Monthly Archives: February 2016

Butt Pain

Butt pain is not cool. I’m not talking rectum pain (go see a doctor if you have this), I’m talking pain right in the middle of your booty cheek. Can’t sit, can’t walk, can’t run, can’t get comfortable! What is the cause, and how can I fix it?

No one is immune to butt pain because we all have glutes (unless your glutes were bitten off by a shark). Pain in the butt may have a few causes including pinching by the piriformis, irritation of the sciatic nerve, lumbar disc bulge, low back derangement, SI/sacrum/coccyx dysfunction, and hip arthritis.

With butt pain we can assume that the glutes and hamstrings are tight and weak. There may be some associated quadratus lumborum tightness and weakness as well as quadriceps and IT band tightness (quads are usually pretty strong in healthy adults).  No matter the cause, there are a few simple fixes that can alleviate your symptoms:

Postural Change and Correction–My soap box of all time.  SYMMETRY.  It is SO important that we balance our posture.  Every 15-30 minutes change position, get up, stand, walk, stretch.  Movement helps to shift the pressures in the spine and joints to refresh and replenish the blood supply.  The blood carries vital nutrients and oxygen in and removes waste on the way out.

*If all you do is stand all day, lay down, roll like a ball, throw your legs over your head, hang upside down…change position!

LLD–what people in the biz call leg length discrepancy.  Most people have one leg that has little man syndrome.  Do not let the little or big guy rule your posture.  Either correct or overcome the LLD.  If your SI is always “out” (the biggest PT debate of all time is if the SI really moves at all), or if you have herniated discs, or a “bad side” it’s probably because the little guy isn’t up to par.  Correct LLD by placing an extra insert into the short leg.  If this feels too weird, then you will have to consciously balance your posture by even weight distribution and postural positioning throughout the day.

Cross Training–I marathon, CrossFit and practice yoga.  I began by running, and then my PT brain told me that I needed to strengthen to prevent an over use injury so I started CrossFit.  CrossFit improved my strength, which fueled my cardiovascular health for running but then I began feeling tight and too forward flexed so yoga came to the rescue.  Yoga is the the icing on the cake.  Yoga is the ultimate balancing machine.  No matter the sport, please practice yoga.

Yoga has taught me that prayer, meditation, and a healthy spiritual practice are vital components of the cross training circuit.  Again, it’s all about finding balance.  God made us to be multi-dimensional, multi-modal, multi-talented individuals capable of anything because we house His breath, life essence, talent and creation.

Eat Healthy— A healthy diet produces good neuronal firing and decreases inflammation.  Remember these simple tips:

  1.  You can’t over eat the produce aisle:  If you eat nothing but clean meat and produce, you WILL NOT be fat…it’s impossible.
  2. Clean meat:  Organic, free range, non-GMO.  Remember you are what you eat, so if your food is eating chemicals that can melt plastic, you are too.
  3. Plan your cheat meals:  Look ahead each week and decide when you are going to be bad.  Have a kid’s birthday party with a hot dog and Cheetos buffet in the future?  Know that you aren’t going to win any health awards at that party and plan accordingly.  I would recommend no more than 3 cheat meals in a week.  You can do a cheat day, where the day is dedicated to gluttony, but I’ve found it’s wiser to plan the cheat meals based on social obligations.
  4. Eat healthy most days of the week AND consecutively:  MOST days is four days out of the week. Try to string these together if you can so that your guts get a break.  You’ll notice less pain and swelling in the these four days because your energy will be used to effectively to fire your brain, muscles, and nerves.  Your guts get really tired and cranky kicking into high gear to digest indestructible carbohydrates and GMOs on a daily basis, so they’ll request energy from other sources (like your brain, muscles, and nerves).

The Earth Diet by Liana Werner-Gray is a great reference http://theearthdiet.com/.

Relationships–Look at your relationships and life, is there a pain in your butt? Shift it, fix it, or release it (as Davidji would say).  Remember that some relationships are toxic, get over it–try to shift it, fix it, or let it go if all else fails.  Look for a future blog featuring this approach to healing taken from Davidji’s book Destressifying.

Now to the physical therapy stuff…

Stretching–Feel free to totally “Zen” out in the following stretch poses:

Child’s pose:

Spread the knees wide, let the toes touch and bend forward putting your belly between your knees.  Hold for 3-5 breaths or up to 2 minutes.  Repeat with body shifted to the right and left.

child's

 

Quadratus Lumborum stretches:

This stretch is intense so please modify if needed.  Some are flexible enough to reach the top arm to the shin or grab the toes.  If you get a quarter of the way into the stretch and feel it, good job…that’s it for you today, stay and hold.

QL

Sit on the ground with legs spread wide.  Lean to one side reaching the opposite arm over head toward the toes.  You may use a strap around the ankle to assist.  Hold 3-5 breaths or 1-2 minutes.

twisted tree
Cross one leg over the other.  Allow the top leg to pull the bottom knee down and in.  You may be flexible enough to double cross the legs to take the stretch deeper.  Relax and breathe 3-5 breaths or 1-2 minutes.
Piriformis stretches:

Cross one leg over the other, grab the uncrossed leg behind the thigh and pull forward 3-5 breaths or up to 2 minutes

piriformis2

Glute stretch pigeon pose style. You can also come to elbows, or rest your head on the ground.  3-5 breaths or 2 minutes each side.

pigeon
Spinal twist by pulling one knee across the body, shift that same shoulder out and lower the opposite shoulder to the ground to deepen.  Hold 3-5 breaths or 2-3 minutes each side.

spinal twist

Quad stretches:

I like this pose because modifications can easily be done with depth of lean back (stay propped up on hands, come to elbows, lay on pillow, lay on ground).  I can totally relax and daydream for a while in this pose.  I like to let my head fall back as well.  Hold 2-3 minutes.

quad stretch

Rolling—  Sit on a tennis ball or foam roller and hang out.  Cross one leg over the other, find that nauseating trigger point and chill for 2 minutes.  Exhale through the pain, each exhalation should exit out of the trigger point relaxing it.  Just when it feels like it will never relax is when it does, so give it time–2 minutes of time, then move on to the next trigger point.  Don’t ignore the IT band because it’s often a culprit to be dealt with as well.

Glute roll:

foam roll glute
IT band roll:

ITB foam roll

Strengthening— Just because your butt cramps and spasms tighter than a vice grip does not mean that the muscles are strong.  In fact, the majority of the time, the gluteals are weak in cases of butt pain.  Try some of the following booty tighteners (after you stretch and roll):

Standing forward bend balancing on one leg: rep it out or hold 3-5 breaths.

single leg forward bend
Bridge pose (block optional):  rep it out or hold 3-5 breaths

bridge
Pistol  Squat (a CrossFit favorite):  To perform reps, you may need to modify depth, hold on to a stable object with one hand, or use a band.  Below parallel may or may not be obtained, and that’s OK.  You may also simply hold 3-5 breaths.

pistol

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Offensive Health

My mid 20’s marked the beginning of my journey to health. I was hardly an adult but I was experiencing pain that I began to identify as something that could easily spiral to chronicity. Weekly migraines, high blood pressure, viruses, infections, allergies, depression, intolerance, fatigue, neck pain and hand pain were things I didn’t think I’d experience until my golden years. My hobby became figuring out food— a BS in Biology taught me that medicine is made out of food so I figured if I ate the right things I may be able to stay out of the local Care Now.

Health can offend. I had absolutely NO CLUE that my decision to seek health and happiness may offend so many. My now husband, then boyfriend, accompanied me to Whole Foods for my first effort in transformation. He rubbed his head as I searched for a non- dairy milk, he sighed as I picked up a bottle of spirulina, and he nearly passed out when I bought almost everything in the produce aisle to prepare my meals fo
r the week. Finally, I turned to him and jokingly said, “You’re acting like I’ve decided to do crack cocaine!” We had a hearty laugh and headed to the register. Maybe he was realizing that he would be dragged into the same eating habits if he stuck with me.

One change a week was my motto. Every week I would pick something to change: Minimize dairy and eliminate milk, eat healthy grains, eliminate processed foods, rid myself of gluten, no more “juice” that isn’t really juice, read all ingredient labels, try everything in the produce aisle, experiment with one new recipe a week, read more books, do more research, and learn about organic and non-GMO food options.

Almost 10 years later my healthy habits now include yoga, meditation, exercise, use of essential oils, and homemade/chemical free household products, juicing, and incorporating alternative therapies (which I think shouldn’t be called alternative as they are the practices of our great grandparents). Yet every change continues to offend some people. I am amazed by how many conversations I’ve had trying to convince a disbelieving audience or defend my current practice. More eyes have rolled my direction than I care to count. Things that are my “Zen” and bring me happiness, and health have truly made some people irate, and I’ve lost a few friendships over it.

The norms of the world necessitate my constant tolerance, which is not always reciprocated. The planetary demands to conform have never suited me—not because I like to be different or cool but because I am drawn like anyone else to the things that bring me health, happiness, and joy. My antidepressant is exercise, my migraine deterrent is non-dairy milk, and my allergy pills are my oils and juice. Yes, I find myself in the local urgent care every now and then but it’s WAY less than the 4-5 times a year as in my early 20’s. I’ve eradicated the need for blood pressure medicine, daily Zyrtec, Flonase, Excedrine Migraine, and Celexa (an antidepressant)—yes, I was taking all of these at the ripe age of 22.

I’m sharing all of this so that you don’t feel alone if your efforts to heal and be healthy are not supported by your friends, family, coworkers, or spouse. It is my hobby, it brings me joy, and I don’t try to control anyone else’s hobby—maybe this will help it be accepted or at least tolerated. I’m extremely proud of all of the things I’ve taught myself through the wisdom of the health and alternative community (thank you Hay House radio, and the countless authors in the self-help and health/nutrition section of Half Price Books and Amazon).

XL hugs and kisses!

On The Radio! The Earth Diet

Wednesday evenings on the way home from work I often tune in to The Earth Diet radio show on Hay House radio.  I don’t have the book yet, but basically, Liana (the author and host) encourages a clean, vegan diet to revitalize, recharge, and restore health.  The goal is to thrive in the body you’ve been given.  She offers several healthy, whole, alternatives to kick cravings in the butt.  Her personal struggle and dietary transformation fuel the questions and discussion.

Finally, I did it.  I hit the “call in now” button…I actually did it, and I actually got through!  I couldn’t believe it!  People who know me can attest to my stage fright, so my heart was racing and clogging my throat.  The feeling of being in the presence of a pop star filled my stomach.  I had a simple question:  How can I eat clean, and in enough quantity to fuel my long marathon training runs and my heavy Crossfit workouts?

I love the feeling after a nice, dietary cleanse.  Eating healthy is so revitalizing…but then I’ve got to get back to the gym.  Exercise is my passion.  It’s my anti-depressant, anti-anxiety, my hobby, and my energetic release.  It’s created physical strength in my workday and motherly activities and cultivated discipline and respect.  I love it–BUT–a vegan diet doesn’t seem to cut it in the fuel department.  I know vegan athletes exist so I must be missing something!  After a few days of clean eating I feel as if I am running with cement shoes, my stomach is growling in the middle of a run, and I can’t lift a heavy barbell to save my life.

Liana Werner-Gray, author of The Earth Diet book, came to the rescue and gave me some wonderful tips.

  1.  Chia seed cereal (recipe below)–double the serving size it and take it to go.  I’ve been eating chia seed cereal, which has helped energetically in the beginning of the workout but it digests quickly, leaving me hungry by mile 7…simple fix…double the recipe AND take some to go for longer workouts.
  2. Nutiva protein powder–this is plant based as opposed to grain based, which may settle and fill the stomach and ease digestion.
  3. Fresh vegetable juice–vegetable juice power packs your system with nutrients so the cells aren’t bogged down, sluggishly looking for a fuel source.
  4. Hemp seeds–recent studies show hemp seeds may have more protein than meat!  How exciting!  Eat spoonfuls post workout or put them on just about anything for a nice, nutty flavor.  Three tablespoons has 10g of protein!
  5. Quinoa–this is a nice, clean, digestible fuel source, maybe the night or afternoon before a long run.  (My Paleo brain made me forget about this great source of plant-based protein)
  6. Brown rice pasta–also an easy to digest, clean fuel source the night before or afternoon after endurance training.  (Again, paleo brain made me forget this as a source during marathon training)
  7. Tiger nuts–I’m in love already.  They are so filling and delicious but take quite a bit of chewing to get down.  She suggested soaking them in water or placing them on top of the chia seed cereal to aide in availability during or after a long workout.
  8. Eat clean meat only–organic, grass-fed, free range is the key.  If the animals are stressed and eating crap, you will be stressed and eating crap.
  9. Vitacost!  Vitacost.com is a great website with discounted prices on clean food items.  Many of the prices I have found are cheaper and cleaner than Amazon, Sprouts, Central Market, and Trader Joe’s.  Liana told me to use coupon code earthdiet to get 10% off!

Chia Seed Cereal:  I put two tablespoons of Chia seeds into a bowl and put in about 1/2 cup to 1 cup almond milk.  I soak them overnight and add cinnamon and honey in the morning, mix up, and eat.  The thickness can be adjusted by changing the seed/milk ratio to your liking.  I make home made, chocolate almond milk to jazz mine up.

Almond Milk:  1 cup almonds soaked overnight in water.  Pour almonds into high speed blender with 4 cups water.  Add 1-2 dates (or none), a bunch of raw honey, sea salt, cocao powder (or none), vanilla extract, and nutmeg.  Mix on highest setting for 2 minutes.  Pour through nut bag or cheese cloth and enjoy!

 

A New York Minute with Plantar Fasciitis

Nothing is more grounding than New York City.  Manhattan’s streets cannot be stifled even in the face of an epic blizzard. My first-hand experience during the girl’s trip of a lifetime allowed me to connect to my root in a way I could have never imagined. Every present, in the moment, minute matters in New York. Here and now…right now!  While it took me a few days to wipe the smile off of my face, and to quit excusing myself in public, I did finally fall into order. By day three, a bump on the subway awarded no human interaction or acknowledgment. I am a day dreamer, and can easily be whisked away in a bundle of lost moments. In the city that never sleeps, I noticed the inability to escape and found myself hypervigilant on the task at hand, the present minute—my safety, my whereabouts, my next stop and destination, the puddle on the ground, the color of the traffic light, the accessibility of my wallet and phone, my swift order at the counter, and the nearest Starbucks for a refuel. The days concluded with a crash into deep sleep and colorful dreams.

My deficit root chakra has left me with an absence of grounding for months, years, and possibly a lifetime. At first I hated that so many people were living so connected to the here and now, this exact minute and nothing else. The realization that it is a necessary requirement for higher cultivation surprised me. Living to appreciate and to be present in every moment is something every self-help author writes about…so maybe New York is on to something. Also, where would the world be without people connected to making it run every minute of every day? Without this necessary task to reveal our best future, we’d all be fighting for survival as oppose to day dreaming about our next get-away vacation. My misconception was that everyone’s dream job entails waking up naturally, donning yoga pants, meditating, and sharing wisdom with chosen clients or friends. The hustling business world is a dream job to many, and thank God! Just like everyone else, they must find balance, which may necessitate some time spent in elevation but I obviously lack balance in time spent grounded, preparing for the next, best moment ever.

During the trip, I had the pleasure of sharing treatment ideas for plantar fasciitis (shouldn’t be a shocker immersed in New York’s ambulatory culture). So below is the information now gifted to you! Lucky you.
Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar Fasciitis produces pain on the bottom of the foot, usually on the inside arch or the heel. Typically, pain is worse upon rising and with prolonged walking. Heel wearing individuals and runners are the target population to suffer from this problem; however, everyone’s got a Vegas’ chance of suffering from this condition. What can you do?

Shoe wear—depends on specific foot type but if I stereotype the typical sufferer a more rigid sole that rocks slightly is most beneficial versus a shoe with a small heel or wedge. Guys, think cowboy boots or dress shoes. Runners, the shoe should rock slightly when sitting flat on the ground. When buying shoes bend and twist them—the shoe that moves the least and rocks slightly is best.
Inserts—again, insert type varies by foot type. A custom orthotic from a prosthetist/orthotist may be the answer; however, a semi-rigid store bought orthotic may fit the bill as well (this is what works for me). Slowly incorporate the inserts by wearing them little by little until you can tolerate them all day. It is extremely normal to have some leg, hip or back pain because the inserts are changing your body mechanics. This should resolve in a few weeks and leave you with less pain all over.
Stretching—stretch the gastroc and soleus as shown in my previous plantar fasciitis blog at https://alternativeptfortworth.com/2015/05/04/pain-in-the-foot-plantar-fasciitis/.
Night Splints—these are a great solution for chronic heel wearers and sufferers, or those that get no relief from any of the above. Simply wear them at night for an eight hour plantar fascia stretch. Find them on amazon.com and refer to my plantar fascia blog at https://alternativeptfortworth.com/2015/05/04/pain-in-the-foot-plantar-fasciitis/ for more information.
Leg dominance—switch up the leg load when resting in a standing posture. Pop your hip out to the left instead of the right or vice versa.
Leg length—if you sense one leg is longer than the other, it probably is. It’s a super common occurrence. The fix? Throw an extra Dr. Scholl’s insert into the short leg’s shoe, simple as that.
Taping—watch the following video for an effective taping technique that I use called navicular sling taping as shown at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UhvESzvHliE . There are about a million other taping videos out there so feel free to use the one that brings you the most relief. When treating a patient, I may blend or modify a few techniques. I suggest Leukotape or Rocktape (amazon.com) as it is more rigid for an all-day wear. If all day wear turns into all month wear, consider custom inserts made by an orthotist.
Tension release—MEDITATE, practice quiet stillness, breath practice, spend time with God, exhale through your muscles letting energy flow out. Peppermint oil and sea salt soaks can help too. Destressify as Davidji would say!