Stiffness, Stretching

Want to Stop Grinding Your Teeth When You Sleep?

Last week, I had a new client that came in with the problem of biting through her bite guard that her dentist gave her. She said she had been a grinder for years and was afraid she would damage her teeth. Her dentist referred her to me and said she had bitten through a couple of guards. I taught her how to relax the muscles in her jaw and the side of her head which will help alleviate the grinding, but then I spoke with her about how to relax her mind before she went to bed.

Most people that grind their teeth at night tend to be the same people that replay their day, or even their life, night after night. As they are thinking about, either what they should have done earlier or what they must do tomorrow, the muscles in their face and head will tighten causing them to clench their jaw. This is also bad for their TMJ joint. Many times they will suffer with headaches, especially on the side of their head. If this is you, what can you do about that?

Let’s begin with relaxing the muscles in your jaw and head. You can do this sitting up or lying down, it doesn’t matter. There is a muscle between your cheek bone and your jaw called a masseter. It is about 1.5-2 inches wide and it is a major player in chewing your food. If you hold your jaw tight or grind your teeth at night, you may find this muscle to feel sore doing this exercise. Use the thumb on the same side as the cheek you are working, in other words, use your right thumb to work your right cheek. Move your thumb from the ear to towards the lip. You will start about an inch in front of the ear. Hard pressure is not necessary and like I said, your cheek may be too tender to stand a lot of pressure. Gently push across the muscle horizontally starting at the cheek bone and going down to the jaw. Repeat this 3 times. Now using the same thumb, start at the cheek and with a long sweep, go down to the jaw. Do this 2 times.

The next step is to place your thumbs, or fingers on each side of your head and make little circles from the back of your head to your temple area. Don’t press real hard, but hard enough that it feels good. Remember how good it feels when your hair stylist is rubbing your head as they shampoo your hair? You can get that same feeling any time. Do this for as long as you want, you cannot overdo this.

Finally, we need to quiet your mind. Some may choose meditation, which is my favorite, other may choose to write in journals, or if you are worried about tomorrow’s to do list, write it out and set a plan. This will take it off your mental plate so you can relax better.

Meditation can feel very daunting for many people, but the reality is, once you understand that it is not as hard as most meditation teachers make it out to be. Many times people believe you need to meditate like a Tibetan monk. That is not necessary. Sitting quietly for 5-10 minutes and allowing your thoughts to roll through your mind without judgment, which is great way to relax. The idea that you can sit for 30 minutes with no thoughts is nearly impossible unless you are highly trained. Let the thoughts roll and then let them go.

Writing them down can do similar things for relaxation as well. Just get them off your mental plate. Once you can do this, you can sleep like a baby, wake up refreshed, and start the next day full of energy. The secret to great sleep is a quiet mind. It may take a while to fully get it, but keep trying you can get there.

Stiffness

Are you Aging Faster than Your Friends?

We love comparing ourselves to our friends, don’t we? I am a competitive person and it just seems like fun to see if I can move better than my friends, especially when they are younger! Wouldn’t you agree? It’s funny , we think of stiff people as being old and frail, however, I see many younger people that are stiffer than people nearly twice their age. I was just listening to a podcast about the movement of people in today’s society and the researcher mentioned something I had not really thought of. He said that the way our cities and neighborhoods are set up, they are not conducive to humans walking, biking, or running. The foods we eat contain more fat than ever, and technology is eliminating the need to move. IN my town, Sarasota, they are building some bike paths and walking trails, but the problem is they go no where. Wouldn’t it be nice to live in an area that you could walk to the grocery store, coffee shop, or even to work? The invention of the car allowed us to be spread out as it forced us to need a car to go from place to place. There are communities that are being built for people to do just that. I am hoping this trend will continue. The autonomous car and companies like Lyft and Uber are lessening the need for a car.

Our local Visit Sarasota group which promotes local businesses, are creating events for restaurants that buy local food for at least 6 months, gluten free menus, and prepare food in a healthy way. If we can get people to start looking for these traits in the restaurants they eat, we can start to change the way restaurants work. It takes a little work for now, but if we can get into the habit of searching out these restaurants and buying natural foods, especially those that grow locally in our communities, we can change so many diseases that people suffer from today. Shopping at local farmers markets is a step in the right direction and many cities promote these every week. We are lucky here as we have several that run on different days of the week.

So why should we take the time to do these things? It seems like a lot of effort. You are correct, it will take some effort in the beginning, but just as demand got us to this point, demand can get us back to where we need to be. Locally grown foods are best to eat because the foods that grow in your area are designed to help you survive the climate. If you notice that food that grown in the south typically are juicier than foods that grow in the north, Why? The high humidity in the south creates a higher need to stay hydrated, therefore the foods are geared to help you. Foods in the north, especially in the winter, are geared to put more fat on you to help deal with the cold. Foods like melons are in season in the summer for that reason. Today we can get melons are year long. the problem we do not need some much hydration in the winter plus, the shipping these foods from all over the whole is not efficient use of energy either.

Technology is a wonderful thing, and I certainly enjoy it. However, technology can make a bit lazy. We need the movement to keep our bodies functioning at a high level. You may not think that is so important, but that is what is driving the high health care costs in our country today. Never in our history have so many people lived to be so old. Because of that we have little data about how we actually age beyond 80 and yet, more and more people are hitting 80 and even 90 years of age. The possibility of most of us living into our 90’s should give us some pause about how to prepare ourselves so we can enjoy our lives longer and not be broke from the high cost of healthcare. Unless you have millions of dollars put away, 20-30 years of hospital stays and nursing homes will drain your retirement pretty quickly.

So smart small and develop the habits of taking a brisk walk every day. You don’t have to walk 5 miles on your first day and you don’t have to set a speed record either. Start looking at food as medicine to improve your health and buy from local farmers. If you are planning a move, look for neighborhoods that are walkable for the goods and services you need. All it takes is a few baby steps and before you know it becomes a way of life. As you and your friends begin to change your demands from merchants, the merchants will change their products and services for you. Let’s change the world one person at a time. You can do it!

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.

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.