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.

elbow pain, Stiffness

Here’s a Quick Way to Stop Elbow Tendonitis!

The other day I saw a young woman that loved to play tennis. She played several times a week, but was having trouble with her elbow. Like most tennis players she purchased a band that wraps around her forearm to try and stop the pain. Though it helped, the pain was still there enough to reduce her playing time. She even tried creams and lotions hoping to reduce the pain because friends had said it was probably inflamed. That didn’t really work either. I spent 2 sessions with her and taught her why her elbow hurt and how to stop the pain.

Elbow Tendonitis is actually a hand issue, though the pain is in the elbow. There are 26 muscles in you arm from the elbow to the fingers. There are 5 main muscles on each side that attach at the elbow and allow your hands to open and close. The harder you grip anything such as a tennis racket, golf club, or steering wheel, the tighter these muscle become and the more pain you will get in the elbow. The solution is pretty easy.

First , feel your forearms. If you cannot easily feel the 2 bones in your forearm, which you probably can’, and that is why you hurt. Using the opposite hand began gently pressing on your forearm and breathing out to allow the muscles to release. The pressure you apply will not release these muscles, it is your brain that will release them. Too many people, including therapists, believe that they can push the hardness out. This is not true! In fact, the harder you push the worse it will get. The end result result should be a softer forearm, regardless of how strong you are. Hard bodies and buns of steel are not good for the human body.

Next, make a light fist with the hand of the arm with the tendonitis and push it down with the opposite hand bending at the wrist. Hold for 3-5 seconds and repeat 8-10 times. Each time you press down, breathe out and allow your brain to relax the muscles in the forearm. Finally, stand next to a table and place your palm down with your fingers pointing behind you. Then lean into that same hand to release the muscles on the inside of the forearm. Hold for 3-5 seconds and repeat 8-10 times.

Since nothing is torn, broken, braces are ineffective. The inflammation is a build up of lactic acid, so creams are ineffective. Even though you feel weak, strength training will make it worse. Holding the stretch too long will make it tighter. Tight muscles will make you feel weak, apply pressure to your nerves and joints, and even affect your blood circulation system.

Chronic pain cost us more per year than heart disease and cancer combined. To reduce and/or stop the pain, we must change our minds about how to address the pain first. Once we look at our cause of pain, not the diagnosis, we can change our health.

Be sure to check out my videos at my YouTube channel, The Muscle Repair Shop or go to my website at http://www.MuscleReparShop.com.

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

Stiffness, Stretching

Get Rid of your Stiffness once and for all!

Stiffness,waking up in the morning with a stiff low back, tight neck and shoulders, and even knees and hips. This is a common occurrence throughout America regardless of the age. It is so standard that we have commercials with people begging for their 2 pain pills that they take everyday to stop their pain. The over the counter pain pills are sold by the millions every year. Maybe you deal with stiffness as well and yet you may think it is just because you are getting older. Your friends and even your doctor will agree. This is a sad state in our country. There are 3 different belief systems about dealing with chronic stiffness.

1- Many believe that working out in the gym is a way to battle the stiffness. The mindset is, If I can get strong enough my pain will go away. The truth of the matter is, you are probably causing more stiffness because you are tightening your muscles which applies too uch pressure to your joints and discs.

2- Others believe that as we age we should slow down. These people are literally rusting up.The lack of movements causes the muscles to tighten, again applying too much pressure to your joints and discs.

3- Still others believe this is just a part of getting older but they are not willing to stop moving. This group will take the 2 pain killers each day thinking they are outsmarting the pain. In reality, the pain killers may cause damage to their digestive systems leaving with the stiffness and digestive issues.

The truth of the matter is your stiffness is a natural state for your body to be in. Since you are alive and you will move to some degree, your muscles will tighten. You also have emotions which will cause your muscles to tighten. Your muscles contract by burning a fuel called “ATP” which will leave a waste product called “lactic acid.” This “lactic acid” causes the muscles to harden and shorten which applies pressure to the joints and spine. You cannot drink enough water to wash it out, there are no pills you can take to clean it out, and no one else can release from your body until you know how to do it as your mind will fight back.

Watch a dog or cat, and you will see them stretch out several times a day. These animals get tight just like you and I. This how we should stretch too. Stretching is different mindset from strength training. It needs to be for periods of 2-5 minutes a ta time, several times a day. The key is understanding how your mind plays a huge role in loosening up your muscles. Check out my videos explaining in more detail at http://www.youtube.com/themusclerepairshop

In my next post I will explain why so many people wind up with joint replacements without having any previous trauma.

Stiffness, Stretching

The 4 Keys to Living a Pain Free Life Regardless of your Age.

My friends and I used to go to the gym 3 or more times per week. We would lift weights for an hour, then get on the treadmill or stair climber for another 30 minutes. Of course we would leave sweaty and tired, but we felt great! Some months it looked like we were losing weight, but never a lot. The funny thing was, after all that working out, every time we would play softball or basketball together in our leagues, somebody always seemed to get injured. I just couldn’t figure out why. Even I would sustain injuries either from playing sports or just working in my yard. How could that be? I am working out regularly as I was told, yet it seemed I was always hurting. My doctor and my friends would say, “Well you are getting older!” I was frustrated and just refused to believe that in my late thirties I could be hurting this bad.

This is where I began my journey with the muscles. I enrolled in a massage therapy school to learn the basics of muscles. On my first day, I felt something I had never felt before. It was like someone had put a CD in my head of how the muscles work mechanically. I could clearly see the relationship between the bones and muscles. Keep in mind that I had never had much interest in the human body beyond looking good to get dates. This is were I learned the need to relax the muscles to take the pressure off the joints and spine. Bones cannot move on their own and need the muscles for any movement.

Key #1Lengthen the muscles– After finishing massage school, I was introduced to a man named Aaron Mattes, the founder of Active Isolated Stretching. Aaron taught me that the way we traditionally stretch was incorrect. We hold the stretches too long and apply too much pressure. It cause our brain to fight with us. You have heard of muscle memory, right? Your brain creates habits in how you move, stand, or walk which will prevent pain, regardless of correctness. To create better habits to prevent joint damage or spine damage, we must teach the brain new habits first. Stretching is more emotional than physical. Once you can emotionally release the muscles, then you can physically release the muscles. Any other way is just a short term fix. Check our my websites for more tips on stretching, http://www.musclerepairshop.com

Key#2Strengthen muscles– This we all know too well whether we go to the gym or not. The problem is, there are 2 parts to strengthening. The first is the lifting the weights, or your body weight, to build bigger and stronger muscles. Some people will lift heavy weight with less reps for bigger muscles while others may choose a lighter with more reps to avoid big muscles. Either way you will get stronger.

Key #3- Stamina training– This tends to get lumped in with weightlifting and usually forgotten. Most problems people face have to do more with stamina and then pure strength. Unfortunately many people are diagnosed as weak and are told to lift weights. Stamina training involves being able to do an activity for long periods of time without causing the body to fatigue and spasm. Many low back sufferers suffer with this. This is not walking on treadmill or doing a cardio machine at the gym, but doing the activities you enjoy. Start slow and build up your time.

Key #4- Nutrition– Food is always a key component in the making of a healthy body. I like to think of my body as a Ferrari. I would never to put water in the gas tank, right? That would be crazy. I see many of my friends that work out, sit down and eat a high fat meal for the sole purpose of giving them more energy to work out. Feeding your body with fresh vegetables like greens, squashes, lean clean meats(smaller amounts), and healthy fats like avocados is a real key in how healthy your body will be. I am not saying you need to be vegetarian or vegan, though there is nothing wrong with that, but eating a 12-16 oz steak, baked potato with sour cream and butter, and drinking a high sugar drink will negate everything you are trying to obtain at the gym. It is like pouring water in the Ferrari’s gas tank and then complain about how bad it runs.

Living a pain free takes some work and a lot of better decisions about what you eat and choose to do. You can have a great looking body, but still be living in pain. Your pain is about the relationship between your muscles and your bones. It is up to you as to how pain free you live. Better decisions, means a pain free life! Check out our videos at our YouTube channel- http://www.youtube.com/themusclerepairshop, to learn more about the Keys to living Pain Free.