Monthly Archives: May 2016

Spinal Strengthening, No Equipment Required

Alternative PT Fort Worth

Simple spinal strengthening is an important key to resolving neck and back pain. It’s all about symmetry. Not only symmetry right to left but front to back as well. As my OT friend says “the world is in front of us,” making it difficult to balance spinal flexion with extension. Over flexion promotes postural pain and overuse pain syndromes in the neck and back. One of my token soap boxes is that God made our bodies to move in all planes so we must continue to utilize every plane to prevent pain and treat pain. In the present age we utilize our extensors less for climbing trees and swinging and over use our flexors for sitting and reaching.

Done a back bend lately? Pretended to fly like superman? Well tusk tusk! Spinal strengthening doesn’t require equipment, and the exercises are simple but the difficulty is unbelievable. The deep and superficial…

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Rotator Cuff: Core stability for the shoulder

Alternative PT Fort Worth

Most people associate any type of shoulder pain as a problem with the rotator cuff. It’s important to understand that the rotator cuff is not one muscle but a combination of muscles that surround the shoulder and scapula. These muscles act with the ligaments and labrum to stabilize the shoulder and allow it to function in all ranges. Its job is pretty intense because the shoulder must be very dynamic. If the shoulder is injured, often the elbow, wrist, and hand cannot do their jobs. Various other muscles help to stabilize the shoulder as well, so don’t get hung up on strengthening only the rotator cuff. The rotator cuff and scapular stabilizers are much smaller than the overlaying musculature (deltoid, biceps, triceps, pecs) and are often under strengthened and prone to over-use type injuries. Poor posture and poor body mechanics anger small, stabilizing muscles because they are forced to work…

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Headaches

Headaches have many causes which may stem from the neck, shoulder, TMJ, mid back, ear, sinuses, cervical (neck) ligament laxity, vestibular (inner ear) disturbances, dizziness, muscle tension, lack of sleep, anxiety, postural pain syndrome, high blood pressure, head trauma, seizures, strokes, and poor nutrition…to name a few thousand.  From the preceding list it’s very obvious why Tylenol and Ibuprofen have a thriving market!  What is the simplest cure to decreased headache pain and frequency?  Once traditional routes to a cure are exhausted, consider the role of the following:

Poor nutrition and/or allergic responses

Nutritional deficits and maladies are the root of all illness.  Nutritional imbalance fires up the systemic inflammatory response, which often spirals to chronic illness when uncorrected.  Chronic inflammation, or as I like to think of it an over worked immune system, sets the stage for almost every disease process.  SO to be short and sweet, nutritional deficiency or imbalance could be the fix to MANY of the previously stated culprits leading to headaches and migraines.  How do you fix nutrition?  Start in the produce aisle. For more details see also my nutrition blogs below.

Examine your household and body care products as well.  Many people have an allergic response to their most favorite scents and products.  Examine fabric softener, detergent, hairspray, perfume, body wash, shampoo, soap, toothpaste…OH MY!  Go for products that are “free and clear” or safe to use on infants and children as these contain fewer preservatives and allergens.  Don’t forget that you absorb everything that touches your skin.

Ligament laxity

If the ligaments of the upper neck are over stretched or loose for any reason, this could cause chronic migraines or headaches.  Diseases such as lupus, RA, fibromyalgia, any connective tissue disorder, MS, and multiple other neurological processes as well as trauma can cause this laxity or looseness to occur.  A surgical procedure may be an option but many times the only cure is gentle cervical strengthening.

Vestibular disturbances/dizziness

Dizziness has many causes as well which may or may not be related to the vestibular system (inner ear), and is often related to neck pain or dysfunction.  There are specific vestibular exercises a skilled physical therapist can address to reduce headaches.  See also nutrition as nutrition serves the viability of the vestibular system.

History of head trauma

Headaches are also related to traumatic events such as a car wrecks, falls, gunshot wounds, stab wounds, scarring from burns, or concussions (this is not an exhausted list).  Many times addressing neck, shoulder, mid-back, and TMJ issues act to resolve tension-type headaches.  Those headaches more neural in nature such as migraines may be better addressed with diet or specialized surgical procedures (orthopedic or neurological).

TMJ

Tension in the jaw is created often by stress, anxiety, and worry.  Meditation, breath practice, and emotional release help to alleviate anxiety and worry that create stress and tension.  Also simply cueing yourself to “relax my jaw” throughout the day and right before drifting to sleep may help.  Mouth guards are also useful but not the cure.  The aforementioned spiritual practices have been shown to be very effective in releasing the jaw to reduce headaches.  There are situations that warrant specialized dental or oral surgery to correct TMJ issues, which may also alleviate or eliminate headache pain and frequency.

Neck and shoulder

Neck and shoulder pain create muscle tension.  Many of the neck and shoulder muscles attach directly to the skull so it should be no surprise that tension here can create headache pain.  Limited shoulder mobility and pain often creates neck disturbances as well see my neck and shoulder blogs below for more information.

Role of breath practice, postural change, sleep, and meditation

Breath practice works to replenish the brain and body with life sustaining, and repairing oxygen.  Oxygen’s life force is healing and promotes optimal muscular and neurological firing, which will ease the pain associated with headaches.

When we sit or work in a prolonged posture or position blood is shunted in a specific direction often crippling adequate flow to the head and neck.  Practicing postural change for even a few seconds every 15 minutes will produce a more oxygen rich environment within the head and body.  Postural pain and prolonged positions have also recently been associated with depression.

Meditation is directly correlated with improved sleep patterns.  It aides in more restful sleep allowing our bodies to enter healing, repair, and regeneration mode (see also my meditation and sleep blogs below).   Without sleep our bodies are never allotted the time to heal.  Without sleep chronic pain, disease, and illness is almost inevitable.

Links:

Meditation Blogs:  https://alternativeptfortworth.com/2016/05/05/the-secret/, https://alternativeptfortworth.com/2016/03/10/what-is-destressifying/

Sleep Blog:  https://alternativeptfortworth.com/2016/04/01/stop-fighting-your-sleep/

Neck and Shoulder Blog:  https://alternativeptfortworth.com/2015/06/04/neck-and-shoulder-pain/

Postural Pain Blog:  https://alternativeptfortworth.com/2015/05/12/postural-pain/

Nutrition Blogs:  https://alternativeptfortworth.com/2016/04/21/a-dose-of-medical-medium/, https://alternativeptfortworth.com/2016/02/18/offensive-health/, https://alternativeptfortworth.com/2016/02/06/on-the-radio-the-earth-diet/

I will be discussing the roles of meditation relating to spirituality and how to start a meditation program in an upcoming mentoring program called Spirit and spirits.  Please visit https://alternativeptfortworth.com/spirits-and-spirit/ for more information!

The Secret

Who wants to cultivate mindfulness?  Who wants to develop a deeper relationship with God? Who wants to work on vision, intuition, and clarity?  MEDITATE!  In his book Secrets of Meditation, Davidji keeps it simple when encouraging and teaching the foundations of meditation and how to finally get started.

“Prayer is talking to God; meditation is listening.”  As a spiritual intuitive, meditation is something I’ve naturally been doing for years.  Slipping into the gap has been a hobby of mine from the time I can remember thoughts.  Now that I’ve read this book, I realize it was actually a form of sound meditation.  Ever since I can remember, I have the “gift” of drifting off.  How do I do this?  Certain sounds and vibrations take me away.  I simply listen to the vibration of a lawn mower, the air conditioner, someone’s tapping pencil, the water faucet, the dogs barking…and I’m off.  The utilization of honoring the vibration of sound has always quieted my mind.  My co-workers are amazed at my focus and ability to day dream in the most crowded and busiest of environments.  The ability to disconnect from the world and connect to the collective consciousness or higher self has set the stage and cultivated my understanding and acceptance of the world and that which is beyond.

Here’s my brief summary

Meditation has many benefits.  Our physiology, psychology, and biochemistry change.  We eliminate knee jerk reactions and replace them with conscious, purposeful reactions.  The production of stress hormones, heart and respiratory rates, and platelet production decreases and our immune system, sex hormones, and growth hormones increase.  There are many more transformative benefits of meditation that can only be discovered by starting a practice.

There are many methods of meditation that include biofeedback, the use of a mandala, Buddhist meditation, chanting, primordial sound, and breath awareness to name a few.  Meditation is not a religious practice, it simply unifies you with your higher, enlightened self and brings many closer to God.

Meditation employs concepts based in yoga, which means union, pure being, and acts to provide mental cultivation that resonates with unconditional love and compassion.  A mantra or chant acts as a mind vehicle to get us where we’re meditatively and wakefully going.  It allows the meditator to disconnect from the sounds or words and enter into the space between thoughts known as the gap that is beyond labels.  To pick a mantra, simply go with what resonates and vibrates with you now.  Here are a few examples he gives:

  • Aham brahmasmi—I am the universe
  • Moksha—I am emotionally free
  • I am or So Hum
  • Om or Aum—the sound of the universe
  • Yogastha Kuru Karmani—established in oneness perform action
  • Trust

What is the gap?  It’s the space between thoughts, which is where you find you.  The gap reveals your unbound potential.  You are not defined by your thoughts, and you cannot tell you are in the gap until your thoughts bring you out of your meditative state.

Stop trying, stop expecting just keep up the practice!  Don’t let thoughts, sounds, and sensations distract you.  Simply let them be.  We are human and cannot avoid experiencing any of these.  Simply witness it, accept it, and let it go returning back to the mantra, which can always override the others.  “Let it come; let it go; be unconcerned.”

You know you’re a successful meditator if any of the following happen:  You fall asleep, you have dancing thoughts, or you drift into stillness and silence known as being in the gap.  The gap opens up infinite possibilities, which you can materialize when your eyes open.  Through meditation the understanding and acceptance of life develop and deepen.  Meditation allows you to simply BE not just DO.  In fact DOing hinders the experience.

Here’s how to start a successful practice:

RPM—rise, pee, meditate 10-30 minutes.  Ritualize the practice, do this every day for 21-40 days.  You may also…

RAW—right after work, meditate an additional 10-30 minutes.

What I’ve learned after 21 days of meditation

  • Sometimes I’m in the gap, sometimes I’m not.
  • Sometimes I never find the gap.
  • Sometimes I can’t say the mantra very loud. Sometimes I whisper it, sometimes I just think it.
  • Sometimes I fall asleep…and snore.
  • I need environmental sounds playing while I meditate.
  • Sometimes I have to jog on the treadmill before I meditate because I’m very sleepy at 5:30am! So RRPM (rise, run, pee, meditate)
  • I need a blanket every time. Anytime I’m uncomfortable, I adjust.
  • Sometimes I sit, sometimes I lie down. I keep my legs however they are most comfortable.
  • Sometimes I have intense visualizations filled with people, animals, nature, and symbols, but most of the time I don’t—I just appreciate the vibration of the mantra and my voice.