How to Choose the Right Seat!

This sounds like an oxymoron, right? Everyone knows when they sit in a bad chair, or do they? Recently, I have had several clients come in and complain about back and hip pain. All said they had not experienced back stiffness before. As I probed them with a few questions, which I always do, each of them had recently purchased a different car. My follow up question was, what kind of car did you have, and what kind of car do you have now?

Two of my clients had down-sided from a mini-van to a sports car, A third had gone from an SUV to a sedan. The problem here is pretty simple when you think about it. Each of us are shaped differently.Some of us have a short torso and long legs, or a long torso and short legs. A few of us are pretty equal between our torso and legs. The odd thing is, our car seats don’t accommodate the different shapes. Plus, a mini-van or SUV seat is higher and places you in a position like a chair at home. This takes a lot of pressure off the hamstrings.If you switch to a sports car, or sedan, the pressure is increased causing low back stiffness.

If you have long legs and a short torso then you will experience low back pain when you stand because the front of your thighs will tighten while sitting in this position. The lower the car, the worse it will get.

If you have a longer torso and short legs, then headroom becomes an issue. The seat being too long puts too much pressure on the back of your knees which can cause your legs to go to sleep. This will lead to low back pain while sitting, not standing.

The same can be true of chairs in your home. If you have short legs and the seat cushion is too long, it places pressure on the back of you legs. People with long legs sitting in a cushion that is too short will sit with their knees above their hips and they will feel back pain when they stand.

When choosing a seat for home, look at the length of your thighs and the length of the seat cushion.If they match, it will work for you. If not, you could be heading for back pain. Cars are a little more difficult. People with long legs can ride comfortable, for long distances, in cars with higher seats. People with shorter legs have to be concerned with headroom and the length of the seat cushion.

I find it odd that car seats don’t have backs that move forward and back. This would improve the seating for people of all shapes. We can move in every direction with the seat, but not the back. Oh, in case you think the lumbar feature actually helps, watch someone sitting with a small pillow on the small of their back. To see straight ahead they have to tighten the back of their neck in order to left their heads. Lumbar will cause the same reaction. This will lead to headaches and upper back fatigue.

Be very choosy about the seat you sit in. I have seen some beautiful cars that I wanted to own, but once I sit in the seat, I knew I could never take a long drive in that car. Your back will appreciate your effort. Check out my videos on stretching your body properly at http://www.musclerepairshop.com or go to my YouTube Channel, The Muscle Repair Shop.


The Little Known Secret to Staying Cooler in Hot Weather!

We are coming into summer and we all know what that means! The heat rising during the day, humidity in Florida is high, and we are sweating uncontrollably. Most people’s first response is to wear as few clothes as possible, spend plenty of time in water, or find an air conditioner to stay cool. The problem with the last two responses is, what if you need to do something outside? How can you survive another hot summer? The biggest mistake we make, is wearing too few clothes. Yes, you read this correctly. We are wearing too few clothes in how weather.

I grew up on the coast of North Carolina and the summer there can make Florida feel like a cool place. It is not unusual there for temperatures to reach upper 90’2 to low 100’s daily from late July to early September. Humidity can stay above 95% during the day and even in the low 80% at night. The last time I was there in August, I left town at 4:20 am. The humidity at 4:30 am was 84% and water was running off my car like it was raining. I am sharing this information so you will know I understand living in how weather. I have done it all my life.

 As a teenager in North Carolina, I worked on farms during the summer to earn money. I will never forget an old farmer that I worked for because he always wore long sleeve shirts, long pants, and a hat. I know what you are thinking, WHAT? Yes, every day he dressed the same way and I could not believe it. Like many of you, I wore shorts, tank top, and flip flops, just hoping to find a little cool breeze. I decided to ask him one day how he could stand wearing all those clothes and this is what he told me.

“Young man, I am about 10 degrees cooler than you are, he exclaimed, you do not understand how your body works to keep you cool.” I was shocked and amazed at the same time. He continued to tell me the reasons behind the clothes he was wearing and how everybody should dress the same.

What I learned from this old man was, wearing a tank top and shorts allowed the hot sun to dry my sweat as fast as my body could make it. Therefore, my skin was very hot to the touch which made me very hot. With the long sleeve shirt and long pants, his body would sweat wetting the inside of his clothes, and some on the outside as well, which kept his body temperature about 10 degrees cooler. It is your body’s natural way to prevent overheating. We are the only animals in the animal kingdom that does this. The hat kept the top of his head cooler as well as damaging his skin from the sun.

I decided to try this and to my surprise, I was cooler. Since that time if I have to be outside, I always wear a long sleeve shirt with UV protection, long pants, and a hat. When I met my wife 20 years ago, she thought I had lost my mind going outside dressed in a long sleeve shirt. Even after I told her my story she still did not believe me. We would work in our yard and she was overheating and just could not understand how I could stay out there and work in the heat. After 15 years of me repeating the story, she finally decided to try it. She was amazed and can’t stop telling her friends about this new discovery! Her friends now think she is nuts too. I have recently bought hats I can wet for additional cooling. This works great at the beach, ballparks, and theme parks. I know sound crazy and the idea of you sweating sounds nasty but try it. The seating actually detoxifies your body and it keeps you cool, so there is nothing nasty about that. More importantly, you can enjoy your events and stay cool while everyone else is dying. Enjoy the Florida sun!


Think Stiffness is a Part of Aging? Wrong!

It is funny how we think about older people. I was recently working with a webmaster and we needed some picture of older people, 55+. that were frustrated with chronic pain. The person that I was speaking to was a young woman probably in her 30’s and college educated. What she sent to me for my approval was just too funny. She sent 10 pictures of people, not 50-65, not even 70-75, but people over 80 years of age and to top it off, all of them were laughing and having a good time. In her mind, people 50-65 are too old to be active and look 80+. Though I work with many very active people over 80, the pictures she sent were pictures of inactive or sickly people. That is the normal picture of older people. Sadly, too many older people have that same perspective too.

Most of my clients are over 50 years of age and are very active, including the clients over 80. So I have to wonder if the vision of a sickly older man or woman is so strong in the heads of older people that the vision becomes their destiny? If so, what are the active older people doing so differently? Or are the active older people just the lucky few?

I have ask many people over 80 and 90 years old about how they think and what they do daily. I also ask if they think that what they do is the secret to aging better? The responses are very similar and are laughed at by their peers, but the truth of the matter is, they understand the secret to aging better.

The common threads are, they always have a project for tomorrow, next week, and next year. They believe they can still do the work inside and outside like they did years ago. They read a lot, work puzzles, work on their computers to figure out software, and they get out into the sun daily to sweat. Their diet is healthier with less calories as they age. they love to exercise, typically tennis, biking, walking, or swimming is at the top. Golf seems to be too slow for many of them. All of them maintain great relationships with spouses, family, and friends and remain active in their social organizations too. They do think about getting older, but only from the perspective of running out of time to get their projects completed.

I have had some great conversations with my older clients and though they are 80+, their mindset is equal to that of a 50-60 year old. These are lessons we all can follow.

Stretching, Uncategorized

Most Tennis Stretches Don’t Work and Why!

So you are getting ready to play tennis and you know should be stretching/warming up to play the match. You lift your foot, if you can, and set it on top of the net to stretch your hamstring, right? You stand there talking to your friends for 20 seconds to a minute, because the longer you stand there, the better the stretch, right?. You take that leg down and then place the other foot up there and repeat the same process. How cool! I can stretch my hamstring and talk to my friends at the same time. Most of my friends are impressed that I can actually get my foot up to the net. The ones who cannot reach the net will sit on the bench, stick their leg out in front of them and bend their ankles to stretch their calves. The rest of the players will just fly onto the court and began to play because they just not have time to stretch and besides they do not need it. They stretched yesterday at the gym. Does this sound familiar?

In all of these scenarios, none of these people have actually stretched anything. In fact, the last group has the best chance of not having an injury while playing. The first group is doing what they were told to do by their pro or instructor. The problem is, they are doing strength training disguised as stretching. First of all, the standing in that position is an act of balancing which means their calves, feet, and thighs are all contracting so they do not fall down. Secondly, they have to contract their abdominal muscles to lean forward, tightening the ab muscles. Finally, there are three hamstring muscles and they are trying to stretch all three at the same time which is impossible. All three hamstring muscles are important for tennis because you are running in many different directions and stretching them in one direction is just wrong! As a side note, the four calf muscles need to be stretched to help the three hamstring muscles work better.

The second group is trying to stretch their calf muscles, but they are tightening their shin muscles which will lead to shin splints. Sitting with your leg out in front of you and bending your foot back towards you requires the contraction your shin muscles which will cause them to tighten. I know, I know, you have been told that you should contract your muscle and release. Contract again and release, which is suppose to stretch the opposing muscle. All you have done to fatigued the muscle you have been contracting. The last group doing nothing at all, are at least not tightening their muscles more than they already are, but they are still tight and will eventually hurt themselves. So what should you do?

Get a yoga strap, rope, or belt to stretch. Do not use an elastic band as they were designed for strength training. You can sit on the ground or sit on the bench with your foot on top of something like an ottoman. Place the strap around the ball of your foot and gently pull the strap towards you without using your leg muscles, only your arms. This will stretch the 2 middle calf muscles attach into the Achilles tendon. As you begin the stretch breathe out and focus on letting these two muscles relax. You need to focus your brain on the stretch or the stretch is lost. The brain is the most important part of stretching. You have heard of the mind/body connection in yoga classes? This is very similar except we don’t hold the stretches for a long period of time. Only hold the stretch for 3-5 seconds and repeat the stretch 8-10 times. I will talk about more later. Now, rotate your foot to the middle of your body and repeat the stretch. Finally, rotate the foot to the outside of the body and repeat the stretch again.

The reason for holding the stretch for just 3-5 seconds is to avoid the stretch reflex, which is in every muscle we have. That is what keeps you free of danger until our thoughts override it, this causes injuries. Allowing the muscles you are stretching to relax frees the joint in that area and gives the brain the opportunity to release the muscle. Repeating the stretch 8-10 times allows you time to acclimate to the movement and let your brain learn that your body can move that way. Focusing on the stretch versus talking to your friends allows your brain to release the emotional tension and then the physical tension in the muscle. If you occupy your brain with information that can cause stress, sadness, anger, or even happiness the brain will not let the muscle release and in some cases may even tighten the muscles more

Tennis is a great game, but if you are not prepared to play the game, injuries will occur. My clients that do play tennis love the fact that their new flexibility improves the way they can hit the ball, attack the net, and chase down balls they could have never gotten to before adding this type of stretching to their game. My oldest tennis player is 89 years old and he plays 3 times a week against 70 and 80 year old opponents. His average game last 2-3 hours. Oh , did I say he also built his own ranch at 87.


We are Changing the Blog Name

Beginning Thursday, February 21, 2019, our new blog name will be. “Stretch and Release.” Our blog address will be http://www.stretchnrelease.com. Please make note of the changes so you don’t miss out on any of our posts.

“Stretch and Release” is the name of our technique for helping people stop their chronic pain and it seemed natural to name our blog the same. We will continue to give the same great information in the same format.


What are You Waiting For?

It seems that every day someone will make the comment, “Life sure flies by fast!” I am sure many of you have heard that throughout your life. I don’y think time has sped up in any way, but we get so caught in what we are doing that we set aside those important visits, or even moments, to spend with the people we love.

Today, my friend Ann passed away after a long battle with cancer. As I age I am reminded each year how important it is to spend time with loved ones by witnessing my friends dying one by one. Yet, with these huge reminders, I think about the people I love and soon get back to life the way it was. Are the things I do more important than family or friends. The short answer is no, but we look at our lives, is that true?

No one is ever promised an extra day on this earth, so what are we waiting for that will allow us to relax and enjoy our friends and family? Is there something that will happen that will signal us that it is Ok to waste time with the people we care about the most? If we earn all this money we have envisioned in our lives, we it be worth it if there is no one around to enjoy it with? When is enough, enough?

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.