do not set aside a special time of day to stretch, although I do stretch first thing in the morning and most times at night for 15-30 minutes. Setting aside a planned time can create stress if you are running behind and are afraid you will miss your stretch out time. This will tighten the muscles and create more pain in the body. My stretching happens throughout the day and it is not a chore. Stretching, done correctly, should be relaxing and something you look forward to do doing. Unfortunately, for many of us, stretching has been painful and too much work and you are too tired to deal with it.

  Think of stretching like relaxing on the beach or in a hot bath. Stretching, done correctly, is about releasing the tension in the body by releasing the emotions from the brain. It is not about pulling the muscles really hard or pressing to hard creating pain in the muscles. That is not fun and no one will look forward to that!

   When holding a stretch, only hold for 3-5 seconds, breathe out allowing the muscle to relax. As the brain begins to let go, the muscle will relax. Repeat the stretch 8-10 times without force.  Do not try to stretch multiple groups of muscles at one time. Special poses are stamina building which equals strength training which equals tightening of the muscles. This is how people get hurt with stretching. When pulling so hard that all you feel is a muscle hurting, you are strength training.

   Stretching is a great way to take a break from a hard day. It will help regenerate the body and prepare it for a good night’s sleep and restful day tomorrow.

Back Pain, Knee Pain

Increase the Distance of your Golf Swing

Most golfers, especially as they age, complain about not being able to hit the ball as far as they once could. When we were younger, our muscles were a little stronger which allowed us to make up for the lack of rotation of our body. When we were younger our bodies were a little lighter for some people and we had not built up so much time in the Lazy Boy recliner either. The bottom line here is, our inner thighs have tightened and our quads, front of thighs, have also shortened. Due to sitting too much, the inner thighs will shorten. The issues that tight inner thighs create is low back pain, in the middle of the back, when standing up after sitting for a while or, getting out of bed first thing in the morning. The inner thighs can pull the pelvis slightly forward creating the back pain. With golf, short inner thighs limit the rotation of the hips through the ball and the need to use the arms for power takes over which usually ends up with a shoulder injury.

  The quads will also pull the pelvis forward when short and that will cause low back pain on either side of the low back area Both the quads and the inner thighs attach to the pelvis and as they shorten the pelvis shifts forward, putting a kink in your lower spine. When both are tight, it limits the rotation of your lower which can affect your knees, but just as important, it reduces the amount of power you can generate when hitting the ball. Most people will rely more on their upper body, or increase their strength training since they feel weak. The weakness comes from the muscles not having enough power to force through the tightness. No amount of strength training will help you do that as the brain will stop you before you hurt yourself.

  ON my website, www.MuscleRepairShop.com, you can sign up to see the videos.  Once you have signed up, send me a message stating that you want the lower body golf stretches and I will send them to you. There 4 different stretches for the inner thighs, three for the calves, and one for the quads. They will take about 10 minutes to do twice a day, everyday for as long as you play golf. The goal of stretching is not to relieve pain only. If you make a habit of stretching every day, you can prevent injuries from happening which will allow you to play golf for as long as you want.

Back Pain, Foot pain, Knee Pain

Why Golfer’s Suffer With Back Pain

Many of my clients are golfers and I usually hear how their low back pain affects their golf game. I used to play golf and I remember from my golf lessons that when you are swinging the club, you want to keep your back straight and rotate using your legs to bring the clubhead around your body. Watch a pro golfer when they swing. The club head is usually around their back to the other side of their body. This gives them more range to increase clubhead speed as it approaches the ball. When we see an amateur golfer we see the clubhead go to about the middle of their back which limits the range of building the clubhead speed. We know they are older and not as flexible, but can they improve their flexibility?

As I watch golfers swing a club, I see that their inner and outer thighs along with their inner and outer calves is what allows them to have the maximum amount of clubhead range. When I see golfers workout and stretch, I rarely see any golfer work on these two areas of their body. On the local courses, I see golfers forcing their backs to do the work. The inner thighs and outer thigh control the pelvis and when they are short, the pelvis is tilted forward which cause the low back to tighten. The calves are what allows your weight to shift on your feet. Without this flexibility, the chances of damaging your knees are pretty high. There is a way to help you improve your flexibility for golf. I have started putting videos on my YouTube channel at, The Muscle Repair Shop, to help you. Currently, the calf stretches are there and if you follow the video, you can reduce your risk of knee injuries. We will soon have the thigh and inner thigh stretches uploaded. You can visit my website at http://www.musclerepairshop.com and contact me for additional videos to help your golf game.

I love when my golfing clients tell me they have reduced their scores by 4-5 strokes. The stretching will help you with distance and control. More importantly, you can play without pain.

Back Pain, Foot pain, Knee Pain, Neck Pain, Uncategorized

Are You Prepared for Old Age?

Recently I graduated from the University of South Florida with a degree in Aging Sciences. I went back to school as an older student to improve my knowledge of the Aging process we all face. Aging Sciences has taken the place of Gerontology because Gerontology covered the aging process from 55 years old to death. Aging Sciences covers aging from birth to death. The most important thing I learned was that we are not prepared for what we will face as we age. Being my fifties, I have some time to improve, but for younger people, they can actually prevent themselves from many of the ailments that older people face today.

Our health care system is a symptom-based system which means it focuses mainly on solving the ache or pain with little regard towards the cause. When older people suffer from arthritis, back pain, or joint pain, we can offer drugs, braces, or surgery as a means to stop the pain. What we should be looking at are their diet and lifestyle. Unfortunately, even the doctors will say, ” at your age, what do you expect?” You should expect everything to work, however, you must be taught how to prevent these things from happening and most health care workers are not trained to teach you.

We know that inflammation can lead to heart disease, but did you know it can lead to arthritis, joint stiffness, and even back stiffness. Too many people are consuming processed foods, mainly carbohydrates, that convert into to simple sugars. These simple sugars can create inflammation throughout your body. Secondly, carbohydrates are the main portion of your diet can cause your body to burn sugars instead of fat which can lead to obesity. Just by simply reducing the number of bread, pasta, and eliminating most of the processed foods like pastries and doughnuts, you can reduce the harmful effects. Eating more vegetables like lettuce, kale, greens of different kinds will help to reduce the need to burn glucose(sugar). Remember to take baby steps to build a habit. Bad eating is a habit just like good eating. Never go cold turkey and deprive yourself as this is a recipe to fail. In 1996, I weighed 315 lbs. Over the next 18 months, I lost 105 lbs. without ever going on a diet. All I did was to learn new habits. It is not easy, but you can do it!

Lifestyle changes like taking brisk walks every day, choosing the stairs versus the elevator, and learning to relax are keys to reducing stress which can cause inflammation in the body as well. Meditation is a great way to reduce stress and bring your life back into calm. This can make you more productive and efficient. Little changes daily to your lifestyle will build a lifetime of good habits without too much pain. Part of my losing the 105 lbs., was beginning to walk around my 1 bedroom apartment because I did not have the energy to walk around my building. That is where I started.

These are small changes you can do every day. The younger you start, the more positive results you will have. In fact, many of the ailments older people suffer from today would simply be eliminated with these changes. This blog will continue to break down the choices you have so you can easily transition your life into a more healthy and fulfilling life. Please leave any comment you may have or suggestions as we will delve into aging from birth to death and how to prepare yourself for the aging process no matter where you are starting from.