Tag Archives: alternativeptfortworth

What is destressifying?

“Live From The Sweet Spot” is absolutely my favorite radio show on Hay House Radio (http://www.hayhouseradio.com/#!/host/davidji).  Meditation guru and New York Times bestselling author Davidji is the host. He teaches very real, in the moment solutions for life’s stressors seeking to cultivate awareness and consciousness into the nuances of earthly existence.  His most recent book destressifying is a practical guide that helps incorporate enlightenment into our daily lives even in a never ceasing, constantly communicating, information overloaded culture.   My goal is to summarize a few of the techniques, and encourage you to GET THE BOOK–it may change your life!

Stress can be good, it’s what drives earth’s creations.  Stress is also our best teacher, leading us to our greatest accomplishments and higher selves.  Stress’s evils are nown all too well in our world today.  The ability to change the perception of stress from a negative event into a nurturing event is key to transforming your life.  The world is not out to get you, but it is out to guide you to your dharma (life purpose), and to cultivate our ever existing soul.  Sometimes humans need the brick over the head, or a life-halting moment to change gears, to repent, and to turn around!

Pattern Interrupts:  It is vital to pump the breaks as we begin to lose control and to prevent a loss of control.  Stress starts affecting our body by elevating the heart rate, causing us to perspire, and shifting hormone levels to adequately fuel the extremities to bounce into action.  Subsequently our brain goes into autopilot and we often react in a way that is regretful or physically harmful to ourselves.  A brief pattern interrupt can physiologically restore the body to a leveled sense of being so that rational, mindful decisions and reactions can be birthed.  The second you become aware of your body’s reaction to stress, Davidji suggests doing the following:

STOP, detach from the situation both physically and emotionally so that you can witness what is going on.  Pretend to be a fly on the wall, then react in a way that reflects the best version of yourself.

The book details examples that clarify, but for me the word “STOP” is the most important.  In the stressful moment, throw up an emotional, nonverbal stop sign.  If anyone else is involved in the situation, they do not have to be aware of what you are doing.  Stop because your reflexive reaction is not the imprint you want to leave behind.  Once the reflexive pattern has been interrupted, there is space to turn to the direction you wish to go.

PT application:  What is the biggest pattern interrupt of all time?  An injury, a traumatic event, a hospitalization–talk about a screeching halt!  As I mention in my blog Why Me Why Now at https://alternativeptfortworth.com/2016/01/19/why-me-and-why-now/, these events are ultimately wake up calls.  We ignore what our body is telling us on a daily basis continuing to grind through to accomplish something that in the end.  Do we even know what that something is?  By initiating the practice of pattern interrupts, I think we may be able to avoid and shift life’s screeching halts.

16 Seconds to Clarity:  If you listen to Hay House Radio Davidji offers a “meditation minute” between programs, and one of the techniques he uses is 16 seconds.  The best thing about 16 seconds is…it’s short.  If you are new to meditation or feel too busy for mediation, this is the perfect practice.  In our work-life culture, stress has become an accepted, mundane practice.  16 seconds offers a pattern interrupt to the stress-infused day.  It’s so easy–perform 16 seconds three times a day for two weeks, then observe as you effortlessly incorporate it out of habit in the days that follow.  The full version can be found on page 58 of destressifying.  Here is a summary:

Inhale deeply through the nostrils for 4 seconds, hold that breath in 4 seconds and witness it, exhale slowly 4 seconds (you may exhale through the nostrils or sigh through the mouth), hold the breath out 4 seconds and witness it dissipating into the universe.  If you have time quietly observe your normal breathing pattern in the following few seconds.

PT application:  16 seconds helps to detach your ego from the current situation.  In my practice many people have a brain block.  Their brain is convincing their body to be, act, and move in a certain way.  16 seconds allows the person to detach for a few seconds, clarify the situation, and then harmonize with the highest version of themselves.  An approach utilizing the higher self may impart utilizing a different spin or a different path to wellness as oppose to the beaten path, which translates to a new outcome for the situation.

The 5 Realms:  Consider five aspects of our existence according to our needs as identified by physical, material, spiritual, emotional, and relational needs.  Once you identify your blockages within each realm or within a particular realm, healing can begin.  We are our own ultimate healer and teacher.  Just by asking God reveals answers to us.  We just have to be open and receptive to that answer.  The 5 realms gives the human brain an objective playing ground.  More details can be found in Chapter 7!

PT application:  You can see that one of the five realms is physical.  My career has been birthed out of needs identified in the physical realm but that’s only 1/5th of the puzzle!  What I’ve come to realize is that a focus and consideration of the other four realms is essential.  When is comes to treating someone who is homeless, an abuser or abusee, an atheist, or someone without family or friends, a focus in the physical realm rewards little amount of healing.  By tapping into the deficits in the other realms, I can better tailor my treatment and education to guide my clients into healing the blockages present elsewhere.

The Importance of Relationships:  So many of us hold on so dearly to relationships that are tearing us to shreds.  It’s the one realm that requires the active participation of another individual.  Over and over I’ve identified and encountered people with physical burden due to these toxic relationships.  Yes, it may be your spouse, sibling, or dearest friend–that doesn’t make the relationship any less toxic.  A relational toxicity doesn’t mean that either person involved in the relationship is a horrible person, it simply denotes that the energy surrounding the relationship is not nurturing at this time to either of you.  Davidji offers four techniques to remedy a toxic relationship (Pg 145):  1)  Birth it–create a new relationship, start over brand new.  2)  Repair it–release the past and step into the future, (if this fails then) 3)  Shift it–create or dismiss boundaries to re-define the relationship (and if all else fails) 4)  End it–release the relationship for the time being.  When ending or shifting a relationship I always say that this doesn’t have to be forever, but for now.

Please visit Davidji’s website at http://www.davidji.com for more information

You can buy destressifying on Amazon.com

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

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!

Spinal Strengthening, No Equipment Required

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 back extensors, deep abdominals (transverse abdominis, obliques), and pelvic floor are the focus in these exercises as they are the core of the core. Here are some beginner exercises:

Tummy Tuck (Transverse abdominis): This is the exercise that prefaces ALL movements. Simply pull your belly button in very gently without holding your breath. Another way to do it is by gently pushing your back into the floor without holding your breath. It may take practice before you can do it while breathing! This can be done sitting, standing, lying, and walking. Do this throughout the day.

ab_brace

Pelvic floor: This exercise also prefaces ALL movements. Gently contract the pelvic floor as if you are stopping the flow of urine. Hold for 1-3 seconds. This can be done throughout the day as well.

Prone press up or cobra pose: Gently press up using your hands, do no lock your elbows out, your back will have to work to maintain this position. Hold 3-5 seconds and repeat.

cobra

Prone chest lift: Tighten your glutes and lift your chest keeping your arms by your side. Hold 3-5 seconds.

chest lift

Prone arm lift: First perform one arm at a time, advance with arms in a “T” position, and the hardest will be with the arms up by your ears at the same time. Hold 3-5 seconds.  Head can rest or elevate with the lift.

 

Prone leg lift: Perform one leg at a time. Progress by lifting both legs. Hold 3-5 seconds.

 

Plank: Raise your hand if you love planks! HA! Up on your hands or down on your elbows and lift your booty up in the air. Keep you abs and glutes engaged, no sagging. Hold 10-30 seconds.

 

Bridge: Lying on your back with knees bent. Simply lift your hips up in the air. This exercise can get fancy by straightening one leg after the hips are lifted. Hold 3-5 seconds.

bridge

Bow Pose or Half Bow Pose: This is the pose I dread in yoga class! Grab your ankles with your hands and push your legs out lifting your body into a bow or ball shape. Hold up to 30 seconds.

 

Back Extension Stretch: Sitting with legs crossed or up on your knees. Place your hands on your back or on your ankles (depending on how flexible you are), and bend back, let your head fall if comfortable. Hold at least 30 seconds.

 

Repetitions will vary–as few as 3 or as many as 20. Perform these exercises or some variation every week. The important thing is that you use this information to adjust your exercise routine to include specific, deep, spinal strengthening. Spinal strengthening will decrease pain and improve movement patterns which will likely result in heavier lifts (if that’s your goal) and more effective exercise.

Knee Pain: Look Above and Below

“My knees never bother me”—said no one ever. Everyone has experienced either a complex knee injury or a simple tweak that is now haunting. “Oh great, my knee doesn’t hurt anymore”…<perform max squat clean>…”Never mind.” Here’s another scenario—”I’ve never had knee pain”…<gain 10 pounds>…”Why do my knees hurt all the time?!” The knees and low back are the middle ground, Switzerland, neutral territory. With neutrality comes comprise. Our knees and back compromise when the feet, hips, and upper body battle.

Look above and look below. What does this mean? It’s important to look at the joint or structure above the knee pain and below it to fully treat the problem manifesting in the knee.

In the foot, we’re looking for over-pronation (flat feet, knock knees) or under-pronation (rigid feet, bow legged). A simple correction to a neutral foot position may remedy knee pain. This may mean changing shoe type, getting new shoes, or getting a running/walking shoe evaluation (done at many running stores on a treadmill for free).

In the hip, we are looking for a neutral pelvis, leg length, muscular weakness (typically the gluteals in adults), and muscular tightness (quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteals, piriformis), which may be affecting knee position and function. Correcting leg length in athletes may greatly reduce knee and back pain.

Here’re a couple of tips to deal with knee pain:

1)  Stretch—seriously, at least 1-2 times a week spend some quality time stretching. Stretches specific to the knee include: hamstrings, quadriceps, gluteus, piriformis, gastrocnemius, and soleus.

2)  Joint mobilization—Try a gentle knee mobilization with a towel roll hold 30 sec to 2 minutes and repeat as feels comfortable.

3)  Strengthen—Target the gluteus medius, gluteus maximus, and hamstrings.

4)  Good shoes—don’t wait until the tread wears off or until your pinky toe is sticking out to get new shoes. Generally, for those exercising daily, this means zapatos nuevos every 6 months.

5)  Correcting leg length—this may be as simple as adding an insert or heel lift in the shoe of the short leg. For significant discrepancies (greater than 1cm) the use of a shoe cobbler may be beneficial to build the shoe up from the outside.  Many times shoes can be altered (even cute sandals) with no apparent, aesthetic, difference.

heel lift

6)  Knee sleeves—I know I know…I hate to rely on supportive devices but my left knee has converted me. For those of us squatting (especially below parallel), lunging, and lifting regularly, a knee sleeve can alleviate pain during these tasks. DO NOT wear the sleeve 24/7 unless recommended to do so by a PT or physician.

knee sleeves

7)  Allow time to heal—for a solid 10 WHOLE days after the initial injury, avoid movements that exacerbate the pain. In this time, you are stretching, strengthening, and mobilizing pain limited or pain-free. You may implement knee sleeves if returning to the activity continues to cause some pain.

8)  Maintain a healthy weight—fast every now and then. From my observation, the leading cause of knee pain is carrying around too much weight. The quantity of food I can consume in one sitting has changed drastically since fasting (I’m a small lady but I can eat!). Over one year, I worked my way up to tolerating a liquid only fast for 24 hours about once a week. If I have a crazy hard workout planned on a fasting day, I definitely throw some protein powder in the mix. I also allow myself to fail if it’s getting too hard and I need dinner—I just pick it back up again next week. This practice and regular exercise keep me in check.

**all of these recommendations are in the absence of a severe injury that requires medical attention such as a fracture, or ligamentous tear. You’ll know its severe if the pain intensity stays the same and function continues to be inhibited or impossible.

How to Heal Yourself: A quick crash course

As a physical therapist, my career is to help people discover what needs to be done to heal. There are however several concepts I use over and over that can be taught in a preventative way and administered independently. Every person possesses and is made of healing energy. Therefore, every person has the ability to heal themselves to some degree. A skilled therapist should always encourage and teach the patient how to maintain therapeutic gains. This blog was inspired by two books I am reading: Becoming a Supple Leopard by Dr. Kelly Starrett and Dying to Be Me by Anita Moorjani. The important thing about self-healing is that you have to practice it every day. I’m a bit of a hypocrite in saying this but at least try MOST of the time…I’ve noticed a difference with this approach and am striving to make it an everyday occurrence. Below I’ve outlined several techniques I use to self-heal:

Physical Therapist are skilled practitioners who utilize joint mobilization to regain functional, pain free mobility. In the absence of severe impairments, a healthy person may be able to administer joint mobility techniques to prevent injury and to make athletic gains.

Foam Rolling: I think the most universal piece of equipment for mobility and pain reduction is the foam roll. You can pretty much hit it all with the roller. Smaller, pin pointed areas are a bit more difficult to target. The most important thing to remember about foam rolling is to concentrate on a specific area for a bit. You don’t want to roll your entire spine or body at once. Pick a segment no more than 6 inches or so, and hang out until the tissue releases (this may take up 2 minutes or more–for me, it’s AT LEAST 40 seconds but may vary by person). There are about a million things and ways to roll. I’d search the internet and find some you feel are right for you.

**Rolling can be very uncomfortable, it’s important to breath, relax, and find your happy place. I promise, you will feel so much better once the tissue releases.

Lacrosse Ball and Shiatsu: Rolling on the lacrosse ball allows a targeted release. I use the ball if I’m trying to release trigger points around the shoulder blades, mobilize a rib or specific spinal segment, and mobilize the shoulder. If you can’t fathom the idea of being active anymore in one day, I recommend a shiatsu massage pillow that allows you to be more passive in the mobilization. I use my shiatsu pillow about once a week to release tension in my neck and shoulders.

Yoga (Yin Yoga): Many, if not all, of the mobilization positions are adapted from traditional yoga poses. You may not be able to fully get into each pose but simply do what your body will allow. Modifications such as props, pillows, and foot stools can be used so that you can hang out for a while to reach the release we are looking for. YouTube has great beginner Yin yoga videos that I’ve used effectively. Pick the video that suits your body.

Self-Mobilization: Some of you may be totally turned off by anything CrossFit related but I’M TELLING YOU Dr. Starrett is a physical therapist who has developed a series of joint mobilizations that REALLY WORK and can be done outside of the clinic. They are grounded in the same principles PTs all over the world use. Like I said, a healthy person can safely perform these to reduce pain, increase range of motion, and improve athletic performance.

Flossing, Cross Friction, and Scar Massage: When muscles are tethered down due to scaring, or tightness associated with habitual postures, trigger points, and chronic inflammation it is important to restore the natural glide between our skin, fascia, and muscles. Nothing is meant to be stuck together. Voodoo flossing, cross friction massage, and scar massage all target the restoration of soft tissue gliding. The principles are pretty simple and you can google these techniques to learn more. Anyone with a significant scar should definitely make sure that thing is moving adequately.

Energy Healing: The power and ability to heal ultimately lies within us. Negative thoughts, feelings, and emotions can quickly manifest to disease. Being disconnected from your God self and tethered to your earth self creates a path toward destruction. Worldly things are destructible but heavenly are eternal. We have the ability to harness the eternal and utilize high vibrational energy to evoke healing and ease. Anita Moorjani in her book describes a near death experience that illuminated her life and life purpose. Love and knowing that we are all connected residing in God’s presence is key. By truly believing this alone can raise your vibration and decrease disease. Anita does not describe specific techniques but encourages living life fearlessly.

I truly believe positive thinking can change illness. I did not say cure but change it. Again, there are many, many ways to improve your thinking without a near death experience. Mediation and prayer are a great start, realizing that no matter what state you are in, you have the ability to help and create positive change in people…you are so valuable to this universe! Chakra balancing, Reiki, Kundalini yoga, and other energy healing practices exist and may aide you in discovering your higher self and purpose.

Rotator Cuff: Core stability for the shoulder

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 like the big guys.  A good yoga and meditation practice will assist you in relaxing over worked muscles.  Gentle strengthening, stabilization, and balance will advance your shoulder strength and reduce over use pain.

Guys…everyday cannot by bicep day. Girls…everyday cannot be leg day. Take at LEAST one day a week to incorporate these small, but difficult exercises into your strengthening program to improve lifting strength, and to decrease nagging shoulder, and even neck and mid back pain.

I don’t care how strong you are, scapular strengthening is hard, so use light weights and/or bands. Also movements are small because the muscles are small, so don’t substitute large movements utilizing large muscles.

Two bands are utilized in these pictures.  We have them mounted to a peg board in the garage.  I would recommend a very light band, a light/medium band, and a medium/firm band for these exercises.  If the bands are too firm, an injury or larger muscle substitution occurs, which defeats the purpose.  There are a variety of ways to set the bands up.  Perform 8-12 repetitions of each exercise:

External rotation: Facing toward the bands, lift the arms to 90 degrees and gently rotate, pulling backward.

ER

Internal rotation:  Face away from the bands, elbows up at 90 degrees.  Gently pull forward rotating the arms down.

IR

Single arm external and internal rotation:  Keep the elbow by the side.  Gently pull in with the hand closest to the band (internal rotation) or pull out with the hand farthest from the band (external rotation).  This is a very small movement!

IRER

Scapular protraction or Serratus Anterior punch: Gently push your shoulder blade out.  This is a very small movement as well.

serratus

I, T, Y, W: Starting point (1st picture).  I (2nd picture) pull the bands by your sides squeezing the shoulder blades and sticking the chest out. T (3rd picture) arms are raised to 90 degrees, gently pull the band back squeezing the shoulder blades together.   Y (4th picture) arms are up at 90 degrees, gently pull the band up forming a Y squeezing shoulder blades down and in.W (5th picture) pull the band back forming a W with the arms pull the shoulder blades down and in.

I,T,W,Y

Additional Information:

The rotator cuff consists of four muscles: supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, and subscapularis.

Other important shoulder/scapular stabilizers include: Teres major, subscapularis, latissimus dorsi, infraspinatus, teres minor, posterior deltoid, serratus anterior, levator scapulae, rhomboid major and minor, middle and lower trapezius.

Neck and Shoulder Pain

Nagging neck, mid back, and shoulder pain often impedes, disrupts, or prevents peaceful sleep, and makes sitting, standing, and working in an upright position pure torture.  No matter the cause of the pain, I have created a simple list of easy, in the moment fixes as well as advanced techniques to take it a step further.

As is my soap box–the majority of our pain is a result of some habitual posture.  Balance and symmetry are key here to shift spinal pressures.  When pressures are shifted, the spine gets to “breathe.”  It is extremely important to get up and move out of habitual postures every 15-30 minutes.  You can try the following stretches while taking your posture break:  Standing pec stretch for the anterior neck, an upper trap stretch for the side of the neck, and a back extension stretch for the thoracic spine, and a wall pec/side/anterior neck stretch.  Hold each stretch for approximately 30 seconds to 2 minutes.

trapstanding pec stretchstanding back extensionwall pec

My seconds soap box–Sit with good posture.  Poor posture places more harmful stress through your spine than lifting heavy objects.  Hers how to sit with good posture:

  1.  Scoot your butt all the way back in the seat
  2. You may place a towel roll in your lumbar spine (optional)
  3. Place your shoulder blades on the seat back.  This is the most important step for neck pain sufferers!
  4. Adjust your workstation to accommodate this.  This is the only that position allows your neck muscle to relax.

Here are some additional exercises:

Upper trap stretch with 1st rib mobilization:  The first rib and clavicle often become elevated with neck tension.  Use a belt to mobilize the rib and clavicle down.  This will give an even deeper trap stretch.  belt trap

Self lateral neck traction:  If the pain is present predominantly on one side of the neck or mid back try this: Lie on the non-painful side with 1-2 pillows at your shoulder (not your head). Now hang your head and relax. This acts to open up the painful side of the neck and mid back. Also, this is an easy position to rest in.  This is a form of lateral decompression.  Hold 2-5 minutes.self lateral traction

Eagle pose arms only: Hold for a few breaths or 30 seconds. Now move the arms up for 30 seconds, and down for 30 seconds.  This stretches the posterior neck and shoulder.eagle pose arms only

Decompress with a shoulder stand and/or plow pose: Both act to provide traction through the neck and spine.  Hold 30 sec to 2 minutes

shoulder standplow pose

Floor Pec stretch:  This opens up the shoulders and lengthens the anterior neck.  Hold 1-3 minutesfloor pec

Threading Pose:  This stretches the back of the shoulders and neck.  Hold 1-3 minutesthreading

Towel Roll (rolled hand towel, you may also duck tape it for durability):  Rest with a towel roll running down the center of your back (vertically) or running along the shoulder blades at the most painful area of the mid back (horizontally). This mobilizes painful vertebrae and compresses painful trigger points.towel

Breathe: Take several deep breaths throughout the day. Send the breath to the painful area. Inhale 3-5 seconds, hold 3-5 seconds, and exhale 3-5 seconds, focusing on relaxation on the exhale.  Repeat 3-5 cycles.breathe

Strengthen the rotator cuff.  You can google specific exercises.  I like I, T, Y, rows, and external rotation.  (I will update my shoulder blog soon with specifics on this!)

Relax the jaw: Throughout the day and when trying to drift to sleep, remind yourself to relax the muscles around the jaw and let it drop slightly.relax jaw

Shiatsu massage pillow and Lacrosse Ball:  You can buy shiatsu massage pillows on amazon.com, I recommend one that has a timer to prevent skin breakdown if you fall asleep.  Using a lacrosse ball against a wall or lying down, find the nauseating trigger points around your scapula (shoulder blade), upper traps, and posterior neck.  Push the ball into the trigger points and hold 30sec -2 minutes OR until you feel a relaxation.  lacrosse

Reduce the Pillowage:  People with neck pain typically need to sleep with a flat pillow, tempurpedic pillow, or no pillow at all.  If you sleep with multiple pillows start slowly reducing that number.

Chakras:  Investigate the balance or malady present in the heart, throat, third eye, and crown chakra.  Clear energetic blockages or buildup that may  be present from early childhood or from the recent past or present.