Advantage Healthcare Systems' Blog
2 Lower Back Pain Symptoms That Require Immediate Medical Attention
Lower back pain is typically not a cause for serious alarm, but if you experience the following two symptoms related to lower back pain you should seek immediate medical attention:
1. Progressive leg weakness
Progressive weakness in your lower extremities (legs and/or feet) may be a symptom of cauda equina syndrome (you may also feel weakness in your hips, genital area, and buttocks). Cauda equina syndrome is usually caused by an injury to your spine, a spinal condition, or an infection that results in the severe compression of your entire nerve sac in your lumbar spine.
The name cauda equina comes from the Latin for "horse’s tail," as the nerves at the end of your spine share a resemblance with a horse’s tail.
Treatment for cauda equina syndrome typically entails immediate surgical decompression to reduce or eliminate the pressure on your affected nerves. If left untreated for too long, cauda equina syndrome may lead to paralysis, loss of sensation below your lumbar spine, and a loss of bladder and/or bowel control.
2. Acute back pain with abdominal pain
If you experience the sudden onset of lower back pain that is not clearly connected with an injury or other cause, you may be suffering from an abdominal aortic aneurysm.
The aorta is your body’s main artery, and it stretches from your heart all the way through your abdomen. As a general rule, if an abdominal aortic aneurysm results in severe abdominal and/or back pain it is considered life-threatening, as it likely indicates a rupture. Other life-threatening indicators may include symptoms of shock as well as low blood pressure.
If your abdominal aortic aneurysm is not detected until it reaches the point of an emergency, you will likely need immediate surgery to repair your ruptured artery.
The above list is not comprehensive, as other symptoms like unexplained fever and bowel and/or bladder incontinence also require immediate medical attention. But the bottom line is that it is better to be overly cautious when it comes to addressing potentially dangerous lower back pain symptoms. So when in doubt, seek medical care.
5 Effective Exercises for Leg Pain During Pregnancy
While you await the arrival of your precious baby, you may be feeling new kinds of aches and pains. Leg and joint pain during the second or third trimester may be the result of added weight, changing body shape, and biomechanics. It can also be caused by fluid retention and joint laxity.
Pregnancy pain can have an impact on daily life and cause changes in sleep quantity and quality. Some common pregnancy aches include swollen and painful feet and legs, and calf cramps. Some women also report radiating pain down the back of the legs and hip pain.
Another common pregnancy symptom is swelling. Many pregnant women report swelling of the:
Mild swelling is a normal part of pregnancy. It happens because of the 50 percent increase in blood and bodily fluids needed to support the growing baby. But excessive swelling can be a sign of a more severe pregnancy complication. If you experience severe swelling, it’s important to be evaluated by a doctor.
Pregnancy back pain is widely studied, but there’s less research on hip, knee, and foot pain during pregnancy and postpartum. A study published in the Journal of Family Practice reports a high occurrence of low body pain among pregnant and postpartum women. It’s most likely related to changes in the way a pregnant woman moves due to a growing baby belly.
Try these exercises to help decrease swelling, pain, and discomfort during pregnancy.
1. Ankle Pumps
Swollen feet and ankles are common during pregnancy. This simple exercise helps increase circulation and blood flow to the feet to decrease swelling and pain.
Equipment needed: none
Muscles worked: ankle dorsiflexors, plantarflexors
- Lie on a bed with your feet slightly elevated on a pillow.
- Begin by pulling your toes toward your face to flex your feet, then point your toes away from you.
- Repeat 10 times continuously.
- Perform 3 sets.
2. Calf Stretches
Some women suffer from sore calf muscles during pregnancy. This might be caused by weight gain, poor body mechanics, or improper footwear. Stretching can help promote relaxation of the muscles, leading to decreased pain.
Equipment needed: a wall
Muscles worked: gastrocnemius, soleus
- Stand to face a wall. Place both hands on the wall for support.
- Put one foot up against the wall with your toes pointing toward the ceiling.
- Lean toward the wall, keeping your leg straight until you feel a stretch in the back of your lower leg.
- Hold for 20-30 seconds. Repeat on other leg.
3. Good Mornings
Tight hamstrings can cause low back pain and discomfort during pregnancy. This exercise helps stretch the hamstrings. It also activates and strengthens the muscles of the buttocks.
Equipment needed: none
Muscles worked: hamstrings, glutes
- Stand with your feet parallel, hip-width apart.
- Put your hands behind your head and stand up tall, keeping your chest wide.
- Keep your legs relatively straight with a slight bend in your knees. Bend at the hips, moving them back as you lower yourself toward parallel. Bend until you feel a stretch in the back of your legs. Try to keep your back in a straight line.
- Move slowly through this movement 10 times.
- Perform 3 sets.
4. Wall Squats with Ball
This exercise can increase strength and stability in the muscles of the lower back and core. It also works the quadriceps, the important muscles that support the ligaments of the knee.
Equipment needed: exercise ball
Muscles worked: gluteus maximus, hamstrings, deep core muscles
- Stand against a wall with an exercise ball positioned between your midback and the wall.
- Place your feet far enough away from the wall so that when you lower down into a squat, your knees can bend to 90 degrees. Having your feet too close to the wall will put stress on the knee joint. Feet should be parallel and a little wider than hip-width apart.
- Lower your body down into a sitting position while rolling the ball up your back.
- Hold for 1 second, return to starting position. Repeat 10 times.
5. Glute and Hamstring Foam Rolling
Sciatic pain is common during pregnancy. It can cause shooting or aching pain down the buttocks, back of the leg, and foot. Foam rolling is a great way to soothe and relax tight muscles that may be contributing to increased pain.
Equipment needed: foam roller
Muscles worked: hamstrings, calf muscles, glutes, piriformis
- Place a foam roller on the ground.
- Sit on the foam roller, supporting yourself with your hands behind you.
- Cross one foot over the other knee in a figure 4 position.
- Slowly move your buttocks back and forth over the foam roller until you find a tender spot.
- Continue this movement over the tender area for 30-60 seconds.
- Try rolling the foam roller down the back of your upper leg until you find another tender area.
- Repeat on other side.
Exercises and stretching can have a positive effect on mobility during pregnancy. They can also help decrease pain and dysfunction. The 2002 guidelines for physical activity during pregnancy recommend regular exercise for its overall health benefits to both mom and baby.
Always see your doctor before starting an exercise program to make sure it’s safe. Discontinue exercise and seek medical help if you have any of the following symptoms:
- vaginal bleeding
- dyspnoea before exertion
- chest pain
- muscle weakness
- calf pain or swelling
- preterm labor
- decreased fetal movement
- amniotic fluid leakage
Calf or leg pain can be a symptom of a more serious condition like a blood clot or thrombosis. Seek immediate medical attention if you have pain accompanied by redness, warmth, or swelling in the calf.
Choosing A Pillow For Neck Pain & Better Sleep
Christmas is the time of giving, but it is alsothe perfect time to invest in yourself. .What better present to give than the gift of sleep.
If you have been waking up with a stiff neck or nursing neck pain all year, it may be time to change your pillow.
But which one is best for you?
Nowadays there are more types of pillows on the market than there are styles of jeans. So choosing the right one for you can be daunting. But just like jeans, it's important to find the right fit for your body shape in order to get maximum comfort.
When next buying a pillow, hear are some useful things to consider
- Pillow Shape: The right shape of pillow for you is dependent on your sleeping position. If you are a side sleeper, opt for a peanut shaped pillow to give you adequate neck and shoulder support. For those back sleepers out there, a standard rectangular pillow will meet your needs.
- Pillow height: Regardless of how you sleep, the appropriate pillow will be tall enough to provide neck and shoulder support and keep your neck parallel to the bed. For example, if you have broad shoulders a high profile pillow is better for you, whereas a low profile pillow is suited for those with smaller frames or back sleepers.
- Pillow density: This is probably the most confusing. Pillows today can be made from memory foam, feathers, beans, cotton and even bamboo! Ideally when sleeping your pillow should be firm enough to keep your neck parallel to the bed and soft enough to accommodate your shoulder. The choice of material is completely up to your personal preference.
We spend 7-9 hours a day sleeping so it's important to do it right in order to get the maximum benefits. If you or someone you know suffers from neck pain, why not give them the gift of sleep this Christmas?
What It Feels Like To Have Anxiety And Depression At The Same Time
Anxiety and depression are two mental illnesses that go hand-in-hand. One half of all people diagnosed with anxiety will also be diagnosed with depression. The real tragedy behind those statistics is that anxiety and depression are highly treatable, but the majority of people suffering are hesitant to seek help.
I know what I'm talking about, because I suffer from both disorders, and in order to stay alive I have had to do my homework. If you're anxious and depressed, you probably have too.
People who suffer from both conditions are six times more likely to be hospitalized for psychiatric reasons than others. But while facing the two disorders together can feel doubly daunting, it isn't impossible—I'm going to say that again because if you've made your way to this article it's important you hear it. It isn't impossible.
You can do this.
It's hard to explain to people who aren't anxious and depressed simultaneously just what it's like to have these two disorders battle it out in your brain. Because it's so hard to talk about, you might find the very notion of explaining how you're living day to day an impossible feat, even to family and friends.
I hope this will help. Below, I've shared eight common struggles people who are both anxious and depressed face every day.
1. Sleep is a real challenge.
When you have anxiety and depression, sleep problems are really common. For some it's insomnia, for others it's sleeping too much! My anxiety can make it really hard for me to sleep at night because I start thinking about how one day I will die and that triggers a panic attack. Then in the morning, because of my depression, getting myself to wake up can be a major struggle.
2. It's hard to keep up with friendships.
When you have anxiety and depression, your personal relationships can really suffer. As a person with depression, I have to work very hard not to fixate on irrational fears like the fact that I'm not "good enough" to be anyone's friend.
As a person with anxiety, however desperate I might be for companionship, I find myself repeatedly cancelling plans because the idea of having to leave the house and interact is sometimes more than I can handle. It's easy to write off a person with anxiety and depression as a "flake" or someone who isn't interested in your friendship, but sufferers of anxiety and depression know this couldn't be further from the truth. Sometimes we just can't do it.
Don't beat yourself up about this if it's something that happens to you. Your real friends will understand if you're honest with them about what's happening. Just make sure you continue to communicate. Better to be honest and risk embarrassment then to stay quiet and potentially lose a friend.
3. Managing work stress is incredibly hard.
Because of my depression, finding a job that makes me happy can be challenging. As a depressed person it is hard to be excited about anything. As an anxious person, having a job is great because the routine can feel really stabilizing. What doesn't feel so great is the constant panic that you aren't doing your best work or that you're a fraud and any second you could be fired.
The goal is to find a job you love and you'll have to work really hard to convince yourself that you even deserve it.
I struggle with this one on a daily basis. I love my job! And I love the people I work with! But I constantly worry that I'm not working HARD enough or being enough of a team player or that my endless array of typos will have me filing for unemployment. I remind myself when these feelings come over me that depression and anxiety LIE. I do my best work, and if I'm concerned about something ACTUAL I talk to my boss about it.
4. Getting motivated enough to work out is rare (but so important).
When you have depression and anxiety, exercise can be really beneficial. Studies have shown the positive effects of exercise on emotional well-being. My anxiety makes me desperate to find a way to burn off the jittery "bad" energy, but my depression can make me feel too lethargic to even think about getting up, let alone hitting the gym.
One way to combat this feeling is to do small exercises at home. Even simple stretching can make you feel better. For me it's about separating shame from the equation and remembering that exercise doesn't have to be a crazy treadmill session, it can be something small that makes me feel good.
5. Visiting the dentist is terrifying.
Because of my anxiety, I constantly grind my teeth. I do it while working, I do it while sleeping, I do it at the gym, I do it going for a walk. It's a terrible habit. I should go to the dentist. But I feel a lot of shame about going to see a dentist, because during my depressive episodes I seriously ignore taking care of my teeth. Add anxiety to the equation and I'm sure my dentist will judge me for my failings, a thought that is more than my anxious self can bear.
I immediately confess my panic to my dentist now whenever I go to see her. Being scared of the dentist isn't an uncommon thing, and yours would much rather talk you through your panic than have to do mountains of work because you have skipped years of visits. Take it from someone who has skipped years of visits.
6. Sometimes I forget to take care of myself.
My depression makes me rip myself apart. I can stare in a mirror and seriously think I'm too ugly to exist. This can lead to a lack of self-care. I neglect myself, don't take showers, don't wash my clothes. When my anxiety can't take it anymore, I'll try to pull myself together but even that can seem so totally overwhelming. Breaking your routine down into baby steps can help with this a lot.
7. Being in a messy house affects me in a huge way.
My anxiety makes me want to clean, it makes me want to fix everything. That should be good, but it can actually keep me from getting real work done, which in turn leads to stress which in turn leads to MORE anxiety. My depression can immobilize me altogether. Feeling really uncomfortable in a dirty space but being physically unable to rally the energy to do anything about the mess is a brutal mixture of emotions.
8. It hurts when people don't take my feelings seriously.
As a person with anxiety and depression, it can be hard to handle everyday confrontations without your mental illnesses being used against you. If you express annoyance at a roommate for not buying new milk, or ask a coworker if they can hurry up and file that report, it doesn't help to be met with eye rolls and comments like, "What, are you off your medication or something?" My anxiety and my depression don't make all of my feelings and complaints invalid, and I don't appreciate being gaslighted.
9. I'm constantly afraid something will happen to the people I love.
Because of my anxiety I am constantly worrying about different members of my family. Anxiety replaces normal love with worry and fear. My depression makes talking on the phone difficult for me to do, and my family lives all over the country. Checking in with them is hard and can strangely make me seem like I don't care at all. Nothing could be further from the truth.
This is another case of communication saving the day. Let your family know why the phone is hard for you and I bet they can find other ways of communicating. In my family, we're big FaceTime fans.
10. Finding the right medication combinations takes time (and patience).
Oh boy, this is a big one. Finding a combination of drugs that work for you can be a lifelong struggle. The pill you take to make you happy might exacerbate your anxiety. The pill that stops your anxious brain from running in circles might make your depression worse. It sucks. Luckily, it's a process and there are doctors and therapists who can help get you through it.
11. Sometimes I feel alone...and like things will never get better.
Anxiety can make you feel like you are running in circles and not getting anywhere. Depression can make you feel like it doesn't matter because nothing matters anyway. This in turn makes you anxious. It's a snake eating its own tail, a horrible seemingly endless vicious cycle.
It was hard to sit down and write these things out. That's because I am (knock on wood) in a pretty good place. I manage both my anxiety and my depression with medication and therapy as needed. I've come a long way. But it's shockingly easy to access these feelings and emotions, easier still to pulled back into the way they feel when you're having them—which is miserable to the extreme.
You don't have to go through this alone, and that vicious cycle is one you can break.
For every "friend" who doesn't get what's wrong with you, there's another ready and waiting to support you. Forty million people suffer from anxiety and depression in the United States alone, and like you, they are fighting every single day.
If you feel alone, remember that you aren't. If you feel like you need help, it's there for you. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America is a great resource if you think it's time to find help.
When Your Neck Pain Leads to Migraines
Sometimes, when a person gets a headache it begins to manifest itself as a pain in the neck. What's happening is that muscles throughout the body are slowly tightening, until that tightening reaches the muscles in the head and the result is a cervicogenic headaches.
Of course, there are various ways to deal with that pain, but there is only one way to get to the source of that pain. We'll look at those methods of finding pain relief for these types of headaches, and give you all of the facts you'll need to know in order to make an informed decision of how to find relief from any more headaches.
This usually begins with analgesics such as aspirin, NSAIDs and acetaminophen; but the effects of these is different with different patients. Doctors will sometimes prescribe multiple drugs in order to help patients find headache relief, but that can often lead to rebound migraines.
Another type of medication that may be used are Opioids, which are administered using a sustained release medication around the clocks. The use of this method is meant to control constant headaches is used to avoid any rebound headaches. This method may include various blocking techniques, including the following:
- trigger point injections
- facet joint blocks
- nerve root blocks
- occipital nerve blocks
- segmental nerve root blocks
The Problem with the Medical Solution
Of course, the problem with this method, or with taking medication, is that is only gives the sufferer temporary relief, if any relief at all, and it always comes with the risk of causing rebound headaches. The truth is that these types of headaches could be signs of cervical spine dysfunction, which means the only way to get to the source of that pain is to entrust your care to someone who can help your spine function properly.
So, no matter what medication or medical procedure you hear about on television or your doctor tells you about, you always want to seek the underlying cause your migraines. An upper cervical chiropractor can do just that by examining your upper neck vertebrae for any misalignments that may be causing any pressure on your brainstem which is a common cause of migraines. That pressure that hinders your brain's ability to communicate with your body.
10 Natural Headache Remedies for Fast Relief
Life can get pretty busy and stressful, and the “common” headache is sometimes overlooked or masked with a painkiller (which, especially when overused, can sometimes cause more serious health issues). A headache is a good indicator that your body is missing something – maybe you need to take a breather, drink some water or change the way you eat. You may have a vitamin or nutrient deficiency or a food sensitivity that is causing this built-up tension.
Headaches can be triggered by stress, fatigue, allergies, eyestrain, poor posture, alcohol or drugs, low blood sugar, hormones, constipation, and nutritional deficiencies. Your body is telling you that something needs to change, so begin to heed those signals and use these 10 headache remedies to overcome headaches in a natural and healthy way.
Top 10 Headache Remedies
Magnesium is one of the most successful headache remedies, first of all, because it’s much safer than taking a painkiller. People who suffer from serious headaches, like migraines, often have low levels of magnesium, and several studies suggest that magnesium may reduce the frequency of migraine attacks in people with low levels.
Those prone to low counts of magnesium include people with diabetes, heart disease, alcoholism, as well as those on diuretics for blood pressure.
Magnesium may prevent the wave of brain signaling, called cortical spreading depression, which produces the visual and sensory changes that are common when experiencing a headache, especially a migraine. Magnesium can block the pain-transmitting chemicals in the brain, and it can improve platelet function, which will help your body react to injuries and prevent bleeding.
Taking 200-600 mg of magnesium a day can reduce the frequency of headache attacks. Both oral and intravenous magnesium are widely available, extremely safe and inexpensive. Magnesium can be used safely by women who are pregnant. The most frequent side effect of magnesium is diarrhea, but lowering your dose or taking it less often can eliminate that issue.
To increase your daily magnesium intake, eat more fiber. Dietary sources of magnesium include beans, whole grains, seeds, nuts, and vegetables like broccoli, squash and leafy greens. Dairy products, meats, chocolate and coffee also include decent levels of magnesium.
2. Gluten-Free DietMix Of Breads
When people with gluten sensitivity eat foods containing gluten, it can lead to a headache. According to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, patients who have undiagnosed celiac disease and migraine headaches often see either complete resolution of migraine headaches, or a significant reduction in the frequency and strength of symptoms after giving up gluten.
You may not have celiac disease, but a gluten sensitivity that gives you a headache. If this is the case, you don’t have to cut out gluten completely – instead, try to cut back on your daily intake.
Start this headache remedy by eliminating gluten for three weeks, then introduce foods containing gluten slowly. Pay attention to the way you feel when adding more gluten to your diet and find your happy balance. Listen to your body – you will find out how much of a food group you can eat without triggering symptoms.
3. Peppermint & Lavender Essential Oil
The calming and numbing effects of both peppermint and lavender oils make them perfect tools for relieving headache symptoms.
Peppermint oil generates a long-lasting cooling effect on the skin. Research shows that peppermint oil stimulates a significant increase in skin blood flow of the forehead, and it soothes muscle contractions. One study showed that peppermint oil, in combination with ethanol, reduced headache sensitivity.
Lavender oil is commonly used as a mood stabilizer and sedative. Research has shown that the use of lavender oil is a safe and effective treatment of migraine headaches. One study conducted in 2012 measured the results of inhaling lavender oil for 15 minutes. The 47 participants were asked to record the effects every half hour, for two hours. Out of 129 headache attacks, 92 responded to the lavender oil remedy.
Both of these essential oils are really effective headache remedies, so take advantage of their benefits by placing a few drops of peppermint or lavender oil into your hands and then rubbing the blend on your forehead, temples and back of neck. If the smell is too strong for you, or if the peppermint is too chilling, dilute it down by mixing the essential oils with almond, grapeseed or coconut oil. By adding coconut oil, you can take advantage of its own amazing health benefits – like balancing hormones, moisturizing skin and decreasing wrinkles.
4. Chiropractic Care & PostureLumbar Spine Anatomy
One of the best things about chiropractic care is that it’s a drug-free and surgery-free path to healing naturally. The chiropractor can reduce oxidative stress in the body, just like an antioxidant.
Oxidative stress is the damage that occurs when free radicals outnumber the body’s antioxidants. Oxidative stress damages all body cell components: proteins, lipids and DNA.
Several clinical trials indicate that spinal manipulation therapy may help treat headaches. In one such study, 22 percent of those who received chiropractic manipulation reported more than a 90 percent reduction of headaches; meanwhile, 49 percent reported that the headache intensity was significantly reduced after receiving chiropractic treatment.
Chiropractic adjustments or spinal manipulation helps to alleviate the stress of your system. Studies suggest that chiropractic manipulation reduces tension and migraine headaches. The Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College conducted a study involving 729 subjects, of whom 613 received chiropractic care and their outcomes ranged from good to excellent, indicating that it’s a positive and beneficial headache remedy.
5. Herbs: Feverfew & Butterbur
Headaches can be relieved naturally through the use of tension-easing herbs.
The leaves of feverfew are used to make medicine. Research shows that consuming feverfew reduces the frequency of migraine headaches and headache symptoms, including pain, nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light and noise.
A systematic review, completed by The School of Postgraduate Medicine and Health Science, U.K, compared the results of six studies. The results indicate that feverfew is effective in the prevention of migraine headaches and doesn’t pose any major safely concerns.
If you’re interested in trying this natural remedy, it’s easy to find and purchase feverfew
products, which are typically made of dry feverfew leaves. Feverfew supplements are available fresh, freeze-dried or dried. Feverfew can be purchased as capsules, tablets or liquid extracts; the recommended dose for headache relief is 50-100 milligrams of feverfew extract.
Butterbur is an herb that reduces the inflammatory effect of chemicals that trigger butterburheadaches, especially migraines. It also acts as a beta blocker, resulting in normal blood flow to the brain. Doses of at least 75 milligrams twice daily seem to be necessary for the best headache-reducing results.
One study, done over a four-month period, showed that migraine attack frequency was reduced by 48 percent in participants who consumed 75 milligrams of butterbur twice a day. This research, done at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, measured a decrease in migraine attack frequency – suggesting that butterbur is an effective headache remedy and symptom reliever.
6. B-Complex Vitamins
Many B vitamins are involved in the formation of neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, which may be deficient in people who suffer from migraines. Sadly, millions of Americans are coming up short on one or more of the B vitamins and this is causing energy slumps, unhealthy blood cell and adrenal effects, foggy thinking, and headache symptoms.
A B-complex vitamin includes a group of eight water-soluble vitamins: thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin B12, biotin and pantothenic acid. Together, these vitamins improve brain cells, circulation, immune function and cardiovascular health.
B vitamins are water-soluble, so an overdose is rare. If there is extra in your system, it will be flushed out through urine. Studies indicate that while vitamin B2 may reduce the frequency and duration of migraines, vitamin B3 calms vascular headaches by opening up blood vessels to increase blood flow. Try taking one B-complex vitamin a day, as the benefits go beyond headache relief.
A fascinating study on mood and psychological strain associated with chronic work stress measured the effectiveness of a three-month administration of two forms of high-dose vitamin B complex. Sixty participants were involved in the trial that assessed their personality, work demands, mood, anxiety and strain.
The vitamin B complex treatment groups fared considerably better than the control group, reporting substantial lower levels of “personal strain” as well as an overall “reduction in confusion and depressed/dejected mood” after 12 weeks. The outcome suggested that vitamin B complex vitamins were a cost-effective treatment for the mood and psychological strain effects of occupational stress.
7. Stay Hydratedrefreshing pure water
The dehydrating effects of coffee, sugary drinks and alcohol can certainly leave us with a killer headache. Most Americans simply aren’t getting enough water, which in itself can relive headache pain and symptoms. This simple (and free) remedy will keep you feeling full, energized and headache-free.
You can also quench your thirst and stay hydrated with fruits and veggies – some even have a water content that’s over 90 percent. Try adding these nutritious fruits and veggies to your diet in order to stay hydrated throughout the day:
- green peppers
A study done at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery concludes that there is indeed a water-deprivation headache. The study notes that while water deprivation is common and recognized by the public, it’s not described in medical literature. The research indicates that headaches from a lack of water include impaired concentration and irritability, too!
So if you feel a headache coming on, consider your water intake and drink up.
8. Detox Bath to Reduce Tension
A detox isn’t just for cleaning your body, but also for ridding your body of toxins that will make you sick and can be one of the best preventative headache remedies . To bring toxins to the surface of your skin, make the water as hot as you can tolerate; then, as you sit in the cooling water, the toxins will be released.
You can dress up your detox bath to boost its tension-reducing capabilities:
- Add a cup of baking soda to hot bath water. Baking soda kills bacteria, leaves your skin clean and smooth, and minimizes skin irritability – making it a handy and inexpensive product.
- Add essential oil to your bath water – there are so many surprising essential oil uses and benefits. The soothing, calming, invigorating and cooling qualities of these oils will release any pent-up tension that your body is holding on to. Try lavender, peppermint, lemongrass, frankincense or sandalwood oil.
- Add two cups of apple cider vinegar to hot bath water. The ACV draws excess uric acid out of the body, and it provides joint pain, arthritis, gout and headache relief. ACV can also soothe sunburn, heal poison ivy, kill fungus and tone your skin – so there are some extra health benefits to this easy headache remedy.
9. Stretching and Moving
Staying in one position for an extended period of time, like sitting at your desk or computer, can lead to body tension and create headache symptoms.
Plus, let’s face it, many of us spend hours a day hunched over, such as peering at your smartphone. This position, with your head sticking out, puts an extra 20-30 pounds of pressure on your neck!
No wonder such a position leads to major tension headaches. An easy way to avoid this chain reaction is to take a break every 30-60 minutes – stretch and move your head and neck around in a circular motion. This will relieve the built up stress and can help in avoiding headaches.
Doing yoga is a great way to relieve built-up tension. Yoga clears your mind and loosens your muscles – it improves respiration, vitality and muscle strength, and it’s great for the circulatory system. If you feel a headache coming on, try a few yoga poses like the downward facing dog or child’s pose.
A 2012 study done by the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation in Finland measured the results of a stretching program for 60 women. The 12-month program resulted in a 69 percent decrease in headache frequency and symptom intensity. In addition to stretching, the results were even better when participants added muscle endurance and strength training exercises to their routines.
10. Cayenne Muscle Rub
Cayenne pepper can stimulate your body’s circulation and reduce acidity – and it makes for one of the most surprising headache remedies. The capsaicin in cayenne is good for treating pain and inflammation — cayenne depletes the bodily element that makes us feel pain, called substance P, by stimulating a pain response in another area of the body.
When there is less substance P, the pain messages no longer reach the brain, and you feel relief. When applied topically, cayenne has the ability to relieve headache symptoms and relax your muscles.
In the U.S. today, cayenne pepper is mostly used as a spice, but in many societies and parts of the world, it goes far beyond just flavoring food. For Native Americans as well as ancient Chinese, cayenne pepper is consistently used for therapeutic reasons.
There’s A Secret Trick To Stopping Painful Leg Cramps In The Middle Of The Night
If you’ve ever tossed and turned throughout the night, you know how hard it can be to enjoy a peaceful slumber. If you’re battling painful leg cramps, getting enough sleep can be downright impossible. Leg cramps can strike without warning, and they can happen to anyone.
Here are a few tips for treating that familiar muscle tightness in your calves…and preventing nocturnal leg cramps in the first place!
What are nocturnal leg cramps?
As their name suggests, nocturnal leg cramps are muscle cramps that occur during the night. They usually happen in the calves, but sometimes these pains strike the thighs, too. They occur in spasms that last a few seconds to a few minutes, and the sensation can range from mild discomfort to extreme pain, depending on the level of muscle contraction.
What causes nocturnal leg cramps?
Leg cramps can be caused by a variety of factors, including sitting for too long during the day, standing or working on concrete floors, over-exertion of muscles for prolonged periods of time, heavy exercise, or sitting with poor posture.
However, there are other reasons you might be getting leg cramps.
If you’re pregnant or suffer from diabetes, alcoholism, or Parkinson’s disease, you might experience nocturnal leg cramps more often. The cramps could also be a sign that you’re dehydrated.
If you feel leg cramps coming on, there are things you can do to help get rid of them quickly.
- Start by gently massaging the area where the muscle is cramping. Sit on the floor and extend both legs in front of you. Flex your feet, resisting the urge to let your toes point while the muscle contracts.
- Get up and walk around a little. This should help loosen up the muscles and fight the contractions.
- Check that blankets and sheets are not so tight around your legs that they are forcing your muscles to contract.
- Try swallowing a tablespoon of yellow mustard if all else fails. The high sodium content in the condiment is thought to combat a lack of potassium that could be contributing to your cramps.
Pinpointing the reason why you’re getting nocturnal leg cramps is the best way to prevent them in the future. Take a look at your daily activities and see if anything you’re doing can be changed to avoid these painful sleep-stealers.
11 Chronic Pain Control Techniques
To prepare for any chronic pain coping technique, it is important to learn how to use focus and deep breathing to relax the body. Learning to relax takes practice, especially when you are in pain, but it is definitely worth it to be able to release muscle tension throughout the body and start to remove attention from the pain.
Coping techniques for chronic pain begin with controlled deep breathing, as follows:
- Try putting yourself in a relaxed, reclining position in a dark room. Either shut your eyes or focus on a point.
- Then begin to slow down your breathing. Breathe deeply, using your chest. If you find your mind wandering or you are distracted, then think of a word, such as the word "Relax," and think it in time with your breathing...the syllable "re" as you breathe in and "lax" as you breathe out.
- Continue with about 2 to 3 minutes of controlled breathing.
- Once you feel yourself slowing down, you can begin to use imagery techniques.
Eleven specific imagery and chronic pain control techniques that are effective for pain control include:
This is a favorite technique for demonstrating how powerfully the mind can alter sensations in the body. Focus your attention on any specific non-painful part of the body (hand, foot, etc.) and alter sensation in that part of the body. For example, imagine your hand warming up. This will take the mind away from focusing on the source of your pain, such as your back pain.
As the name implies, this chronic pain technique involves mentally separating the painful body part from the rest of the body, or imagining the body and mind as separate, with the chronic pain distant from one’s mind. For example, imagine your painful lower back sitting on a chair across the room and tell it to stay sitting there, far away from your mind.
This technique involves dividing the sensation (pain, burning, pins and needles) into separate parts. For example, if the leg pain or back pain feels hot to you, focus just on the sensation of the heat and not on the hurting.
This involves imagining an injection of numbing anesthetic (like Novocain) into the painful area, such as imagining a numbing solution being injected into your low back. Similarly, you may then wish to imagine a soothing and cooling ice pack being placed onto the area of pain.
Building on the mental anesthesia concept, this technique involves imagining an injection of a strong pain killer, such as morphine, into the painful area. Alternatively, you can imagine your brain producing massive amount of endorphins, the natural pain relieving substance of the body, and having them flow to the painful parts of your body.
Use your mind to produce altered sensations, such as heat, cold, anesthetic, in a non-painful hand, and then place the hand on the painful area. Envision transferring this pleasant, altered sensation into the painful area.
Use your mind’s eye to project yourself forward or backward in time to when you are pain-free or experiencing much less pain. Then instruct yourself to act "as if" this image were true.
Envision a symbol that represents your chronic pain, such as a loud, irritating noise or a painfully bright light bulb. Gradually reduce the irritating qualities of this symbol, for example dim the light or reduce the volume of the noise, thereby reducing the pain.
Focus your attention on a pleasant place that you could imagine going - the beach, mountains, etc. - where you feel carefree, safe and relaxed.
Silent counting is a good way to deal with painful episodes. You might count breaths, count holes in an acoustic ceiling, count floor tiles, or simply conjure up mental images and count them.
Move chronic back pain from one area of your body to another, where the pain is easier to cope with. For example, mentally move your chronic back pain slowly into your hand, or even out of your hand into the air.
Some of these techniques are probably best learned with the help of a professional, and it usually takes practice for these techniques to become effective in helping alleviate chronic pain. It is often advisable to work on pain coping strategies for about 30 minutes 3 times a week. With practice, you will find that the relaxation and chronic pain control become stronger and last longer after you are done.
Sometimes, after you are good at using the techniques, you can produce chronic pain relief and relaxation with just a few deep breaths. You can then start to use these techniques while you are engaged in any activity, working, talking, etc. With enough experience you will begin to feel a greater sense of control over the chronic pain and its effects on your life.
Pulled Back Muscle and Lower Back Strain
The majority of episodes of acute lower back pain are caused by damage to the muscles and/or ligaments in the low back. While a muscle strain doesn’t sound like a serious injury, the resulting lower back pain can be surprisingly severe and is the cause of many emergency room visits each year.
There are two common types of lower back strain:
- A muscle strain happens when the muscle is over-stretched or torn, resulting in damage to the muscle fibers (also called a pulled muscle).
- A lumbar sprain happens when ligaments are stretched too far or torn. Ligaments are very tough, fibrous connecting tissues that connect bones together.
For practical purposes, it doesn’t matter if it is a muscle strain or a ligament sprain that is causing the pain, since the treatment and prognosis for both are the same.
When the muscles or ligaments in the low back are strained or torn, the area around the muscles will usually become inflamed. The inflammation leads to back spasm, and it is the back spasm that can cause both severe lower back pain and difficulty moving.
Common Causes of a Pulled Back Muscle
Lower back pain from muscle strain usually is caused by any type of movement that puts undue stress on the lower back. Frequent causes include lifting a heavy object, lifting while twisting, or a sudden movement or fall.
Sports injuries are also a frequent cause of a pulled back muscle, especially with sports that involve twisting (such as golf), or any types of sudden impact or jarring motions.
Pulled Back Muscle Symptoms
Symptoms may range from a mild ache to sudden debilitating pain. Typical symptoms of a lower back pulled muscle include some combination of the following:
- The pain is usually localized in the lower back, meaning that it doesn’t radiate into the leg (as in sciatica)
- The lower back may be sore upon touch
- Pain usually comes on suddenly
- There may be accompanying muscle spasms
- The patient usually feels better when resting, and may find standing or walking difficult.
The severe back pain may resolve quickly, but a lower level of pain, or intermittent flare-ups of pain, may continue for a few weeks or months.
Sleeping with Neck Pain: What You Need to Know
Is your neck pain keeping you awake at night? These three tips can help alleviate your discomfort so you can get some much-needed rest.
1. Match your pillow height with your sleeping position
When you lie down to sleep, you want a pillow that supports the natural curve of your neck. If your pillow is too high, you can strain your neck muscles and obstruct your breathing. On the other hand, you’re also at risk for strained neck muscles if your pillow is too low.
To help ease the stress on your neck, follow these guidelines for choosing the correct pillow based on your preferred sleeping position:
Back SleepersIn general, if you sleep on your back it’s best to use a thin pillow. There is no single pillow height that works for all back sleepers, but you can test if a pillow is right for you by lying down on the pillow and having a friend take a picture of the curve of your neck. Ideally, the curve of your neck will look similar to when you're standing with good posture—or when you're standing tall with your head up and shoulders back.
Side SleepersIf you sleep on your side, you typically need a thicker pillow than back sleepers to ensure your neck and head are positioned in the middle of your shoulders. Your height and the width of your shoulders will help determine the kind of pillow you ought to buy—so if you’re petite you will need a slimmer pillow than if you’re broad-shouldered.
Stomach SleepersAvoid sleeping on your stomach because this position places the most stress on your neck muscles. If you can’t sleep any other way, try using an ultra-slim pillow or foregoing a pillow altogether.
If you’re a back or side sleeper, you may also benefit from placing a small roll-shaped pillow under your neck for additional support—or you can simply use a rolled-up towel.
2. Ditch your phone
While lying in bed each night, you probably spend at least a few minutes browsing on your phone. You may not think anything of it, but here’s how this bad habit can provoke neck pain that may hinder your sleep:
- Your neck muscles are designed to support your head in a neutral position—meaning that your head should be balanced over your spine. This neutral position typically results in 10-12 pounds of force on your neck muscles.
- When you look down at your phone, your head may tilt at an angle of up to 60 degrees. This sharp angle produces 60 pounds of force, which in turn strains your neck muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
Not only can phone use lead to neck pain, or what is commonly referred to as text neck, but the blue light your phone emits inhibits sleep by blocking your body’s release of melatonin. If you have to look at your phone in bed, it’s best to hold it at eye level and limit screen time to only a few minutes.
It’s important to remember that reading a book or completing a crossword puzzle in bed can also place added stress on your neck muscles.
3. Stretch your neck before bed
If you spend a large portion of your day sitting in a chair, slouching or any number of other poor posture habits can tighten your neck muscles and provoke neck pain. This pain can persist well into the evening and make it difficult to fall asleep at night.
Stretching your neck loosens your tight muscles and may help relieve your pain. Here is one easy neck stretch you can try before bed to loosen your levator scapula muscle (the muscle that connects your neck to your shoulder blade):
- Position yourself perpendicular to a wall—allowing for roughly 12 inches of space between your shoulder and the wall.
- Raise your arm as high as you can over your head. After several seconds, angle your arm towards the wall so that your elbow and the palm of your hand are flush against it.
- Turn your head away from the wall and bring your chin down towards the floor until you feel a slight stretch in the back of your neck. Next, place your free hand on the top of your head and pull your head forward to slightly increase the stretch.
- Hold this final position for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Make sure to consult with your doctor if you’re neck pain interrupts your sleep for more than a week. She or he may be able to recommend a comprehensive treatment plan to help you regain control over your sleep schedule.
Tips to Keep Your Joints Healthy
Stay in Motion
It's the golden rule of joint health: The more you move, the less stiffness you'll have. Whether you're reading, working, or watching TV, change positions often. Take breaks from your desk or your chair and get active.
Padding is your pal. So suit up when you do things like in-line skating or play contact sports. If your joints already ache, it might help to wear braces when you do activities like tennis or golf.
Lean In to Your Weight
Your size affects some of the strain on your hips, knees, and back. Even a little weight loss can help. Every pound you lose takes 4 pounds of pressure off the knees. Ask your doctor what's the best way for you to get started.
Don't Stretch Before Exercise
Flexibility helps you move better. Try to stretch daily or at least three times a week. But don't do it when your muscles are cold. Do a light warm-up first, like walking for 10 minutes, to loosen up the joints, ligaments, and tendons around them.
What exercise is good? The best choices are activities that don't pound your joints, like walking, bicycling, swimming, and strength training.
Flex Some Muscle
Get stronger to give your joints better support. Even a little more strength makes a difference. A physical therapist or certified trainer can show you what moves to do and how to do them. If you have joint problems, avoid quick, repetitive movements.
Work on Your Range
Are your joints too stiff and inflexible? You'll want to get back as much as you can of your "range of motion." That's the normal amount joints can move in certain directions. Your doctor or physical therapist can recommend exercises to improve this.
Power Up Your Core
Stronger abs and back muscles help your balance, so you're less likely to fall or get injured. Add core (abdominal, back, and hip) strengthening exercises to your routine. Pilates and yoga are great workouts to try.
Know Your Limits
It's normal to have some aching muscles after you exercise. But if you hurt for more than 48 hours, you may have over stressed your joints. Don't push so hard next time. Working through the pain may lead to an injury or damage.
Eat Fish to Reduce Inflammation
If you have joint pain from rheumatoid arthritis, eat more fish. Fatty cold-water types like salmon and mackerel are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s may help keep joints healthy, as well as lower inflammation, a cause of joint pain and tenderness in people with RA. Don't like fish? Try fish oil capsules instead.
Keep Your Bones Strong
Calcium and vitamin D can help you do that. Dairy products are the best sources of calcium, but other options are green, leafy vegetables like broccoli and kale. If you don't get enough calcium from food, ask your doctor about supplements.
Target Your Posture
Stand and sit up straight to protect joints all the way from the neck down to your knees. To improve your posture, take a walk. The faster you do it, the harder your muscles work to keep you upright. Swimming can also help.
Ease Your Load
Consider your joints when lifting and carrying. Carry bags on your arms instead of with your hands to let your bigger muscles and joints support the weight.
Chill Out Pain
Ice is a natural -- and free -- pain reliever. It numbs the hurt and eases swelling. If you have a sore joint, apply a cold pack or ice wrapped in a towel. Leave it on for up to 20 minutes at a time. You can also try a bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a towel. Never apply ice directly to your skin.
Supplements? Ask First
Stores are filled with ones that promise to relieve joint pain. Glucosamine and SAMe have the best research behind them. Talk to your doctor if you want to give supplements a try, so you know about what's safe and what might affect your medicines or health conditions.
Treat Joint Injuries
They can add to the breakdown of cartilage in your joints. If you get hurt, see your doctor right away for treatment. Then take steps to avoid more damage. You may need to avoid activities that put too much stress on your joint or use a brace to stabilize it.
10 Relaxation Techniques That Zap Stress Fast
Relax. You deserve it, it's good for you, and it takes less time than you think.
You don't need a spa weekend or a retreat. Each of these stress-relieving tips can get you from OMG to om in less than 15 minutes.
A few minutes of practice per day can help ease anxiety. “Research suggests that daily meditation may alter the brain’s neural pathways, making you more resilient to stress,” says psychologist Robbie Maller Hartman, PhD, a Chicago health and wellness coach.
It's simple. Sit up straight with both feet on the floor. Close your eyes. Focus your attention on reciting -- out loud or silently -- a positive mantra such as “I feel at peace” or “I love myself.” Place one hand on your belly to sync the mantra with your breaths. Let any distracting thoughts float by like clouds.
2. Breathe Deeply
Take a 5-minute break and focus on your breathing. Sit up straight, eyes closed, with a hand on your belly. Slowly inhale through your nose, feeling the breath start in your abdomen and work its way to the top of your head. Reverse the process as you exhale through your mouth.
“Deep breathing counters the effects of stress by slowing the heart rate and lowering blood pressure,” psychologist Judith Tutin, PhD, says. She's a certified life coach in Rome, GA.
3. Be Present
“Take 5 minutes and focus on only one behavior with awareness,” Tutin says. Notice how the air feels on your face when you’re walking and how your feet feel hitting the ground. Enjoy the texture and taste of each bite of food.
When you spend time in the moment and focus on your senses, you should feel less tense.
4. Reach Out
Your social network is one of your best tools for handling stress. Talk to others -- preferably face to face, or at least on the phone. Share what's going on. You can get a fresh perspective while keeping your connection strong.
5. Tune In to Your Body
Mentally scan your body to get a sense of how stress affects it each day. Lie on your back, or sit with your feet on the floor. Start at your toes and work your way up to your scalp, noticing how your body feels. “Simply be aware of places you feel tight or loose without trying to change anything,” Tutin says. For 1 to 2 minutes, imagine each deep breath flowing to that body part. Repeat this process as you move your focus up your body, paying close attention to sensations you feel in each body part.
Place a warm heat wrap around your neck and shoulders for 10 minutes. Close your eyes and relax your face, neck, upper chest, and back muscles. Remove the wrap, and use a tennis ball or foam roller to massage away tension.
“Place the ball between your back and the wall. Lean into the ball, and hold gentle pressure for up to 15 seconds. Then move the ball to another spot, and apply pressure,” says Cathy Benninger, a nurse practitioner and assistant professor at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus.
7. Laugh Out Loud
A good belly laugh doesn’t just lighten the load mentally. It lowers cortisol, your body’s stress hormone, and boosts brain chemicals called endorphins, which help your mood. Lighten up by tuning in to your favorite sitcom or video, reading the comics, or chatting with someone who makes you smile.
8. Crank Up the Tunes
Research shows that listening to soothing music can lower blood pressure, heart rate, and anxiety. “Create a playlist of songs or nature sounds (the ocean, a bubbling brook, birds chirping), and allow your mind to focus on the different melodies, instruments, or singers in the piece,” Benninger says. You also can blow off steam by rocking out to more upbeat tunes -- or singing at the top of your lungs!
9. Get Moving
You don’t have to run in order to get a runner’s high. All forms of exercise, including yoga and walking, can ease depression and anxiety by helping the brain release feel-good chemicals and by giving your body a chance to practice dealing with stress. You can go for a quick walk around the block, take the stairs up and down a few flights, or do some stretching exercises like head rolls and shoulder shrugs.
10. Be Grateful
Keep a gratitude journal or several (one by your bed, one in your purse, and one at work) to help you remember all the things that are good in your life.
“Being grateful for your blessings cancels out negative thoughts and worries,” says Joni Emmerling, a wellness coach in Greenville, NC.
Use these journals to savor good experiences like a child’s smile, a sunshine-filled day, and good health. Don’t forget to celebrate accomplishments like mastering a new task at work or a new hobby. When you start feeling stressed, spend a few minutes looking through your notes to remind yourself what really matters.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
What is carpal tunnel syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome is common amongst various sporting individuals and the 9 to 5 desktop or laptop worker. Commonly caused by the compression of median nerve which passes through a short tunnel at the wrist. Carpal tunnel syndrome is more common in women than men. In the UK, about 3 in 100 men and 5 in 100 women experience carpal tunnel syndrome in their lifetime. Although carpal tunnel syndrome becomes more common with age it can affect people of all ages.
People who engaged in repetitive motions throughout their day such as:
Check-out line technicians
People who use computer for many hours throughout the day
Numbness or pins and needles feeling in the fingers
Swollen feeling in the fingers
Pain and/or numbness that is worse at night
Burning or tingling in your thumb, index and middle fingers
Difficulty gripping objects with the hands
Difficulty making a fist
Fluid retention from pregnancy
High blood pressure
Fracture or trauma to the wrist
Autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis
Poor positioning of your wrists while using mouse or keyboard
Prolonged exposure to vibrations
Any repeated movement that overextends your wrist
Injuries to the hand
Avoiding position that overextend your wrist
Wrist splints to hold your hand in a neutral position
Medications to reduce inflammation
Steroid injections into carpal tunnel area
Surgery (if severe damage to the median nerve)
Deep tissue massage
Attention to hand posture
Avoiding activities that overextend your wrist
Treating yourself to a hand massage now and then
15 Natural Back Pain Remedies
Achy back? You're not alone: back problems send more Americans to the doctor annually than nearly any other medical problem, according to a 2013 Mayo Clinic study. Whether you're recovering from misjudging a heavy load (we've all been there), dealing with a lingering injury, or have a chronic problem, you don't necessarily need to resort to popping tons of pain relievers. Talk to your doc about these 15 expert-approved natural back pain remedies, and find out if they are safe and appropriate for you.
Just say om. In a British study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, low-back pain sufferers who took one yoga class a week for three months saw greater improvements in function compared to those receiving conventional care like medicine or physical therapy.
The same study found that stretching is just as effective as yoga in treating back pain. The 52-minute stretching classes consisted of 15 exercises that stretched all major muscle groups, but emphasized the trunk and legs.
Two words: Treat yourself. Chronic low back pain sufferers who got weekly massages reported less pain after 10 weeks than those who didn't, according to another Annals of Internal Medicine study.
If the idea of having needles inserted into your skin gives you the heebie-jeebies, try to have an open mind—it may be the key to relieving your chronic back pain. In a study, people who received acupuncture treatments were more likely to find back pain relief than those receiving conventional care.
Talking about your back pain with a therapist may bring some relief. In a U.K. study, back pain sufferers who had 90 minutes of group cognitive behavioral therapy a week for six weeks reported less pain during the treatment. (Cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on solving problems by changing thoughts and behavior.) A year later, 59% said their pain was totally cured, compared to just 31% in the group that did not go through therapy.
Celebrity fitness trainer Kathy Kaehler has a test for you: "Stand with your back to a wall, shoulder blades pressed against it. Can you hold the position for the length of the song 'Happy Birthday'? If not, you'll need to strengthen your back and core." Building strength in those areas can help prevent and relieve back pain.
Good things come to those who wait—except perhaps when it comes to back pain treatment. Starting physical therapy within two weeks of back pain onset was associated with less risk of need for subsequent medical care as well as lower overall health costs, according to a study published in the journal Spine.
Osteopathic manual therapy
In osteopathic manual therapy (OMT), an osteopath or chiropractor moves your back muscles using hands-on techniques such as stretching, light pressure, and resistance. One study found that people who underwent OMT for 12 weeks saw a 30% reduction in their pain level.
Learning to keep your cool is as good for your back as it is for your mental health. When you're anxious, your body sets off the "fight or flight" response, which involves tensing your muscles so you're ready to spring into action. One European study revealed that people prone to negative thoughts and anxiety are more likely to suffer from back pain. Get calm now with these stress-busting solutions.
Meditation has been proven to reduce chronic pain in several scientific studies. Research from Duke University found that people suffering from chronic back pain saw significant reductions in pain and psychological distress after practicing a form of meditation that focuses on releasing anger. In another study, meditators experienced a 40% reduction in pain intensity.
People who used an ointment that contains this plant-based extract for five days reduced the intensity of lower back pain by 95%, according to a 2009 study conducted by Merck (which manufactures the ointment). In comparison, a placebo group had a 38% reduction in pain during that same time, according to the study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. Look for comfrey root ointment in health food stores or online. Just don't use it for more than 10 days at a time—it can be toxic.
Aquatic therapy is essentially physical therapy in a pool. Instead of using weights for resistance, patients use the resistance of the water. Studies show it may help alleviate lower back pain. In one 2013 study, sedentary adults who underwent aquatic therapy five times a week for two months saw reductions in pain and increases in quality of life. One smaller study found that aquatic therapy also helped pregnant women who were experiencing aching lower backs.
This slow-moving form of Chinese martial arts may be an effective back pain treatment. In a 2011 American College of Rheumatology study, people who completed two 40-minute Tai Chi sessions a week for 10 weeks reduced pain intensity 1.3 points on a zero to 10 scale.
The Alexander technique
A form of physical therapy, practitioners of the Alexander technique teach patients how to adjust their posture during everyday activities to reduce muscular tension and stress. In a BMJ study, people who took lessons in the Alexander technique saw long-term improvement in pain and quality of life.
It may be tempting to quit exercising when you're suffering from back pain, but it's essential to keep yourself moving. Pilates is one great option.
In a 2014 European Journal of Physical Rehabilitation Medicine study, researchers found an improvement in pain, disability, and psychological health in chronic low-back pain patients who took five hour-long Pilates classes a week for six months. Meanwhile, people who remained inactive experienced further worsening of their pain. Similarly, a Medicine and Science in Sport and Exercise study revealed that taking either Pilates or a general exercise class twice a week for six weeks both improved pain and quality of life.
4 Tips For Choosing The Correct Footwear For Back Support
Did you know that the shoes you choose can contribute to pain in the back, knees, hips and feet? Your footwear can change the way you walk and your posture while you move. Here are a few tips we gathered to keep your spine aligned.
Tip #1: Get Rid Of The High Heels
Walking with shoes that have a high heel can disrupt your alignment. This disruption will force your body to try to make up for this imbalance by adjusting your hips and knees, and this puts extra stress on your lower back. The safest heel is one that falls under 1.5 inches and preferably women should wear flat shoes to work, especially if your job requires frequent standing or walking.
Tip #2: Check The Fit
Did you know that picking shoes that don’t properly fit is a common problem? Make sure you are choosing a shoe with the correct fit, even if that means speaking with an associate to help. Picking shoes that are too small will jam your toes into the shoe which will cause pain. If you choose shoes that are too big then you risk overcompensating when you take a step in an attempt to keep the shoe from falling off. In shoes that are too narrow, the shoe is literally pushing into your foot while you walk. So make sure you are choosing something that really fits your feet and doesn’t just look good.
Tip #3: Find A Custom Insert
Custom inserts provide extra padding and support while you walk or if you are standing for long periods of time. These help cushion as you walk and take some of the stress off of your knees. If your occupation requires a lot of standing or walking, make sure you find an orthotic insert that works for your shoes.
Tip #4: Give Custom Shose A Try
They might not be the most fashionable choices, but orthotic shoes provide a specialized fit to your foot and provide more arch support than shoes you would find at a normal shoe store. These shoes help to keep your alignment straight which means your muscles will be operating more efficiently.
Back Pain Relief – 5 Definitive Tips to Managing the Pain
Back pain can be hard to ignore, and though some people do manage to live with chronic back pain, can we really call it ‘living’? For fast back pain relief, some people reach for NSAIDs, which distribute medication through the bloodstream to temporarily blunt muscle and spinal pain at its source. But pain pills – even over-the-counter ones – were never intended to be taken constantly over long periods of time. They take their toll on the liver, kidneys and other organs, as the body struggles to metabolize all that pain medication; and eventually, the medication no longer seems as effective as it once was, so greater amounts need to be taken to achieve the same results.
In order to find a different solution, we first need to know what the problem is. So first let’s take a look at the origins and nature of pain itself.
What is your back pain trying to tell you?
Pain in your body is used by the nervous system as a warning sign to alert you that something is not right. For example, if you accidentally touch a hot stove, nerve cells will send a message through your spinal cord to your brain to signal you to move your hand off the heat source. In other cases, an internal issue such as inflammation, can cause pain, which could be signalling an injury or an allergy, for example.
The first step towards solving your back pain is identifying it – which you might need to seek professional help to do. Once you have discovered the nature and cause(s) of your back pain, with the assistance of your doctor, chiropractor, physiotherapist, osteopath, or another medical practitioner, you will then be left with what to do about it.
5 tips for managing back pain
- Sleep well. Poor sleep is a leading cause of body pain because if we spend hours in an unsupportive position, tossing and turning through the night, we don’t get the sleep that is vital to healing. If you don’t sleep well, you can do some online research to find ways to sleep better – or if your sleep problem is more severe, an overnight trip to a sleep clinic can rule out (or reveal) serious but common sleep disorders like sleep apnea. Medium and firm mattresses are usually said to be better and more supportive for people with back pain.
- Use temperature therapy. A simple ice pack may seem counterintuitive in an age of advanced medicine, but sometimes it’s one of the most effective options to treat a sore back. Ice is best applied right after an injury occurs, but don’t overdo it; apply a cold pack wrapped in a towel for no more than 15 minutes out of each hour to prevent skin injuries. Similarly, heat can be very comfortable and relaxing when back pain hits; try a heating pad, hot wrap, or warm gel pack, which can be alternated with cold therapy for maximum relief.
- Increasing evidence about the mind/body connection (which has been known to traditional practitioners in cultures around the world since ancient times) shows that relaxing your mind can also help the body heal. Several mental techniques, including body scans and mindfulness meditation, have been shown to assist the body in relaxation and promote wellness.
- Massage. Massage therapy not only feels good in the moment, it can generate long-lasting effects, such as improved circulation so more blood is flowing to (and healing) your affected areas. The touch of a skilled massage therapist can actually promote well-being in the form of decreased anxiety and increased muscle relaxation, helping you to heal from the inside out.
- Topical anti-inflammatories. Whether you reach for a traditional concoction like Tiger Balm or a more modern pain reliever like Voltaren Emulgel, massaging a medicine into your skin puts the pain relief right where you want it, while the act of massage itself can increase the efficacy of topical medicines.
When back pain strikes…strike back with these effective, non-invasive tips to manage the pain!
Proper Sleeping Position and Posture to Prevent Back & Neck Pain
Proper Side Sleeping Position
Healthy lifestyle involves proper and enough sleeping. Poor sleeping can affect your health in various ways. Most cases of neck and back pain are as a result of incorrect sleeping posture. Side sleeping is one of the recommended as the best sleep position. What to understand is that the whole concept is not just about side sleeping but how do you attain a proper side sleeping position?
There are some considerations that will help you make a proper side sleeping. They include the following. First of all ensure you are lying on your side, this could be either right or left. The head must be rested on a pillow of standard thickness with comfortable pillow materials. Very thick or thin pillows should be avoided since they turn the neck at an angle.
To ensure that this proper sleeping position balances your spine, place a pillow between the slightly bent knees. The knees should not be brought close to the chest. This will create a fetal position that is not healthy for your back. There should be turning to the opposite side occasionally to avoid spine and chest complications.
The bed should be stiff and not sinking. A hard material like a wooden board can be used to support the mattress from the underside. People experiencing back complications are advised to place their mattress to the floor. This will help in the improvement and quick recovery from back pain.
Proper Sleeping Position for Back Pain
You can treat or prevent neck pain by making adjustments on how you sleep. The two ideal sleep posture for neck pain are the side and back sleeping. Back sleeping ought to be done correctly since a poor one can complicate the situation. The rightful way to sleep on your back should involve the following.
Ensure that your spine remains in its neutral position as standing. Lumber support can be ideal for proper alignment of the spine. This can be made by rolling a soft piece of cloth like a sheet around the waist before getting to bed. The mattress should be supportive as sinking mattress will injure the spine. A standard pillow can however be placed under the knees to create more stability and laxity for comfortable sleeping.
According to the study those people with back conditions like lumber spinal stenosis experience pain while sleeping in any position. There could be a change only when the knees are bent.” When these people are sleeping, whether on the back or side, they like to bend their knees because that brings their legs up and opens up the back of their spine,”[Dr. Nick Shamie associate professor of orthopedic surgery at University of California, Los Angeles and spokesman for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.]
Proper sleeping positions for this spinal stenosis patients is attained by placing a pillow under the knees as they are lying on their backs. While sleeping on their sides the pillow is placed between their legs and let to bend the knees slightly. Pain can be eased by sleeping in fetal posture.
Proper Sleeping Position for Neck Pain
Sleeping on side or back are best postures for people experiencing neck problems. Patients with this condition should not sleep on their tummy. This posture requires the neck to be turned aside hence compressing and straining neck joints.
The pillow to be used in this case should be of thickness equivalent to the gap between the neck and the shoulders. It is more effective if the pillow is placed at an area above the shoulders. “You want a soft down pillow or something similar that you can kind of bulk and put into the hollow of your neck and support your head,”[ Ms. Brill a neck specialist]
Proper Sleeping Position for Neck Pain Tips
- Feather pillows are the most ideal for neck pain. They collapse after approximately one year hence replacement should be done.
- “Memory foam” traditional pillows are also the best in this case since they conform to the shape of the neck.
- Too stiff and high pillows are not the best. They have tendency to cause neck pain and morning neck stiffness.
- While sleeping on side a pillow that keeps your head at same level with your body is effective.
- Horse shoe shaped pillow can be used to keep the neck in position by preventing the head from falling while in some situation like watching television or riding in a car or plane.
Proper sleeping position during pregnancy
Proper sleeping position during pregnancy is a mandatory requirement. This is not only a safety for your health but also for the fetus. Pregnant women should not sleep on their back. This is risky and can lead to fainting and cases of dizziness. Back sleeping during pregnancy exerts more pressure on the organs in the abdomen cavity hence impairing digestion and circulation.
“If you sleep on your back, the enlarged uterus presses against the inferior vena cava, the vein that returns blood from the lower body to the heart.”[Vera Stucky, M.D., an obstetrician at the University of California, San Diego Medical Center]
Sleeping on the tummy is not recommendable during the pregnancy period. This is putting weight on the fetus. This posture will become difficult especially when the fetus is grown.” For obvious reasons, sleeping on your stomach isn’t a good idea after the fifth month of pregnancy. And it’s so uncomfortable that most women stop doing it much earlier.”[Vera Stucky, M.D., an obstetrician at the University of California, San Diego Medical Center]
The best proper sleeping position during pregnancy is to lie on the left side. This allows maximum blood flow to both the mother and the fetus. Sleeping on the right side is not ideal due to the location of vena cava vessel that is a major supply of the blood. It is placed at right side of the body and can be pressured.
Therefore, it is evident that proper sleeping position is key to the overall health of our bodies and we should always strive to attain a proper and significant sleeping posture.
9 Best Tips to Get Rid of Headache Fast Without Medicine
According to a report by the WHO, only 53% adults did not feel a headache since last year; which is quite alarming and common to be exact. Headache-the literal one- has been prevalent in all age groups since man came to earth and we get one at any time or any place. Although there are several reasons to why you would feel a headache, we will talk about how to purge off of them and get rid of headache.
1. Reduce Stress and Tension
Firstly, headaches can occur due to migraines, tension, allergic reaction, sunlight, any certain type of food, fever, stress and more. The most common cause of it is due to stress, migraine, allergic reaction and tension. Mostly, it is felt by people of all age groups and it is more prevalent in adults than in children. Besides this, frequent headaches can also be symptoms to a more complicated underlying medical condition like a brain tumor or any neurological problem, it is, therefore, best to consult a doctor before taking any hard drug.
2. Drink Enough Water
Water is an essential part to live and you should drink adequate amount of water. Water tends to “clear” your body of the toxin and make you feel better. It is best to at least drink 2.5 to 3.5 liters of water every day so that your body stays well. However, you should be aware that if you have a headache due to cold, excessive water intake can instead severely the ache, therefore, be aware of the cause of headache first.
3. Take Rest
For many, resting helps with less the pain and so you should try to find a place that is noiseless, placid, and where there is no source of heavy or bright light. Make sure you are away from all sorts of noise and then you take deep breaths. As there is no light and no sound, your brain will feel relief and this will actually help to get rid of headache. Sometimes, taking a short nap helps too, but if the agony is too much then trying to sleep becomes an ordeal instead.
4. Well Prepared Bedroom
A comfortable pillow and bed help like magic in reducing headaches, and you should, therefore, make sure that the bed you are lying on is actually giving you the peace of mind. For many, light intensity is a factor which makes either intensifies or lowers a headache. In the course of wintertime, it will be effective if the room you are in, is well heated.
5. Soft Massage
Massaging is an age-old remedying that helps to ease the pain. It is best if you can massage your forehead, especially the region around your temples. For many, an intense acupressure helps while for the others, a calm and easing massage is good. It is best for those who have the ache due to a tension or a worry; also, anxiety and depression cause headaches too. Migraine and sinus headaches can be relieved by fiddling the area around your nose and eye socket. Moreover, a good scalp massage using lukewarm oil is beneficial too.
Lemon is a valuable feature that helps to relieve the ache. You can try to do this: take a glass of warm water, mixed with lemon juice in it with some salt. Gulp it down and this home treatment will benefit you more than anything. Ginger, on the other hand, is a spice and it will wane the pain in your head. Try taking a piece of ginger in your mouth and chew on it like a chewing gum; it is best if you take a bit of honey with it else the ginger will burn your mouth. Also, you can try extracting the juice of the ginger, mix it with and then gulp it down by mixing it with lukewarm water. This can get rid of a headache.
Peppermint is comforting for headaches and you can try different methods to ingest it. Last but not the least, if you take a hot water bath, then, it can help too. Prolonged headaches are easily lessened if, you, every night, put your legs in a bucket full of hot water for about 15 to 20minutes.
8. Avoid Bad Habits
Try avoiding smoking and drinking because they contribute to you having a bad headache. If you want to get rid of your headache, you must avoid these.
In the past, there were no specialists or clinics or better methods to diagnose the reason of a headache. Besides this, there were no instant remedies to the problem, but, instant remedies do not always help or are good for the long term. To rid of headaches, the first thing you can do is take an Aspirin or a Paracetamol. These are available as over-the-counter drugs and come in all different proportions.
How to End an Anxiety Attack
Arm Yourself With Information
When you're having a panic attack or anxiety attack, the symptoms — chest pain, flushing skin, a racing heart, and difficulty breathing — can make you feel like you're going to faint, lose your mind, or die. But the reality is, you won’t. The key to surviving is to learn about anxiety attacks and practice the skills you need to get through them.
“These techniques take some getting used to,” said Chicago anxiety therapist Dave Carbonell, PhD, but learning how to cope with anxiety attacks is important so that fear of having another won't keep you at home or limit your activities. A study in Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine in 2013 found that multiple approaches to managing anxiety, including strategies like breathing and journaling, can help.
Here's how to stop an anxiety attack and recover.
Accept the Attack
“People have this powerful idea to make the attack stop,” Carbonell said, but you can’t make it stop through force of will. However, if you look back at your history, you'll see that every attack does indeed stop, even if it feels awful for a while.
Your best first step is to simply notice your symptoms and accept that you're having an attack. This can be challenging if it's one of your first attacks, but after that you'll know more about what to expect.
Once you know you’re having an attack, try to jot down a few of the symptoms and thoughts you are experiencing. This can help you put your attack into perspective.
“One of the things that worsens anxiety and can make it develop into panic attack is looking at those symptoms in a catastrophic way,” said Cheryl Carmin, PhD, director of clinical psychology training at Ohio State University's Wexner Medical Center and a professor at Ohio State in Columbus.
Writing down what you're experiencing can help prevent you from imagining the worst.
Feeling short of breath is a hallmark symptom of an anxiety attack. But you can make the feeling worse by taking short, shallow breaths. Try belly breathing instead.
Carbonell compared the type of breathing you’ll need to the breathing of infants, whose bellies rise and fall with each inhale and exhale. When an attack starts, exhale deeply, loosen your shoulders, and focus on some longer, deeper inhales and exhales that let your belly rise and fall. Place one hand on your belly if you need to feel this happening.
It's easy to say "just relax," right? But once you start to observe your body during a panic attack, you might find that certain parts of your body clench up during an attack. Make a deliberate effort to tighten and then relax those parts of your body.
Or, if those parts feel like they won’t obey during an attack, pick a body part that will respond, such as your toes or your shoulders. The more you can breathe deeply and relax, the easier it will be to cope.
Talk to Yourself
When you give yourself permission to have the attack, say it out loud. Remind yourself that the attack will end, and it won’t kill you or cause you to faint.
Carbonell said that understanding the physiology of fainting and reminding yourself of it is important. People faint when their blood pressure drops. A panic attack can make you feel like you’re going to faint, but you won’t because your blood pressure doesn't drop during an attack. Remind yourself out loud of truths like these to counter your fears.
Return to the Present
Although your gut response might be leave the stressful situation immediately, don’t. “Let your anxiety level come down,” advised Carmin. Then you can decide if you want to leave or if there's a way to get back to whatever you were doing when the attack started. Staying in the moment will help you overcome anxiety, but it’s hard to do this at first.
“It’s one of the things I respect the most about people I work with, that they are taking the leap of faith, and willing to do the things that terrify them," Carmin said. "That takes a lot of courage."
People often fear the worst when they're having an anxiety attack. Most of the time, there’s no underlying physical problem, such as a real heart attack. But you should get the medical all-clear if you have repeat episodes, just to be sure you don’t need additional treatment. Then find a cognitive behavioral therapist with experience treating anxiety to help you through.
Yoga for Anxiety: Overcoming Panic Attacks with Yoga
How yoga for anxiety helped one woman overcome her panic attacks.
At the onset, one hot summer night, at 2:00 a.m., I thought I had the flu. A strong wave of nausea sat me straight up in bed and brought my awareness to a heavily pounding heart. Sweat beaded upon my upper lip. Fear pounded my bones. I went to the bathroom and spent the rest of the morning sleeping on the cold tile floor.
Each night, for months, this powerful set of symptoms woke me, leaving me boggle-eyed and foggy throughout each day. It’s discombobulating effect sent me to the doctor where I was diagnosed, at the age of 28, with a panic disorder.
Mental health had been an issue since I was in college. Depression and anxiety were no strangers to my life, but this panic disorder diagnosis had me spinning. Daily, I experienced intense episodes of fear coupled with severe nausea. I suffered from ongoing migraines, stress-induced gastritis, and developed a hernia. Medications weren’t helping and—in one doctor’s opinion—making me worse. For months, I was bed-ridden, leaving my children and husband in the shadow of my illness. After two psychiatrists, one psychologist, one counselor, and years of non-change, I needed to set out upon a new path. It started with pranayama.
Ten years prior, at the age of 18, I was married, a mother of two children, and a student at Washington State University. Overwhelmed by stress, I sought therapy. Through counseling services at my University, I met a Psychology Department intern who was studying the effects of breathing on mental health. For three months I participated, meeting with her weekly to work on deep breathing techniques. I wasn’t completely aware of it then, but the breath work was relaxing my muscles and sympathetic nervous system; I was finding stillness and peace where before I had only anxiety. While I relished the soothing effects, after the three months of training—like so often happens—I ignored the thing that was so good for me.
At 28, I recalled these techniques, remembering how it had worked to reduce intense feelings, like fear. I requested my medical records and found out the treatment I had received 10 years prior was called Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). The therapy included training in mindfulness, non-judgment, acceptance, distress tolerance, mantras, and relaxation.
Using these techniques, I practiced and journaled for two years. During this time, I began attending Buddhist gatherings and yoga classes, which echoed many of the topics related to DBT. Soon my dedicated home yoga practice was born.
I saw major improvements. Using my breathing practices, stressful situations no longer pushed me over the edge. Instead of dealing with paralyzing bouts of fear, I now had a way to breathe and reboot. After six months without a panic attack, my doctor took me off all antidepressant medication. I was rising out of my lifelong struggle with anxiety and panic, and my nights on the bathroom floor were getting fewer and farther between.
Since using breathing techniques in combination with my yoga practice for the past four years, I have evolved from an anxiety-ridden insomniac into a well balanced, healthy, and mindful yogini. I am now an active participant in my life—running, practicing yoga, and meditating almost daily. I play with my kids and laugh with my husband. Yoga, and the ancient scriptures connected to it, such as Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, have dialed-in my recovery from the debilitating effects of the panic disorder, now in remission for over a year.
I live in joy, centeredness, and health. I’ve never been happier or lived with such openness—it feels too good to be true. It wasn’t medication or doctors, but an ancient school of thought on the practices of yoga, which lifted me from out of suffering.
WHY LAUGHTER IS THE BEST MEDICINE WHEN YOU LIVE IN PAIN
Constantly coping with pain, hiding its intensity from others and trying to maintain hope despite so many fears, makes living with pain a tricky business [and a highly one stressful too].
Add the seemingly endless cornucopia of symptoms of CRPS and fibromyalgia, which include energy-zapping fatigue, nausea, pain-wired insomnia, and a brain that’s so clogged with fog – it’s a wonder we manage at all – and it swiftly becomes clear that anything which helps us see the lighter side of life is essential.
Whatever the cause of your pain, the old aphorism is a true one: laughter is powerful medicine and having a giggle really does help you cope with chronic illness and can even reduce your pain. Aside from the accompanying joy and relaxation, which is always key in lowering pain levels, laughter also releases those happy chemicals that are even more vital for chronic pain patients.
The human race has one really effective weapon – laughter. ~ Mark Twain
Humour helps create distance from our everyday challenges, creating a more positive attitude. Seeing the joy, blessings and humour in things can be a far finer vantage point from which to view life, especially a life so irrevocably challenged and altered by chronic illness and pain. There may be many things you long to change but for now, having a good giggle may be just the thing to lift you out of a darker space, distract you from the incessant pain and help your overall well-being ta boot.
There is clearly nothing funny about being in pain itself but research now confirms that laughter offers a wealth of benefits for those living with chronic pain. Laughter is immensely healing on every level, which makes ensuring that your life is graced with as much humour as possible a vital part of managing your condition and pain.
Ways That Laughter Heals
Laughter is clinically proven to have many powerful effects on physical, emotional health and well-being. It can helps you relax, reduces stress, and also helps people be more compassionate and open-hearted, making it easier to reach out to others. Laughter reduces depression and provides welcome distraction from the evil pain. It also triggers many additional healing processes that can benefit your entire being.
The boost to the immune system alone is worth the guffaw, snorting and tears rolling down your cheeks. Laughter is immensely therapeutic for body, mind and soul with the added benefit of being free and especially joyful too. In fact, nothing works more swiftly or more dependably to bring the mind and body back into balance than having a good giggle.
But it’s no fun being ill and in pain, what could we possibly laugh about? Finding humour may be a task in itself but a rewarding one, which swiftly becomes second nature (anyone who knows me knows that I laugh a lot and really quite loudly). Try the suggestions at the end of the piece to generate more giggles.
You don’t have to be happy to get the benefits, the body and mind can be fooled in countless ways and you can feel better just by the physical act of faking laughter. If you’re in a blah mood, or better yet, in a lousy why-won’t-this-ever-end mood, do this silly [but effective] experiment:
- Smile and do the ‘ha ha ha’ of laughing (fully aware that this sounds daft but stick with me here…)
- Keep going for a couple of minutes, really laugh from deep in your belly.
- As soon as you begin, you’re generating the happy chemicals and you will feel better.
- I was first shown this ‘technique’ (!) at a Taoist workshop with Master Mantak Chia. He called it ‘Laughing Chi Kung’ – and there was a whole room full of people cackling, giggling and generally cracking up. It was hilarious.
Try it – a study in Spain showed that self-induced laughter has the same effects on the body, and releases the same beneficial hormones, as spontaneous laughter. Maybe try it when alone though, to save any sideways glances and odd looks!
Laughter inspires hope, connects you with others, benefits your body, liberates your spirit and helps you have an especially good time. With so much power to heal and renew, here’s why you should embrace the healing power of laughter…
Helps You Take Yourself Less Seriously
Chronic illness brings so many challenges that can easily get the better of you; when you become the problems and take yourself too seriously, it can be hard to think outside the box to find solutions. One essential characteristic of people who laugh more often is not taking themselves too seriously.
Look for the humour in bad situations and uncover the irony and illogicality of life. It helps improve your mood and that of those around you. Many things in life are beyond your control, particularly when living with pain.
Some events are clearly sad and not occasions for laughter, but many events in life don’t carry an overwhelming sense of dread or delight. They fall somewhere in the middle, giving you the choice to see humour and blessings should you choose to.
Spend time with people who laugh easily – both at themselves and at life’s absurdities – and who routinely find the humour in everyday events; a playful point of view, like laughter, is contagious. Obviously, chronic pain and illness can make any kind of social life a distant memory but trying to connect with others is paramount to your well-being.
Connecting with those who enjoy life [in spite of its many challenges] is healing to everyone.
The ability to laugh, or at least smile, when times get tough, can go a long way in improving your mood and outlook. Even in the most difficult of times, humour is one of the finest ways to reduce stress and anxiety, while increasing your resilience and ability to cope. It helps you have an optimistic outlook through difficult situations, disappointments and loss, all of which are sadly part of living with severe pain and chronic illness.
More than just a respite from sadness and pain, laughter gives you the courage and strength to find new sources of meaning and hope. Laughter has also been found to help us to focus on solutions to problems and challenges, and achieve more productive outcomes.
Stephanie Davies, author of Laughology: The Science of Laughter and a behaviourist, is pioneering a project in Bradford to promote resilience and help people cope in difficult situations. “In an ideal world it would be great if we were all happy all of the time but we are not, we are human beings and it is healthy to be sad.” What really counts, she says, is the way people cope with difficulties.
“The real key to happiness is to enable people to be more resilient and to feel more supported by one another and to have friendlier communities.” Laughology aims to get people to remember ‘laughter triggers’ – funny memories – to help them feel positive.
“If we laugh we feel better about a situation, if we see something in a different way and find the humour in it we can almost take a mental step back from it and not be so negatively emotionally involved,” adds Stephanie.
Eases Pain [and Helps You Cope with It]
Many studies validate the pain relieving effects of laughter. Further studies also show that watching comedy films assists both children and adults to tolerate pain more easily. An Oxford University study in 2011 found that after watching comedy videos, people could withstand 10 per cent more pain than before watching the videos, showing that laughter increases our pain threshold. The test subjects [who watched the funny videos] had a higher pain threshold compared to those who watched videos of the un-side-splitting variety.
As little as 15 minutes of laughter was enough to increase pain tolerance by 10 per cent.
The most pain-reliving type of laughter is that spontaneous belly laugh, as opposed to a little titter. When you explode in a fit of giggles it releases the highest amount of endorphins. If you don’t feel like laughing because you’re in pain and neither pills nor therapies seem to make it better, try the suggestions at the end, such as watching a comedy film to encourage producing your own pain-reducing endorphins. As little as 15 minutes of laughter was enough to increase pain tolerance by 10 per cent.
Can Stimulate the Body Similar to Exercise
Laughing hard exercises the muscles and organs and increases intake of much-needed oxygen. The heart beats faster, pushing the oxygen through the veins and to every part of the body, and the facial muscles, stomach, lungs, and heart all have a workout. Laughter improves blood circulation, digestion, metabolism and elimination of toxic substances from the body. By increasing blood distribution to muscles and brain, it also improves function.
It even appears to burn calories, too. Vanderbilt University researcher Maciej Buchowski conducted a small study in which he measured the amount of calories expended in laughing. Based on his findings, 10-15 minutes of laughter burned 50 calories. Sadly it’s not as effective as being active and exercising, though for those with physical limitations and severe pain, laughter really is true medicine.
Helps You Fall Asleep
Having a good laugh prior to sleep reduces stress and anxiety, promoting a deeper, more restful sleep, even in patients with sleeping difficulties. “Belly laughter saved my life” said Norman Cousins, after having difficulties sleeping due to chronic pain from an accident. Norman took to laughing for 10 minutes to have at least two hours of pain-free sleep, which may sound humble to those mysterious healthy folk but as everyone with CRPS or a complicated pain condition knows, sleep can be gold dust.
Laughter provides a mild aerobic workout, which may energize you in the short term but also helps you to sleep better through the night. Obviously, laughter alone can’t guarantee even the most tired and pained-up of princesses [and princes] a good kip, but it is worth ensuring your life is as filled with as much joy and laughter as possible for your overall well-being.
A little humour on the darker days can bring light to even the saddest of souls. Because laughter stimulates production of the happy hormone, serotonin, and also creates more endorphins; it puts us on a natural high, helping us take on a more positive perspective. Much has been written about endorphins, particularly serotonin, which has been found to be at far lower levels in fibromyalgia patients than our healthy counterparts.
Additionally, laughter provides an effective distraction from anxiety, sadness or anger. Allowing you to see situations in a less threatening light, it can help you find new perspective. This creates psychological distance, which can stop you feeling overwhelmed by your chronic pain and illness.
Humour gets you out of your head and away from your troubles, albeit temporarily, and the accumulative effect of laughing regularly increases your ability to cope. Depression also is often a sign that serotonin levels are far too low so welcome anything that increases serotonin in your body. The increased production of serotonin helps release muscle stress or tension which may account for why a really good laugh can leave you feeling as though your body has turned to jelly.
One option that I do myself, is to supplement with tryptophan, an essential amino acid (building block of protein) that the body converts into serotonin and melatonin. Best taken before sleep, the [very] happy side effects are accompanied by a reduction in pain. Increasing your intake of tryptophan-rich foods is beneficial. As this amino acid works best on an empty stomach (because it does not need to compete with other amino acids), if you take a supplement, do so last thing at night or first thing in the morning.
Warning: Always contact your doctor before taking L-tryptophan or any other nutritional supplement: tryptophan is contraindicated if you take antidepressants, especially SRRIs.
Reduces Stress and Anxiety
It is normal to focus on pain, but when pain is chronic and you are doing all you can do to manage it, paying too much attention to pain does make a difference and can even make the pain experience worse, increasing negative emotions including depression, anxiety, fear and overall stress. It’s unrealistic to suggest ignoring pain when it’s so intense but by bringing more humour into your life, you’ll find your ability to cope strengthened and anxiety reduced.
Anxiety, depression and stress weaken the immune system, leaving you more susceptible to infection, but are sadly so often part of living in pain. But by laughing, you instantly suppress the release of stress-related hormones, such as cortisol, epinephrine (adrenaline) and dopamine, while increasing the production of serotonin and endorphins, reducing effects of stress.
A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after. Laughing takes you to a higher place where you can view the world from a more relaxed and balanced perspective. Even in the most difficult of times, a laugh – or even simply a smile – can go a long way toward making you feel better.
A study published by Berk et al in 2008 reported that anticipation of laughter reduced the levels of three stress hormones: cortisol, epinephrine or adrenaline; and dopac (a brain chemical which helps produce epinephrine). Showing that anticipation of humour appears to be every bit as important for reducing stress and boosting our immune system as actually laughing.
Strengthens Your Immune System
Positive emotions and laughter trigger the release of neurotransmitters. These brain chemicals enter the blood stream and plug in to the receptors on the surface of immune cells, altering the cell’s metabolic activity in a positive way. “Your immune system is boosted by up to 40 per cent,” explains laughter therapist Julie Whitehead, Great Ormond Street Hospital. Prolonged laughter has also been shown to lower blood pressure and improve mental function.
Because the majority of your immune system and your serotonin are in your gut, the healthier your gastrointestinal (GI) tract, the healthier your immune system and the more serotonin you’ll have. Because IBS is so frequently a complication of many pain conditions, the health of your gut becomes more vital, especially when already facing so many additional challenges.
Taking a good probiotic and including live yogurt in your diet is vital for chronic pain sufferers as no matter how immaculate your resilience and coping strategy, pain can and does get depressing. Laughing improves the body’s natural defence mechanisms by decreasing stress hormones and increasing the amount of immunoglobulin’s and T-cells cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.
It also expands the arteries’ inner walls thus increasing the ability of blood to flow around the body, reducing heart disease. This positive effect also lasts for up to 45 minutes after laughing. A study at Indiana State with cancer patients also confirmed that laughter increases killer cell activity against cancer cells.
Benefits the Lungs
Lying down all the time is not ideal for your lungs, though often unavoidable during excruciating flare-ups of pain. Our breathing may be shallower and the inactivity due to disability and pain also reduces lung capacity.
In the throes of hysterical laughter, the respiratory system is stimulated by forcing us to take in more oxygen and expel more carbon dioxide, which makes our breathing deeper. Some experts believe it may also increase lung capacity. By having a laugh, we also take in more oxygen, which benefits health in many ways but particularly supports our lungs.
Strengthens Bonding to Others
The highly infectious sound of someone exploding in a fit of giggles is far more contagious than a cough or sniff [and a lot more fun]. When we share laughter, its beneficial effects magnify significantly.
A powerful and effective way to heal resentments, disagreements and hurts, laughter can unite people during difficult times and renew relationships. Laughter causes the release of oxytocin. Often called the empathy hormone, oxytocin helps bond and connect people together.
Makes You Look Younger & is Good for Your Skin
Even the skin benefits from regular laughter. The temporary increase in blood flow and pressure, along with increased heart rate, causes the capillaries close to the skin to dilate in a similar way to when we exercise. As many as 15 facial muscles work together to help you smile and laugh. An increase in the intake of oxygen is also beneficial to your skin. One study found that laughter dilates the inner lining of our blood vessels, the endothelium, which is why it improves circulation.
Ways to Incorporate More Laughter into Your Life
- Read funny fiction: Goodreads is the ultimate resource in finding good books. Try these non-fiction funnies, also these fiction funnies. Connecting with other readers is always a good way to find great books.
- Search for comedy videos on You Tube – Whatever tickles your humour, save them in your watch list to view whenever you are feeling down or flared-up.
- Watch comedy films and television series: IMDB is a great resource. Also have a scroll through Netflix and Amazon Instant Video.
- Watch stand-up comedy – personal favourites include: Dylan Moran, Eddie Izzard, Russell Brand but whatever your individual tastes, take a peek at Comedy Central’s comedian list here and get a dose of the good stuff.
- Bring humour into conversations –Ask people, “What’s the funniest thing that happened to you today? This week? In your life?” Talking about what is funny, obscure, preposterous or just plain silly can relieve a little of the tension of the human spirit and heals in quite the loveliest way.
- Go to a comedy club: If you are physically able to get out of the house, visiting a comedy club is guaranteed to raise some giggles.
- Listen to comedy shows on the radio and internet stations
- Read the comics or find online sites with funny cartoons, illustrations, images. Social media is also a good source.
- Spend time with children: They are experts and living in the moment and taking life lightly. Children are estimated to giggle 300 times a day, spending time with the little people can lift even the saddest of hearts and help distract you from the pain.
- Smile more often – Like laughter, smiling is contagious and releases happy chemicals. Pioneers in “laugh therapy,” find it’s possible to laugh without even experiencing a funny event. The same holds for smiling. When you look at someone or see something pleasing, practice smiling.
- Surround yourself with things that bring joy – If you spend most of your day in bed or house-bound, put up a few funny and inspiring posters on your walls. Frame photos of you and your family or friends having fun. Surround yourself with things that please, nurture and remind you that there is still joy in living, even if the challenges are so great.
- Count your blessings – The simple act of considering the good things in your life will distance you from negative thoughts that are a barrier to humour and laughter. There are always others in the world who are worse off. We may be in the worst kind of pain and missing the life we longed for but we have shelter, food, water too. Those are blessings. Gratitude is a beautiful thing. Now laugh and laugh some more.
Great Allergy Relief Measures For Every Person
If you are plagued with sniffling, coughing, itchy eyes and throat or runny nose during certain times of the year, chances are that you are an allergy victim. The symptoms can be easily confused as having a common cold, but can be managed! Read closely to see how to effectively deal with your symptoms.
Shower and shampoo before going to sleep. A quick rinse before bed can prevent a nightly episode.
If you can choose, do not put any carpeting or big rugs in your home. It is practically impossible to keep carpets totally clean, as mites, dust, pollen and dander cling to the fibers and irritate those with allergies. Try to install floors that can be mopped and swept with ease.
TIP! Before going to bed, take a bath and thoroughly wash your hair. During the daytime, your skin and hair may become covered with dust, pollen or spores, which makes you more likely to experience allergic symptoms during the night.
Are you aware that your body is potentially causing your allergies? As your go through your day, pollen and dust sticks into your hair, body and clothing. When your day is done and you go to bed, these substances can be very problematic for your lungs.
If you plan to exercise outdoors during times of high pollen, try doing it in the late evening or early morning. Studies have shown pollen counts are lowest during these times of the day and you will be most comfortable.
You can find a large number of over-the-counter and prescription remedies for allergies, but you may need to try a few before you find the one that works best for you. Talk with your doctoring about possibly getting a sample pack or buy the smallest size available. Using this method, you can try a different medicine without spending a lot of money.
TIP! Avoid paper products and textiles that contain dyes, which are common causes of allergic reactions. This may even include your toilet paper because there could be designs that are dyed onto them.
Think about getting rid of your house. If your home is carpeted throughout, think about switching over to tile, tile or wood floors. This can greatly reduce allergy-causing substances that you could potentially breathe. If you can’t replace your carpet, make certain to run your vacuum daily.
Olive trees have begun gaining popularity in western states. These particular trees produce a lot of pollen.Learning to recognize this type of tree can help prepare you decide your plan of action for protecting yourself from its allergy-producing properties. Using a garden hose to spray down a tree can decrease the amount of pollen in the air.
The western part of the country has seen an upsurge in the popularity of olive trees as decoration. Unfortunately, these trees produce a huge amount of pollen. You should research this tree and others that produce a lot of pollen and make sure you stay away from them. Lots of people have discovered that putting water hoses on a tree several minutes per day can decrease pollen problems.
TIP! If you own a pet and you suffer from allergies, you might be wondering weather your pet in to blame for your symptoms. Go to an allergist to have a test done so you will know the cause of your allergies.
Instead of shying away from doing fun activities in public places such as restaurants due to the embarrassing symptoms associated to your allergies, try to take control of it. Knowing your allergy treatment options is key to regaining control. Apply these tips and live a better life.
Good Tips On How To Live With Back Pain
What more is there that you desire other than fantastic tips for taking care of your back pain? There is not much else, if you are currently suffering. Back pain can stop you from living your life and this article will provide tips on how you can deal with the pain you are having now and prevent it from reoccurring in the future.
Remain as active as possible during a bout of back pain, as it has been shown that activity is more helpful to recovery than lying in bed. Try to carry out normal activities, within reason, as studies have shown that this leads to a more rapid recovery than bed rest or back-specific exercise.
Don’t ignore the pain. If you know a particular activity is going to exacerbate your pain, then don’t do that activity. Ignoring it will not make it go away faster. In fact, pushing through the pain will probably result in further injury, making the pain last even longer.
Make sure you keep the amount of twisting to a minimum, especially if you’re carrying something heavy. If you’re twisting or turning excessively, you could end up pulling a muscle or damaging your spine. When at all possible, keep the amount of twisting you do to a minimum, if you can’t eliminate it completely.
To determine your back pain’s severity and to avoid worsening the injury, try resting for a couple days after you experience pain. If the pain goes away in that period, it’s safe to assume that the injury was minor. Conversely, if your pain does not diminish or increases in severity, you should probably consult your physician to find out what is wrong. Resting more than two days is counterproductive because of muscle atrophy, so you are doing more harm than good in this instance.
Support your back! Avoid back pain. If you sleep on your back, it is important to add support underneath you to optimize comfort for your back and minimize back pain. Generally, it is suggested that you – put a pillow under your knees and under your lower back – in order to maintain the proper support and comfort while you are sleeping.
The use of acupuncture and massages are found to be wonderful in relieving back pain. Both of these techniques will release endorphins into your body which will make you feel a lot better, and allow your body to relax. Once that happens your muscles can get the help that they need.
Back surgery can sometimes be used to fix paralysis and restore motion. Other rare conditions may exist where surgery may be needed to correct a physical deformity. Degenerative damage usually cannot be reversed, but surgery may prevent further degeneration.
In conclusion, you want to know the best advice possible for your back because it is stopping you from getting out there and living your life to the fullest. Start today and use the tips and tricks that have been provided in order to try to prevent future pain and ease the current pain.
10 Weird Side Effects of Stress
All the things going on in your life -- work, family, trying to get (or stay!) fit, etc. -- can all add up to stress, even if the stressor is a positive one. “Stress is a physiological and emotional response to a threat,” says John McGrail, Ph.D., a Los Angeles-based clinical hypnotherapist and author of “The Synthesis Effect: Your Direct Path to Personal Power and Transformation.” The problem is that modern society often creates long-term chronic stress, which can be devastating to both the mind and body. The effects of chronic stress can manifest in some surprising ways. Read on to discover 10 weird side effects of stress.
1. Stress Slows Recovery From a Workout High levels of stress hormones circulating through your system can make it harder for your body to recover from a workout, according to a study in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research. The study evaluated the relationship between perceived mental stress and workout recovery among 31 college students and found that the students with high levels of stress experienced worse recoveries as rated by feelings of energy, fatigue and soreness. “Since elevated cortisol levels break down muscle and store fat, chronic stress keeps hormones jacked up, which delays your workout recovery,” says JJ Virgin, Ph.D., celebrity fitness trainer, nutritionist and author of “The Virgin Diet.” Include a yoga class in between HIIT workouts to help you recover faster.
2. Stress Messes With Your Memory Trying to remember where you put your car keys becomes even harder when you’re stressed about getting to your appointment on time, says a study from the Nature Reviews Neuroscience. The study shows stress creates changes in the brain that can produce long-term consequences for mental performance. Another study from the University of Iowa links high levels of stress with changes in the short-term memory center of the brain in older rats. “Stress can ‘fog up’ your memory, so remembering simple things becomes a monumental hurdle,” says Virgin. Go for a relaxing walk outside to de-stress and keep all your marbles.
3. Stress Causes Weight Gain Can stress make you fat? Apparently so. According to a study in the journal Obesity, which followed 5,000 people over five years, psychosocial stress, including life events and perceived stress, links to weight gain but not weight loss. “People tend to reach for sugary, fatty and salty foods when they’re stressed,” says Pamela Peeke, M.D., senior science adviser for Elements Behavioral Health and author of “The Hunger Fix.” In addition, research suggests eating fatty foods when your cortisol levels are high (such as when under stress) actually lowers your metabolism. Swap your fast-food fixes for healthier choices and wean yourself off addictive junk food, says Peeke.
4. Stress Keeps You Up at Night Stress over work issues or life events can keep you tossing and turning all night, taking away from restful sleep. This loss of sleep links to a number of health issues, including a greater risk of heart disease and obesity and a compromised immune system. “Problem is, it’s a vicious cycle, where insomnia worsens stress and depression, which then keeps you up at night,” says Virgin. Sleep better and de-stress at the same time by exercising 30 minutes on most days of the week.
5. Stress Weakens Your Immune System Chronic stress can make it harder for you to fend off viruses and bugs by lowering your immune system response, shows a study from the journal Psychological Bulletin. Interestingly, the study shows that short-term stress (such as a sudden reaction to a life-and-death situation) produced beneficial changes in the immune system. But the more chronic the stress, the greater negative impact on the immune system, which researchers believe may be due to hormonal changes. Listen to calming music to help take the edge off.
6. Stress Triggers Hair Loss If you’ve ever seen fur fly off Fido when you bring him to the vet, you’ve witnessed the direct and instant effect of stress on hair loss. Although not as dramatic in humans, a traumatic event or stressor can cause hair loss two to three months afterward, says Robert Dorin, D.O., New York-based hair-restoration expert. Telogen effluvium is a condition caused by stress in which the hairs’ growth phase is prematurely shifted into its resting phase, resulting in thinning of the hair, he says. Psychological and/or physical stressors such as depression, anxiety, lack of sleep and chronic illness can all trigger telogen effluvium. Fortunately, it does not cause permanent damage and improves once the stress resolves, says Dorin.
7. Stress Wrecks Sexual Performance Stress can also take the wind out of your sails in the bedroom. This can occur in a variety of ways, says Muhammad Mirza, M.D., a men’s health expert and founder of erectiledoctor.com. “Stress can make a man feel no longer interested in sexual activity altogether. Feeling stressed about intimacy itself can result in performance anxiety.” Left on its own, ongoing stress can also cause chemical and hormonal changes that can lead to worsening sexual problems in the form of erectile dysfunction and/or loss of libido, says Mirza. Stress-induced performance anxiety can be tackled most efficiently with the help of a qualified sex therapist or mental health professional who deals with sexual dysfunction in men.
8. Stress Impacts Vision Eyes also feel the impact of stress. Stress-related eye symptoms range from simple eye twitches to hysterical blindness (reduced peripheral vision), says Andrea Thau, O.D., spokeswoman for the American Optometric Association (AOA). Hysterical blindness requires identifying the underlying cause of the emotional stress. A more common symptom, an eyelid twitch called myokymia, can also be induced by stress. In addition to eliminating the cause of the stress, Thau recommends alternating hot and cold compresses or drinking tonic water (which contains quinine). In rare instances, if it lasts for a few weeks, it may require further evaluation by your eye doctor.
9. Stress Causes Type 2 Diabetes Men under chronic stress have a substantially higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, compared with men who report no stress or occasional stress, says a Swedish study. More than 6,800 men involved with the study rated their stress level on a six-point scale based on factors such as irritation, anxiety and conditions at work and home. Men who reported permanent stress related to work or home conditions within the previous one to five years had a 45 percent higher risk of developing diabetes. To stop stress from affecting your health, you must learn to adapt and adjust, says Pamela Peeke, M.D., senior science adviser for Elements Behavioral Health. “When you feel stressed, start looking for solutions. If there’s no way around it, learn how to change your attitude towards the situation.”
10. Stress Triggers Allergy Attacks If you noticed an uptick in your allergy symptoms, it could be related to your new job or home stresses, according to an Ohio State University study. The 12-week study involved 179 patients and found increased allergy flare-ups linked within days of increased daily stress. And in a high-stress group, 64 percent had more than four flare-ups over two 14-day periods. Practicing regular meditation can help ease stress, says Pamela Peeke, M.D., senior science adviser for Elements Behavioral Health, who practices transcendental meditation.
Cycling Away from Chronic Pain
In pain? No problem! A moderate to vigorous workout could help you feel better
Bear with me on this because what may appear to be TMI will make sense soon enough: I am prone to migraines and sinus problems, an unfortunate double-whammy, since I live in the Washington, D.C., area, which has frequent changes in barometric pressure (a common trigger for migraine episodes). In recent years, I have found that when I have slight headache twinges in the morning, I often feel a whole lot better after an indoor cycling class, without having to take pain-relieving medication.
I figured this was just a personal quirk—albeit a good one!—until I came across some scientific studies suggesting that indoor cycling really can help migraine sufferers and others who suffer from various forms of chronic pain.
On the headache front, a 2009 study from the Cephalea Headache Centre in Gothenburg, Sweden, found that when people with migraine performed an exercise program based on indoor cycling three times per week, their aerobic fitness levels increased and their migraine status (including the frequency of migraine attacks, symptom intensity, and their use of medicine) improved significantly. In 2011, the same researchers found that exercising for 40 minutes three times per week led to a greater decrease in migraine attacks than taking a preventive anticonvulsant drug did, after three months. This may be because cardiovascular exercise “can activate multiple pain modulatory mechanisms, if not the underlying mechanisms that initiate the attack,” according to a 2013 paper in the journal Migraine.
But it also could be because aerobic exercise like indoor cycling triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers.
The truth is, the pain-relieving effects of indoor cycling aren’t exclusive to migraines. This form of exercise also can relieve pain and improve movement among people with osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee.
In fact, a 2012 study from Northern Illinois University found that when people with knee OA did stationary cycling workouts for 12 weeks, their walking pace improved significantly and their scores on various pain measures dropped considerably.
Meanwhile, indoor cycling can ease other forms of pain between the groin and the chin. A 2013 study from the University of Western Sydney in Australia found that after people with chronic non-specific low back pain did eight weeks of cycling workouts on a stationary bicycle, their pain decreased significantly (though not quite as much as a comparable group who did Pilates trunk exercises); by the six-month mark, however, people in both groups had gained similar improvements.
What’s more, a 2010 study from Denmark found that when people with work-related neck and shoulder muscle pain performed 20 minutes of moderate intensity cycling in an upright position with relaxed shoulders, they gained greater oxygenation of the neck and shoulder muscles; this is significant because it may explain why cycling with your shoulders relaxed (which you should be doing anyway, as part of proper indoor cycling form) results in decreased neck and shoulder muscle pain.
The bottom line: If you suffer from some form of chronic pain, it’s worth giving indoor cycling a try—either in a group class or as a solo workout—assuming, of course, that you have the green light from your doctor. But it’s important to remember that every body is different: So while moderate to vigorous exercise, such as indoor cycling, may have a pain-relieving effect for some people, it could conceivably exacerbate pain flare-ups for others. That’s why it’s important to test the waters carefully. As you ride, make an effort to calm your mind and listen to your body, and pace yourself during the workout; breathe smoothly and stay sufficiently hydrated, too. Trust the way you feel while you’re cycling because you are the best gauge of whether your workout is relieving or aggravating your pain.
Simple Meditation Exercises to Help You Relax
Doing simple exercises can help us feel less worried and stressed.
Simple breathing exercise
Sitting comfortably, breathe gently, slowly and evenly.
Notice the stretching sensation as you breathe in. As you breathe out notice the relaxation that follows.
Count in your mind, letting each count last about a second:
1) Rest your hand on your belly button. Take a normal breath and hold it as you count to 5.
2) Breathe out slowly, relaxing your shoulders, face and body, as you count to 4.
3) Breathe in slowly, letting your hand move outwards with your stomach, as you count to 4.
4) Breathe out slowly and let your hand and stomach move inwards, as you count to 4.
5) Breathe like this for 5 more breaths, focusing on your hand and stomach as they rise and fall, relaxing more with each breath.
6) Hold your breath like you did at the beginning and repeat the whole exercise again.
What's this good for?
- Helping panic attacks
- Boosting concentration
- Preparing for difficult tasks
- Sleeping better
Muscle relaxation exercise
Sit or lie down and make yourself comfortable.
As you do this exercise use the comfortable stomach breathing from above.
1) Breathe in, clench your right hand, notice the tension in your hand and arm.
Breathe out, relax, notice the difference.
2) Breathe in, clench your left hand, notice the tension.
Breathe out, relax, notice the difference.
Notice how comfortably heavy your hands and arms feel when you let them relax.
3) Breathe in, clench your thighs and buttocks, notice the tension.
Breathe out, relax, notice the difference.
4) Breathe in, bend your feet up, notice the tension in your legs and feet.
Breathe out, relax, notice the difference.
5) Breathe in and point your toes, notice the tension in your legs and feet.
Breathe out, relax, notice the difference.
What's this good for?
- Soothing aches and pains
- Letting go of tension
Acupuncture may be antidote for allergies
Acupuncture already helps to relieve pain in some patients, and the latest study hints that it might relieve sneezing and itchy eyes as well.
Most patients plagued with sniffles brought on by seasonal allergies turn to antihistamines for relief, but when they don't get relief, some opt for alternative treatments like acupuncture, in which tiny needles inserted just under the skin at specific points in the body are used to reduce certain symptoms.
In a study published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers examined 422 people who tested positive for pollen allergies and had allergic nasal symptoms such as a runny nose. The participants reported their symptoms as well as what medication and doses they used to treat them.
The researchers then divided them into three groups; one received 12 acupuncture treatments and took antihistamines as needed, a second group received 12 fake acupuncture treatments (needles placed at random, non-meaningful points in the body) and took antihistamines as needed, while the final group only took antihistamines for symptoms.
After two months, the researchers asked the patients about their symptoms and how much medication they used. The participants who received the real acupuncture treatments with their antihistamines showed a greater improvement in their allergy symptoms and less use of antihistamines compared to the other groups.
But the fact that even the participants receiving the sham acupuncture therapy reported some relief of their symptoms suggests that a strong placebo effect may be responsible for at least part of the improvement.
That possibility was supported by the fact that after four months of follow-up, the difference between the groups was less pronounced. The researchers speculate that the patients' expectations of how much the acupuncture might help them could have influenced their reports of improved symptoms.
But if the treatments are providing some type of relief, then acupuncture's potential role in treating allergies should be investigated further, the authors say. "The effectiveness of acupuncture for (seasonal allergies) compared with other antiallergic interventions and the possible underlying mechanisms of any effect, including context effects, need to be addressed in further research," they write in the study.
That view is supported by Dr. Remy Coeytaux of the Duke Clinical Research Institute and Dr. Jongbae of the Regional Center for Neurosensory Disorders and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who wrote an editorial accompanying the study.
They note that acupuncture's benefits have started to emerge over the last 15 years and enough high-quality clinical trials support "patient-level meta-analyses for several clinical indications." They suggest that more rigorous research, which would include comparing acupuncture with existing treatments for conditions such as allergies, should be conducted in coming years.
They write: "It may be time to begin asking such questions as: How does acupuncture compare directly with other therapeutic approaches? Which of the many acupuncture traditions or approaches is most effective or appropriate for a given clinical indication? What outcomes or process measures should we be assessing in clinical trials of acupuncture? Is the magnitude of effect, if any, associated with acupuncture for a given clinical indication 'worth it' from the perspective of patients, payers, or policymakers?"
In the meantime, study author Dr. Benno Brinkhaus of the Institute for Social Medicine, Epidemiology and Health Economics at Charité University Medical Center in Berlin wrote in an e-mail response describing the study that "From my experience as a physician and acupuncturist, and as a researcher, I would recommend trying acupuncture if patients are not satisfied with the conventional anti-allergic medication or treatment or they suffer from more or less serious sides effects of the conventional medication. Also because acupuncture is a relative safe treatment."
Until more stringent studies document what effects acupuncture might have on the sneezing and sniffling of allergies, however, you may not know for sure whether those sessions under the needles are likely to do you any good.
Sleep Well, Live Well: 10 Sleep Hacks to Help You Live Your Best Life
Nothing is good when you are tired. It’s like the world is out to get you and all you can do is put your head down and wait for the day to be over. No bueno.
On top of making you feel awful, sleep deprivation can hurt your performance at work. Not only does it decrease productivity, but it can make it difficult to process new information.
Despite these high stakes, there’s a pretty good chance you aren’t clocking the recommended hours. We get it: when your schedule get packed, getting a full eight hours a night can feel like an impossibility.
That said, there are a few things you can do to make your time in bed count more. Here are 10 hacks for making sure you get the most out of your shut-eye.
Drink milk taken from cows at night.
This sounds like a joke, but it’s for real. New research shows milk taken from cows at night contains higher levels of tryptophan, a compound that induces sleep, and nearly 10 times as much melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate the circadian rhythm. Both should help you drift into dreamland.
Use warm light in the evening and bright light in the morning.
The amount and type of light in your environment helps inform how much melatonin your body produces. Because melatonin, a hormone secreted by the pineal gland, helps regulate sleep-wake cycles, light exposure throughout the day can impact how well you sleep at night.
To support the production of melatonin and corresponding natural circadian rhythms, try General Electric’s C Sleep Smart Bulbs. These LED smart light bulbs, which can be controlled through an app on your smartphone, have three settings: morning, mid-day and night. The warmer evening light signals to your body it’s time to start producing melatonin, whereas the morning setting emits a brighter, blue light that tells your body that it should begin suppressing the production of melatonin.
Eat foods that contain melatonin.
Another easy way to encourage drowsiness before bed is to eat foods rich in the hormone. White and black mustard, almonds, sunflower seeds, cherries and flax seeds are all rich in melatonin. And while they don’t boast as high a percentage, oats, barley, bananas, ginger and tomatoes also contain the hormone.
Sleep in multiples of 90 minutes.
A typical sleep cycle lasts for about an hour and a half. If you wake up in the middle of of sleep cycle, you are more likely to feel groggy. If you don’t trust your math, the SleepyTime smartphone app and web application can help you figure out the optimal time for you to go to sleep based on what time you are going to have to wake up.
Work out. (During the day, of course.)
Setting yourself up for a good, restorative sleep starts during the day. If you exercise, you will likely have an easier time falling asleep. And you don’t need to be training for a marathon to get better rest, either. Brisk walking or resistance training is enough to noticeably improve your sleep at night, according to research from the Stanford University School of Medicine.
Put your phone down.
If you wake up in the middle of the night, suppress the urge to check your phone, tablet or laptop. Studies have shown the blue light emitted by these devices delay or suppress the production of melatonin, making it harder to fall back asleep.
Listen to sounds of waves crashing.
If you don’t live near the beach, fret not. It’s easy to generate fake ocean sounds (plus a number of other ambient noises) via sound machines or sound machine apps. If you’re struggling to fall or stay asleep, this could be a good solution. The presence of white noise has been shown to help people with “disturbed sleep” sleep more soundly.
Write down all of your worries before you go to sleep.
Obsessing over your problems makes it very hard to get to sleep. To keep anxious thoughts at bay as you try to drift off, set aside time earlier in the evening to write down what you are anxious about and how you plan to address the issue.
By doing so, “there is less likelihood of becoming overwhelmed/anxious and greater probability of successfully dealing with sleep-disruptive topics,” write Colleen Carney from the Ryerson University in Toronto and Jack Edinger from the Duke University Medical Center in a study that examines the link between insomnia and anxiety.
To be sure, not all worries have a concrete, direct or discernable solution. In those cases, try to find someone in your life who can serve as a sounding board and help bring some clarity to the situation.
Add getting a good night’s sleep to the long list of reasons to stop smoking. Cigarette smokers are four times more likely as nonsmokers to report feeling tired, according to research from the American College of Chest Physicians. This may be because smokers experience feelings of withdrawal when they are trying to sleep at night.
“The long-term effects of smoking on respiratory and cardiovascular health are well-known,” Dr. Alvin V. Thomas, president of the ACCP, said in a statement. “However, this study is significant because it suggests that smokers may also be deprived of the much-needed restorative effects of sleep. This study provides yet one more reason to stop smoking or to never start.” Amen.
Keep your sleep schedule consistent.
The more regular you can keep your sleep schedule, the better your sleep is likely to be. If you get up early during the week, try to avoid sleeping in on the weekends. While it may feel awesome at the time, the discrepancy will mess with your sleep cycle, making it harder to get a good night’s rest come Monday.
In a similar vein, while naps feel good, they can also throw off your sleep schedule, particularly if you take them in the afternoon or evening.
Stress Literally Shrinks Your Brain. Here Are 7 Ways To Reverse This Effect.
We all know that living under stressful conditions has serious emotional, even physical, consequences. So why do we have so much trouble taking action to reduce our stress levels and improve our lives?
Researchers at Yale University finally have the answer. They found that stress reduces the volume of grey matter in the areas of the brain responsible for self-control.
So experiencing stress actually makes it more difficult to deal with future stress because it diminishes your ability to take control of the situation, manage your stress and keep things from getting out of control.
A vicious cycle if there ever was one.
But don’t be disheartened. It’s not impossible to reduce your stress levels; you just need to make managing stress a higher priority if you want to reverse this effect. The sooner you start managing your stress effectively, the easier it will be to keep unexpected stress from causing damage in the future.
Luckily, the plasticity of the brain allows it to mold, change, and rebuild damaged areas as you practice new behaviors. So implementing healthy stress-relieving techniques can train your brain to handle stress more effectively and decrease the likelihood of ill effects from stress in the future.
Here are seven strategies to help you fix your brain and keep your stress under control:
1. Say No
Research conducted at the University of California, San Francisco, shows that the more difficulty that you have saying no, the more likely you are to experience stress, burnout, and even depression. Saying no is indeed a major challenge for many people. “No” is a powerful word that you should not be afraid to wield. When it’s time to say no, avoid phrases such as “I don’t think I can” or “I’m not certain.” Saying no to a new commitment honors your existing commitments and gives you the opportunity to successfully fulfill them.
Technology enables constant communication and the expectation that you should be available 24/7. It is extremely difficult to enjoy a stress-free moment outside of work when an email that will change your train of thought and get you thinking (read: stressing) about work can drop onto your phone at any moment.
Taking regular time off the grid helps you to keep your stress under control and to live in the moment. When you make yourself available to your work 24/7, you expose yourself to a constant barrage of stressors. Forcing yourself offline and even—gulp!—turning off your phone gives your body and mind a break. Studies have shown that something as simple as a weekend e-mail break can lower stress levels.
If detaching yourself from work-related communication on weekday evenings is too big a challenge, then how about the weekend? Choose blocks of time where you will cut the cord and go offline. You’ll be amazed by how refreshing these breaks are and how they reduce stress by putting a mental recharge into your weekly schedule.
If you are worried about the negative repercussions of taking this step, try first doing it at times you are unlikely to be contacted—maybe Sunday morning. As you grow more comfortable with this, and as your coworkers begin to accept the time you spend offline, gradually expand the amount of time you spend away from technology.
3. Neutralize toxic people
Dealing with difficult people is frustrating, exhausting, and highly stressful for most. You can control your interactions with toxic people by keeping your feelings in check. When you need to confront a toxic person, approach the situation rationally. Identify your own emotions and don’t allow anger or frustration to fuel the chaos. Also, consider the difficult person’s standpoint and perspective so that you can find solutions and common ground. Even when things completely derail, you can take the toxic person with a grain of salt to avoid letting him or her bring you down.
4. Don’t hold grudges
The negative emotions that come with holding onto a grudge are actually a stress response. Just thinking about the event sends your body into fight-or-flight mode, a survival mechanism that forces you to stand up and fight or run for the hills when faced with a threat. When the threat is imminent, this reaction is essential to your survival, but when the threat is ancient history, holding onto that stress wreaks havoc on your body and can have devastating health consequences over time. In fact, researchers at Emory University have shown that holding onto stress contributes to high blood pressure and heart disease. Holding onto a grudge means you’re holding onto stress, and emotionally intelligent people know to avoid this at all costs. Letting go of a grudge not only makes you feel better now but can also improve your health.
5. Practice mindfulness
Mindfulness is a simple, research-supported form of meditation that is an effective way to gain control of unruly thoughts and behaviors. People who practice mindfulness regularly are more focused, even when they are not meditating. It is an excellent technique to help reduce stress because it allows you to reduce the feeling of being out of control. Essentially, mindfulness helps you stop jumping from one thought to the next, which keeps you from ruminating on negative thoughts. Overall, it’s a great way to make it through your busy day in a calm and productive manner.
6. Put things in perspective
Our worries often come from our own skewed perception of events. So before you spend too much time dwelling on what your boss said during the last staff meeting, take a minute to put the situation in perspective. If you aren’t sure when you need to do this, try looking for clues that your anxiety may not be proportional to the stressor. If you are thinking in broad sweeping statements like “Everything is going wrong” or “Nothing will work out” then you need to reframe the situation. A great way to correct this unproductive thought pattern is to list the specific things that actually are going wrong or not working out. Most likely you will come up with just one or two things—not everything. The key to keeping your cool is to remember that your feelings are exaggerating the situation and the scope of the stressor is much more limited than it might appear.
7. Use your support system
It’s tempting, yet entirely ineffective, to attempt tackling everything by yourself. To be calm and productive you need to recognize your weaknesses and ask for help when you need it. This means tapping into your support system when a situation is challenging enough for you to feel overwhelmed.
Everyone has someone at work and/or outside work who is on their team, rooting for them, and ready to help them get the best from a difficult situation. Identify these individuals in your life and make an effort to seek their insights and assistance when you need it. Something as simple as talking about your worries will provide an outlet for your anxiety and stress and supply you with a new perspective on the situation. Most of the time, other people can see a solution that you can’t because they are not as emotionally invested in the situation. Asking for help will mitigate your anxiety and strengthen your relationships with those you rely upon.
Bringing it all together
As simple as these strategies may seem, they are difficult to implement when your mind is clouded with stress. Force yourself to attempt them the next time your head is spinning, and you’ll reap the benefits that come with disciplined stress management.
First paralysed person to be 'reanimated' offers neuroscience insights
15 Reasons You Should Be Drinking Lemon Water Every Morning
If you are looking for an easy trick to improve your life and overall health, than look no further. Drinking lemon water first thing in the morning is a pretty simple routine to get into and will have tremendous effects on your overall health.
Since I started this simple and surprisingly healthy habit a few years ago, I definitely noticed the difference. Not only does the refreshing taste wake me up in the morning, it helps to kick start digestion and finalizes my body’s natural detoxification processes… And lemons are packed with vitamin C, B, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, enzymes, antioxidants, and fibers.
According to the Ayurvedic philosophy, choices you make regarding your daily routine either build up resistance to diseases or tear it down.
So what are you waiting for to jump start your day with this incredible easy morning routine. Its benefits are endless and I listed the 15 most important ones for you in this article.
1. Improves Digestion
Lemon juice has a similar structure to your stomach’s juices and helps to loosen and flush out toxins from the digestive tract. Lemon juice can help ease indigestion, heartburn, and bloating. It also helps to move your bowels in the morning, hydrates your colon, stimulate bile production, and infuses water in your stool.
2. Boost Immune System.
Lemon juice is rich in vitamin C, which helps strengthen the immunes system and fights cold and flu. But not only vitamin C is important for a good working immune system, iron is another important nutrient, and lemons improve the ability to absorb more iron from the food you eat.
3. Hydrates Your Body
It is important to stay hydrated. Especially during the summer months. Plain water is best, but many people find this boring and are not drinking enough of it. That’s where lemon comes into play to make things more interesting. So feel free to not only start your day with lemon water, but drink as many glasses as you wish during the day to stay hydrated.
4. Boost Energy
Lemon water gives you an instant boost of energy and improves your mood right at the start of your day.
5. Promote Healthy And Rejuvenated Skin
Lemons are a rich sources of antioxidants that prevent free radical damage. These free radicals are responsible for pre-mature aging of your skin. Vitamin C helps to maintain your skin’s elasticity to prevent the formation of wrinkles and decrease blemishes.
6. Reduce Inflammation
Lemons have the ability to remove uric acid from your joints. Uric acid built-ups are one of the major causes of inflammation.
7. Weight Loss Aid
Although lemon water on its own is no weight loss miracle, it can definitely help you to achieve faster and long term results. Lemons assist in fighting hunger cravings, boost metabolism, and give you a stuffed feeling, making it less likely to snack in between meals.
8. Alkalize Your Body
Although lemons have a sour taste, they are one of the most alkalizing food sources on Earth. Too much acids can cause inflammation, obesity, and major diseases like cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s.
9. Cleansing Properties
Lemons help your entire body to flush out more toxins to prevent built-ups and damage to your cells, tissues, and organs. It stimulates your liver to produce more enzymes and work more efficiently. Lemon juice works as a diuretic to keep your urinary tract toxin-free and can also change the pH levels which discourage bacterial growth. This is very helpful for people who often suffer from UTI (urinary tract infection). And like mentioned before, lemons loosen and flush out waste from your digestive tract and cleanse your colon.
10.Antibacterial and Antiviral Properties
Lemons have antibacterial and antiviral properties. They help fight the flu, cold, and soothe a sore throat. Although people who drink their daily lemon water every day are less likely to get these in the first place.
11.Reduce Mucus And Phlegm
Lemon water helps to reduce mucus and phlegm formation. People who drink cow’s milk are often more sensitive for mucus production. So starting your day with lemon water can definitely help to lessen mucus if you’re not ready to go dairy-free.
Lemons freshen your breath and fight mouth bacteria. Although lemons are great for your overall oral health, avoid drinking or using it undiluted. The citric acid can erode tooth enamel, so don’t brush your teeth with it, but have a glass of lemon water instead.
13.Boost Brain Power
The high levels of potassium and magnesium show beneficial effects on our brain and nerve health. Lemon water can give you the boost you need to fight depression and stress. It creates mental clarity and more focus, making it a great drink for students or people with busy and stressful jobs.
Lemon’s antioxidants not only protect your skin from ageing, but also reduce the risk of several types of cancer. They are great in neutralizing acids as well. Cancer loves to grow in an acidic environment. Alkalizing your body may stop cancer cells to grow and may reduce the risk of getting cancer in the first place.
15.Get Of Caffeine
Many people are able to get off caffeine by replacing their morning coffee by lukewarm lemon water. It gives a similar energy boost to wake your body and boost energy as one cup of coffee would.
How To Make Lemon Water
Making lemon water is super simple. It takes less than 5 minutes of your precious morning time. Just squeeze half a lemon in lukewarm water. If you weigh more than 150 pounds, use a whole lemon.
Why use lukewarm (or room temperature) instead of cold or hot water to make this healing morning drink? Well, hot or cold water takes more energy to process, so your first glass in the morning should be lukewarm or at room temperature to slowly wake your body and kick start digestion.
If you love the taste feel free to add more lemon water to your diet during the rest of the day, cold or hot. It adds up to your daily water need, is less boring than plain water, and adds tons of benefits for body and mind.
Using Meditation for Chronic Pain Relief
“Imagine standing by a fountain in a beautiful garden on a warm summer day.”
The female voice is both soothing and alluring, as she invites you into a garden and guides you toward a hammock. "It is peaceful and safe. And no one expects anything from you here,” she says. “Here you can escape from the troubles of daily life.”
The birds are chirping. The fountain is gurgling. You close your eyes and relax.
And your pain disappears.
That’s the goal of a meditation program created by Wellmind Media, a UK company that specializes in online courses for managing pain, stress, anxiety and depression.
The 21-minute pain management course hosted at Meditainment.com takes you into a “secret garden” of your own imagination, designed to help your pain seem less important. Tens of thousands of people have visited the site for pain relief.
““I was able to drift away and place myself somewhere else besides in my chair. I didn't think about the pain,” said Taber Fellows in an online post.
“Amazing! Way better than painkillers,” wrote Holly Maslen.
“Been fighting a migraine all day, and this helped tone it down to a more bearable level. Will check out the other meditations as well, thank you,” said Kristi Morningstar.
In all, Meditainment offers 18 different online courses (including one to help you sleep) that can take you anywhere from an island paradise to a mountain refuge to an arctic igloo – all without getting out of your chair. The first two courses you watch are free, but gaining access to the other 16 will cost you $15.
“When meditation is used as a form of relaxation when in pain, it can be of great benefit, reducing the fear aspect and emotional responses of experiencing pain as well as changing the contextual evaluation of stimuli, and sensory events,” said Rebecca Millard, Project Manager at Wellmind Media.
“Although we haven’t conducted any scientific research into this ourselves, there is increasing evidence to support meditation for the relief of pain. For us, the testimonials and comments on the pain management meditation speak for themselves.”
Online meditation and “mindfulness” cognitive therapy have been available for several years, and there is increasing evidence showing that they are effective in treating a broad range of mental health issues, including anxiety, depression and stress.
“Mindfulness is about paying attention to the present moment, non-judgmentally, with a gentle curiosity. It’s an awareness that emerges from paying attention on purpose to the present moment. It’s a mind-body approach, which involves paying attention to thoughts, feelings and body sensations,” said Millard in an email to Pain News Network.
“If we have more awareness and understanding of ourselves we can use this as a tool for pain management. Stress is linked to pain and too often pain is seen as something that the body experiences rather than linked to the mind.”
One study, published in the British Medical Journal, found that online mindfulness courses were often just as effective as face-to-face meetings with a therapist.
“The people choosing to use the course in this mode of delivery appear to be finding it helpful,” the study concluded. “That the levels of negative emotion reduced significantly on completion of the online mindfulness course and further decreased at 1 month follow-up is suggestive of significant improvements.”
You can try an online mindfulness course by visiting Be Mindful Online. The mindful and meditation programs mentioned in this story are offered by the UK National Health Service, but are available to anyone around the world.
7 Surprising Causes Of Back Pain
If it seems like everyone you know, including yourself, has back pain, you actually might be close to the truth.
“If you go on the street and pick a random group of people, 20 percent will say they have back pain right now, 40 percent will have had it in the past year, and 80 percent have had back pain over the course of their lives,” says Patrick Roth, M.D., chairman of the department of neurosurgery at New Jersey’s Hackensack University Medical Center and author of The End of Back Pain. That’s a lot of back pain.
The cause of all the discomfort? For people over 60, back pain often comes from spinal stenosis, or arthritic wear and tear. “As we age, the joints become enlarged and generate pain,” says Dr. Roth. But that’s not always the case. In many instances, the cause of back pain isn’t as clear.
One thing is for sure, there are certain things, like improperly lifting a heavy object, that can throw your back off and create pain. Here, seven other things that you might not know cause pain, but should be mindful of :
Smoking can affect back pain in two ways. “Smoking has been show to decrease blood supply to the discs in the back, causing premature aging of discs,” says Vijay Vad, M.D., an assistant attending physiatrist at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. That premature aging of the discs can cause pain in the lower back, according to the study, which was conducted at John’s Hopkins University. Another study from theNorthwestern University School of Medicine found a different smoking-back pain connection. According to that study, smoking affects the way the brain responds to back pain and makes people less resilient to it.
“There’s no question that sitting puts pressure on the discs in your back,” says Dr Roth. “The pressure decreases blood supply to the discs and increases the risk of disc injury,” agrees Dr. Vad. If you’re someone who sits at a desk all day, consider using a standing desk to alleviate the pressure on your back, or take breaks every 30 minutes or so to stretch and walk around. Walking can flush toxins and “brings nutrition to the discs,” says Dr. Vad.
“The lower back is the ultimate example of the mind-body connection,” says Dr. Vad. Stress can tighten your muscles and cause discs to bulge, creating pain. It can also lower your threshold for pain. “It literally stiffens you,” says Dr. Roth. Manage your stress with exercise, meditation, and deep breathing.
4. Flying on a plane
The next time you fly, consider checking your heavy luggage instead of storing it overhead. “The pressurized air in the cabin can irritate a disc and make it vulnerable to bulging,” says Dr. Vad. “So be careful lifting heavy luggage or heavy weights or doing vigorous sports right after a long flight.” He suggests stretching and walking right after a flight to help minimize the risk of disc bulge.
It stands to reason that being overweight can put more pressure on your back and make you more susceptible to back pain. Onestudy from Stanford Universityfound that people who are extremely overweight are at four times greater risk of having lower back pain. The study also found that doing just 20 minutes of exercise a day can reduce the risk of back pain by 32 percent.
Another part of your diet to pay attention to, according to Dr. Vad? Sugar. “Processed sugars can spike inflammation in the body and cause back pain,” says Dr. Vad. So consider cutting back on big sugar offenders like cookies, doughnuts, cake, and other sweets.
6. Your mattress
If you’re constantly waking up with back pain, it might be that your mattress is too soft. “A medium-firm mattress is ideal for your back,” says Dr. Vad. With a soft mattress, the weight on your back can be uneven and cause you pain.
7. Talking on a cell phone
Talking on your cell phone, especially if you use your shoulder to balance it at your ear, can create uneven pressure, causing neck pain. And that neck pain can extend to your back. Also be mindful if you text a lot—you’re potentially straining your neck by looking down repeatedly. Opt for earphones when you talk on your cell, and cut down on texting or try to hold your phone in front of you when texting to reduce the strain on your neck.
If you do have back pain...
Though doctors used to recommend bedrest to help back pain, the thinking has changed. “There’s no doubt that returning to activity as best you can is the best thing for back pain,” says Dr. Roth. “Movement actually makes pain better.” He also recommends doing exercise as well as you can, then when the pain has passed, strengthening your core and abdominal muscles, which help keep your back strong.
As for the best way to lift heavy objects? “You want to do a hip hinge rather than bend from the back,” says Dr. Roth. Keep your knees slightly bent and your back locked. “Olympic weightlifters are the least likely to have back problems because they are so meticulous about their form,” he says. And keep in mind that you should use that technique no matter what you’re picking up. “Many problems happen not when you’re lifting the fridge, but when you’re picking up a piece of paper on the floor and not paying attention,” he says.
4 Simple Juice Recipe That Safely Silence Chronic Pain
Chronic pain is a blanket term used to describe pain that persists three to six months after recovery from the initial pain-causing health condition. Chronic pain affects 116 million American adults. That’s more than 1/3 of the US population. And by using pain killer, they can be addictive and produce side effects.
Juicing can be a powerful way to combat the chronic pain caused by any conditions. A variety of delicious juice recipes are available to help you manage your pain.
4 Simple Juice Recipe That Safely Silence Chronic Pain
- 1 bunch of organic celery
- 1 English cucumber, peeled if not organic
- 1 inch piece of ginger root
- 1.5 inches of turmeric root (or three smaller root sections)
- 3 organic carrots
- 2 cups of freshly chopped pineapple
Wash, prep and chop all of your ingredients. Process through your juicer. Drink immediately or store in an airtight container such as a mason jar for no more than 48 hours before drinking. Enjoy!
Peaches & pineapple chunks
- 2 peaches, pitted
- 2 pears, cored
- 2 cups pineapple chunks
Process ingredients in a juicer Make sure ingredients are organic Drink once a day and enjoy!
Cucumber & kale juice
- 1 Cucumber
- 3 Celery stalk
- 4 Kale leaves
- handful of Spinach
- 2-3 Granny Smith Apples
- knob Ginger
- 1cm turmeric & 1/2 Lemon
Wash, prep and chop all of your ingredients. Process through your juicer. Drink immediately or store in an airtight container such as a mason jar for no more than 48 hours before drinking. Enjoy!
Lemon Spinach Juice
- 2 Granny Smith apples
- 1/4 lemon
- 1/2 inch or a little more of fresh ginger
- 1/2 inch or a little more of fresh turmeric root
- 1/2 bunch green, leafy kale
- 2 cups spinach
- 5 stalks celery
Process all ingredients through a blender and drink immediately so that none of the vital nutrients are lost.
WRIST PAIN IN GYMNASTICS: HOW DOES THIS INJURY OCCUR?
Wrist pain is a very common issue in gymnastics due to the nature of the sport. With the high frequency and force production that a gymnast experiences can place excessive stress on the wrist joint during weight bearing skills, which include by are not limited to handstands, tumbling, vaulting and single hand transitions on the uneven bars. Some research suggests that forces up to 2.5 times an athlete’s body weight can be loaded through the wrist during some gymnastics skills, and up to 5x during heavy tumbling and vaulting. These numbers are most likely to dramatically increase if a gymnast performs “short” tumbling with shallow joint angles or during uneven weight bearing that may occur during skills.
Overuse stress forces
As gymnasts, many athletes simply know how to “push through the pain” not fully understanding the consequences that may develop further down the road. If the issue is left unaddressed, the overuse stress forces may progress into a variety of problems like tendonitis, bone bruising, ligament damage, growth plate irritation, scar tissue build up, and possible stress fractures.
Overall, the structures of the wrist and hand are not designed for heavy weight-bearing, like the ankle joint is, which in turn compromises the internal joint stability during excessively high forces. Further understanding the concepts as to why a gymnast may develop wrist pain, in addition to several techniques to help an athlete possibly manage their problems, are described below:
A huge contributor to wrist pain is the functional ability of the structures and joints above the wrist. These include the elbow, shoulder, scapulae (shoulder blade) and thoracic spine (upper to mid back region), as well as the adjacent muscles surrounding these areas. Problems can arise if there is a lack of mobility and poor arm alignment, static stability (e.g. handstand) or dynamic stability (e.g. handsprings and other movement skills). When the alignment of the entire chain is not functioning properly, the small stabilizing muscles are not able to do their job causing unnecessary compression stress and instability within subsequent joints.
Muscle tightness & restricted mobility
Muscle tightness and restricted mobility within the arm, shoulder and spine can additionally be considered as a possible cause to wrist pain. The chain of muscles in front of the arm connects to muscles in the chest and the back such as the pecs, lats, biceps and forearm flexors – all contributing to wrist range of motion. These structures are linked through a fascial layer that can create tightness throughout the whole assembly. In the majority of cases, there are two limiting factors to the ability to move into excessive wrist extension: tightness in (1) forearm flexors muscles – front part of the arm; and (2) latissimus dorsi muscles – back muscles.
Range of motion
Another contributing factor to the development of wrist pain in a gymnast is their available range of motion in the wrist – how far the wrist can move into extension (bend backwards) comfortably. In normal motion, the wrist joint usually permits about 70 degrees of extension for everyday use. Gymnast often develop hyper mobility in the wrist joint, attaining about 80 degrees of motion comfortably. However, when the athlete is in a handstand or performing a skill, the force goes far beyond the 80 degrees, often up to 90 -95+ degrees. If the gymnast lacks the ability to move their wrist joint into hyperextension, the joint will push past its limitations leading to pain symptoms.
Use of wrist guards
A common use of protection against wrist pain is wearing wrist guards to limit the hyperextension motion during gymnastics-specific weight bearing skills. More often than not, an athlete who has discomfort in their wrist will most likely have poor joint mobility and flexibility throughout their upper body. Wrist guards are used for wrist joint protection against the high weight bearing forces, however they do not make a gymnast more flexible elsewhere. They may be worn to limit pain symptoms, but the gymnast needs to address the leading causing and/or combination of causes to their wrist pain. Becoming dependent on wrist guards all the time tends to limit the strength development in the wrist flexor and extensor muscles – affecting joint stability and grip strength.
The Top 10 Cleansing Foods
Fruits, vegetables, seeds and all the nutrient-dense plant-based foods that spring from the earth give our body a gentle nudge to do its best work. Our organs are working around the clock to fight free radicals, and our cells are constantly rejuvenating themselves to keep our bodies in tip-top shape. Among the plant-based superheroes, there are a few with a little extra cleansing power. Here are 10 foods you should incorporate into your diet to support your body’s natural cleansing cycle.
Beets are a high-antioxidant root vegetable with plenty of nutrients to support your body’s detoxification process. Among these is betaine, a nutrient that helps the liver eliminate toxins. Beets are also a good source of fiber, specifically pectin, which binds to heavy metals in our gut, preventing our bodies from absorbing them. Beets can be eaten both cooked and raw, and you can use the leafy green tops too, so don’t throw them away. Try adding beets into you next juice or smoothie for a surprisingly colorful and delicious cleansing boost.
Dandelions are a powerhouse food, full of phytonutrients essential for detoxification. Dandelion has been used for hundreds of years to gently stimulate the liver and support healthy kidney function. Our kidneys help to filter waste from our bodies, making this little weed valuable. Dandelion can be consumed as a dandelion root tea or capsule. Or it can be eaten by sauteing the dandelion greens with a little garlic and sea salt.
OK, this may seem like an obvious one, but nearly half of us aren’t drinking enough of it. A survey in the 2013 issue of Preventing Chronic Disease found that 43 percent of Americans drink less than four cups of water a day. Water is essential for moving waste through our GI tract, allowing the rest of our organs — liver and kidneys — to do their job. So drink up! While everyone’s needs are different, the rule of thumb is eight cups a day. But you may need more or less, depending on your activity level.
Probiotics, both in supplement and food form, contain powerful and beneficial bacteria that help balance your gut flora to ensure a healthy digestive ecosystem. Beyond supplements, fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi and kombucha contain probiotic superpowers. Experiment with these foods for a daily dose of good gut health.
Artichokes, an edible flower bud, contain cynarin, a compound that stimulates the liver and gallbladder — key organs in aiding your body’s detoxification process. They’re also a prebiotic, which means they are a food source for probiotics — the healthy bacteria in our guts — which help keep our digestion running smoothly. Artichokes are naturally low in calories (at 64 apiece) and are rich in fiber (seven substantial grams per choke).
6. Lemons and Grapefruits
Incorporating a half of a grapefruit or a morning mug of warm lemon water or a into your routine promotes a more balanced internal pH. While most people assume that lemons and grapefruits are acidic, they’re actually incredibly alkalizing, and alkaline foods have an incredible effect on detoxifying the liver. Like beets, lemons and grapefruits are also a source of pectin. To round them out, these citrus fruits are also high in vitamin C, a key vitamin that promotes healthy liver function.
Wheatgrass, like lemon juice, helps restore your body’s alkalinity. Its alkaline qualities help reduce acidity in the blood, making it a powerful detoxifier and liver protector. It’s also loaded with vitamins C and A, calcium and iron. So embrace your inner wellness and down a few shots of wheatgrass — or add it to a smoothie.
Garlic is a detoxification superfood with two major functions. The first is to support your body’s liver enzymes, which are critical for the natural detoxification process. And the second is to provide an affective broad spectrum of antimicrobial and antifungal properties. Aside from adding natural flavor to any dish, it’s also a prebiotic, which nourishes probiotics, allowing them to do their gut-cleaning work.
Chia seeds are powerful little gems packed with fiber and healthy omega-3 fatty acids. When they get wet, they go from a crunchy to pudding-like. When digested, this fiber-filled food cleanses your insides by collecting toxins on their way out. Chia seeds are versatile and can easily be added to smoothies, salads and even as a vegan egg replacement in baked goods.
10. Leafy Greens
These bright, fiber-dense plants are great for sweeping the gut clean. And they’re loaded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that can protect our bodies from the toxins we’re regularly exposed to. So don’t hang that kale out to dry just yet — for now it’s definitely still here to stay.
Slow Down Anxiety Attacks with Acupressure for Anxiety
Anxiety attacks are never a good thing and this is why you should practice acupressure for anxiety if you’re suffering from regular attacks. It’s also a good idea to do this as a preventive measure. This applies if you’re suffering from regular bouts of nervousness. Don’t wait until you’re having an anxiety attack to practice acupressure to relieve your anxiety.
Why it Works
This alternative medicine technique is very calming and relaxing. Everyone can benefit from being calmer and more relaxed. Since this is a relatively safe practice, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t give it a try. This is especially true if you’re suffering from regular bouts of nervousness and anxiety.
How it Works
There’s nothing special that you have to do if you’re already familiar with acupressure in general. Just in case you don’t know, this alternative medicine technique is all about putting pressure on the right pressure points, in fact it’s could help with weight loss also. There are specific pressure points that you have to press to use acupressure for anxiety. Putting the right amount of pressure on the right pressure points will introduce calmness and relaxation to your body which can help prevent and cure anxiety attacks.
Pressure Points that You Need to Press
- Heavenly Pillar
- Heavenly Rejuvenation
- Crooked Marsh
- Inner Gate
- Spirit Gate
- Third Eye Point
- Sea of Tranquility
Look for muscles that feel like rope about half an inch below your skull’s base. It should also be about half an inch outside of your spine. This is found on either side. In addition to relieving stress, this is a good and effective point for acupressure for anxiety.
This point is found on your shoulders. It’s right in the middle of your neck’s base and the outside point of your shoulder. This is also found on either side.
This is the area opposite your elbow. It’s where the crease is when you bend your arm. This is found on both arms.
This point is found on the forearm. It’s found on the inside of the forearm, about half an inch from the crease of your wrist. This is also found on both arms.
This point is found on the crease of the wrist on the side of your pinky finger. This is found on both hands.
This point is found right in the middle of your eyebrows. It’s the indented part in between your nose’s bridge and your forehead. This is an important point in acupressure for anxiety.
Look for the base of your breastbone. Go up about a couple of inches. This is an important point if your anxiety attack is causing tension in your chest.
Important Things to Consider
You can apply pressure on these points yourself. This is important if you’re alone when having an anxiety attack. You can do this regularly for preventive measures and to help you be more calm and relaxed.
You don’t need to apply pressure on all points. Just apply pressure one by one until you feel better. You can try these acupressure for anxiety tips now to experience instant relaxation. Alternatively you could also try remedy for sleepless night as well as headaches.
Natural Cures for Carpal Tunnel
Carpal tunnel is inflammation of a very small opening just below the base of the wrist. The carpal tunnel holds the median nerve that connects the forearm to the palm and fingers.
The tunnel is very small and prone to swelling and inflammation caused by overuse, hormonal changes, or arthritis. It can be either mild tingling or crippling pain. It is seen in people who do repetitive hand motions for work or who work on computers.
The most common causes of carpal tunnel include: poor posture, excess typing at computer, and working with wrists extended.
Top Foods for Carpal Tunnel
Whole fruits and vegetables – Your body needs nutrients from fruit and vegetables to help fight inflammation and heal. Also, consuming foods rich in potassium can flush excess fluid from areas.
Water – 8 oz of water every 2 hours can help decrease fluid retention and relieve pain .
Flax or chia seeds – Increasing omega-3 intake can help reduce inflammation.
Foods high in B6 – Vitamin B6 deficiency can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome so make sure to include green leafy vegetables, beans, or wild meats in your diet.
Green drinks – Any green drink that includes a variety of highly nutritious grasses and sea vegetables can help reduce inflammation.
Carpal Tunnel Foods to Avoid
Sugar – Increases inflammation that can increase pain.
Sodium – Fluid retention increases swelling so limit your sodium intake.
Foods high in saturated fat – Avoid saturated fat from sources such as bacon, sausage, cheese, or other high fat processed meats, as saturated fat can slow circulation.
Alcohol – Will increase systemic inflammation and can reduce the amount of B vitamins in the body, critical for healing.
Processed grains, especially gluten – Grains can increase inflammation making pain worse.
Top 5 Natural Cures for Carpal Tunnel
#1 Vitamin B6 (100 mg 3x daily) Vitamin B6 reduces nerve inflammation.
#2 Bromelain (500 mg 3x between meals) An enzyme found in pineapple, has a natural anti-inflammatory effect.
#3 Magnesium complex (500 mg calcium, 250 mg of magnesium) Magnesium and calcium help reduce muscle tension.
#4 Ginkgo biloba (120 mg 2x daily) This herb helps improve circulation.
#5 Essential Oils: Arnica and Wintergreen Can be rubbed over the area to reduce inflammation and pain.
Having proper workplace posture and ergonomics is vitally important to reducing carpal tunnel symptoms. Keep your computer at eye level and arms parallel with desk not extending wrists too much. Also, chiropractic care can be an effective treatment for carpal tunnel removing stress on nerves.
Essential Oils for Carpal Tunnel
In healing carpal tunnel with essential oils cypress works by improving circulation and helichrysum helps repair damaged nerve tissue. Also, peppermint can reduce pain and frankincense can decrease inflammation. Apply essential oils topically 3 drops 3x daily.
What is Chronic Pain & what are the symptoms?
What Is Chronic Pain?
About 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain, defined as pain that lasts longer than six months. Chronic pain can be mild or excruciating, episodic or continuous, merely inconvenient or totally incapacitating.
With chronic pain, signals of pain remain active in the nervous system for months or even years. This can take both a physical and emotional toll on a person.
The most common sources of pain stem from headaches, joint pain, pain from injury, and backaches. Other kinds of chronic pain include tendinitis, sinus pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and pain affecting specific parts of the body, such as the shoulders, pelvis, and neck. Generalized muscle or nerve pain can also develop into a chronic condition.
Chronic pain may originate with an initial trauma/injury or infection, or there may be an ongoing cause of pain. Some people suffer chronic pain in the absence of any past injury or evidence of body damage.
The emotional toll of chronic pain also can make pain worse. Anxiety, stress, depression, anger, and fatigue interact in complex ways with chronic pain and may decrease the body's production of natural painkillers; moreover, such negative feelings may increase the level of substances that amplify sensations of pain, causing a vicious cycle of pain for the person. Even the body's most basic defenses may be compromised: There is considerable evidence that unrelenting pain can suppress the immune system.
Because of the mind-body links associated with chronic pain, effective treatment requires addressing psychological as well as physical aspects of the condition.
What Are the Symptoms of Chronic Pain?
The symptoms of chronic pain include:
- Mild to severe pain that does not go away
- Pain that may be described as shooting, burning, aching, or electrical
- Feeling of discomfort, soreness, tightness, or stiffness
Pain is not a symptom that exists alone. Other problems associated with pain can include:
- Withdrawal from activity and increased need to rest
- Weakened immune system
- Changes in mood including hopelessness, fear, depression, irritability, anxiety, and stress
6 Ways To Ease Your Foot Pain While Watching TV
Your feet are aching after a long day, but you can't seem to talk anyone into giving you a massage? That's just not right. So take matters into your own hands. There are plenty of quick and easy stretches and exercises that can relieve foot pain.
In fact, you don't need to even get up from the couch. Consider doing the following moves while catching up on your favorite sitcom.
1. Soak your feet.
Treat yourself to a footbath at the end of the day. The warmth relaxes all of the muscles in your feet. Soak your feet in warm water for 10 to 15 minutes. For an extra benefit, add a handful of Epsom salts. They're anti-fungal and bacterial, so it can fend off foot odor.
2. Roll it out.
One of the most common causes of those aches is a tight plantar fascia, the tendon that runs along the arch from the toes to the heel. When it becomes inflamed, that causes plantar fasciitis. To loosen that tendon, roll a tennis ball up and down the bottom of your foot.
3. Put it on ice.
You can accomplish the same rolling benefit while icing your foot by using a frozen water bottle covered with a towel or washcloth—or try freezing water in a small Dixie cup. The cold can relieve some of the inflammation.
4. Give yourself a massage.
Rubbing your feet can work out any tightness while encouraging blood flow to the foot. To massage your feet, add a little lotion. Using your thumb on top of your foot and your index finger on the bottom, rub your feet in a clockwise circles as you work from the toes to your heel and ankle. Now go counter-clockwise, and work your way back to your toes.
5. Stretch your ankles.
Move one ankle in a clockwise circle 10 times, and then reverse the direction. Switch sides. Then point and flex each foot 10 times. These moves not only loosen up your ankles but strengthen the muscles in the joint.
6. Towel stretch.
While seated, prop a foot up onto a coffee table or ottoman in front of you so your leg is straight. Loop a towel or tee shirt around the ball of your foot, holding onto each end with your hands. Gently pull it towards you to stretch your calf and the bottom of your foot. Hold 15 seconds, then release; switch legs.
5 Drug-Free Alternatives to Treating Back Pain
There are about 30 bones in the back, so it’s no wonder that things go wrong every now and then. In fact, back pain is cited as the top reason employees miss work and the second-most common reason for visits to the doctor.
Dr. Rubin Bashir, assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at Baylor College of Medicine, is a back expert and has some helpful tips to understand back-pain-photoand avoid back pain.
Back pain can be acute or chronic. It can be more difficult to determine the cause of chronic pain, the type of pain that lasts more than three months and slowly gets worse. Bashir said there are some typical culprits for acute back pain. These include sports injuries, car accidents and strain from working around the house and yard.
Whatever the cause of back pain, there are contributing factors that can make it worse., things like aging, obesity, smoking, poor posture and poor sleeping position.
“Don’t smoke, don’t smoke, don’t smoke,” Bashir emphasized. “There are so many reasons to not smoke, and here’s another one. It reduces blood flow to the spine and causes disc degeneration.”
Other tips for back health include:
- Don’t slouch
- Sleep on your side, with a pillow between the legs for the best spine position
- Don’t lift things that are too heavy for you to handle; use your knees and don’t pick something up and twist in one motion
- Maintain a healthy weight and proper nutrition
- Wear comfortable, low-heeled shoes
- Exercise regularly
If you are experiencing back pain, Bashir says not to spend too much time lying around to rest your back.
“Don’t spend too much time in bed with back pain. Get up and walk around,” he said.
Regular exercise speeds recovery and, in the long, run, it’s the most effective way to keep your back healthy. Good options are walking, swimming and stretching.
What other treatments might help? If your stomach can tolerate it, take over-the-counter pain relievers like as Advil or Aleve.
If other things provide relief – such as chiropractics, acupuncture or ointments such as Bengay, Bashir says to use them, noting the science behind those measures aren’t clear.
There’s also no proof that ice and/or heat works but, again, Bashir said if it makes you feel better, do it – just don’t sleep on a heating pad.
For some people, surgery is an option. There are many different procedures, depending on what type of pain you’re experiencing and the reason for it, and they can be very effective, Bashir said.
The breakthrough that could mean the end of hip and knee replacements
The Best Way To Sleep If You Want To Avoid Back Pain
Have you thought much about the positions in which you sleep? Considering that many of us spend close to a third of our lives between the sheets, if might be worth our while to contemplate how sleeping arrangements might hurt or help us.
It is pretty easy to know if the way you sleep is bothering you. How do you feel when you get out of bed in the morning? Some people jump out of bed ready to run a marathon while others find themselves bent over the bathroom sink, holding on for dear life, as teeth get brushed. Maybe you fall somewhere between those two extremes.
Let’s start with a position that no one should sleep in under any circumstance:
1. On the stomach
If there's a winner in the worst sleep position contest, it's stomach sleeping without a doubt.
If you sleep on your belly, your lower back is compressed all night long, and your head and neck are invariably twisting to one or the other side in a fairly extreme manner.
While changing sleep habits might not be the easiest thing in the world, we are a highly adaptable species capable of doing pretty much anything we want, though sometimes extreme measures are called for.
When it comes to sleeping on your stomach, you might need to wear a pocket T-shirt to sleep with a tennis ball tucked into the pocket. It is certainly possible that you might be able to change without it but if not, the tennis ball in the pocket should do the trick.
Another sleep position to be avoided is:
2. On the side with one leg hiked up higher than the other
This position moves us toward stomach sleeping but also twists and torques the pelvis for as long as you maintain the shape. People who adopt this pattern often do so to accommodate tight muscles, so changing this pattern can benefit you in terms of the quality of sleep and balance of your muscles.
Some people need to tie their legs together in order to make this change. You can use a bathrobe belt or something soft, and there's no need to tie the strap too tight, but as long as the legs can’t separate you will be doing your body a wonderful service.
A great way to sleep for most people is:
3. On the back
Sleeping on the back is an excellent option with three important caveats.
If you sleep on your back, you probably don’t want to use a pillow, because this will force your head up at an unnatural angle.
Both legs should be straight. There's a tendency for one knee to slide up and out. This should be avoided, as it can twist the pelvis.
Also, if you're someone with very open hips whose legs flop completely open while lying in a supine position, you can be stressing the hip joints with too much rotation.
Propping up the outer calves or belting the shins is an option if you have open hips as described and don’t want to change your position away from sleeping on your back.
But the winner of the best sleep position for the long term health of your back and body is:
4. On your side, with the legs together
Sleeping on your side with the legs together and the knees aligned is a fine way to serve the needs of your body for sleep. The least amount of stress is placed upon the body when sleeping this way. Your pelvis is well situated, and this variation on the fetal position is both calming and comforting for your nervous system. Placing a pillow between the legs is an excellent complement to this position.
Make your pillow is the right thickness between your ear and your mattress so that both sides of the neck are evenly extended. This way, you're setting yourself up for a comfortable and sound night’s sleep.
The quality of your sleep shouldn’t be disregarded in the search for a healthier and more fruitful life. The rest we get overnight impacts the energy of our waking hours in ways that are often underestimated. Good sleep positioning goes hand in hand with good sleep efficiency and fruitful waking hours.
Calm Down and Take These 7 Daily Steps to Deal With Stress
Stress is something we all deal with every day. To run a successful business, you have to wear many hats and change them at a moment’s notice, and keep a number of balls in the air at any one time.
Stress is such a part of our daily lives that the idea of “stress management” has become a popular phrase.
The Mayo Clinic reports that, “Stress is a normal psychological and physical reaction to the ever-increasing demands of life.” As for the cause of stress, they explain that the brain becomes hard-wired with an alarm system designed for protection. “When your brain perceives a threat, it signals your body to release a burst of hormones to fuel your capacity for a response. This has been labeled the ‘fight-or-flight’ response.”
Although stress is a natural part of life, no one can live with it long term as it can wreak havoc on both health and focus. You have to find ways to reduce its impact on your life and business or suffer the consequences.
Dr. Joel & Michelle Levey, founders of Wisdom at Work, have come up with seven strategies that help increase stress resilience
1. Practice mindful communications
When speaking to others, it is easy to let your mind wander to your own thoughts. Mindful communications means developing the capacity to “stay in the moment” with whomever you are speaking with. Focus and refocus your attention on the person talking and the experience of the moment.
2. Don’t let stress accumulate
Your body lets you know what it needs and only functions properly when you provide the relief: you eat when you’re hungry and drink when you’re thirsty. If you have an ache or a pain, don’t ignore the distress signals. Seek ways to alleviate the discomfort. Take a break from work, take a nap, exercise, or get a medical check-up. Find what works for you and do it regularly.
3. Center yourself
Pause throughout the day to center yourself. Step away from the computer and bring your life into focus again, like a short meditation. Live in the moment and ask yourself how you are doing at that point in time.
When we’re stressed, we may take short, erratic breaths. When you feel stress coming on, practice deep breathing. Close your eyes and inhale deeply and fully, then exhale slowly. Do this several times throughout the day.
5. Be kinder
While you may say, “I am kind to others,” are you able to say that about yourself? Give yourself permission to take a longer lunch or take an extra day off, if possible. The world won’t crumble if you check out for a few hours.
6. Find your zone
Look for the balance between burnout (too much challenge) and rust out (too little meaning). If you work strictly for money, you’ll eventually lose your motivation, whereas if you do something you love but cannot making ends meet, you’ll also feel the impact. Try to find a happy medium.
7. Live and work purposefully
Once you discover where you can make your greatest impact, do everything you can to stay true to that purpose.
Learning to manage workplace stress doesn’t happen overnight. Be patient with yourself. Just know you can’t always control what happens to you, but you can control how you react and handle a situation. Above all, learn to focus on the one thing that’s always within your control: you.
What is iHunch?
iHunch = back pain
iPad, iTouch, iPhone have brought around the new iHunch syndrome, according to New Zealand-based physiotherapist Steve August. The popularity of hand held devices is creating an increase in back pain amongst his patients, which we also see here at the Welcome Back Pain Management & MRI Centre.
He also sees this problem affecting as many as 80 per cent of health care professionals due to the long hours of bending while attending patients, performing surgery, or charting treatment notes. It’s not the bending over that’s creating the problem or the poor posture, it’s the amount of time spent in one position that is creating the iHunch syndrome.
The noted physiotherapist believes the iHunch syndrome can result in permanent curvature of the spine and is the underlying problem of most neck and upper back issues and up to 50 per cent of headaches. Take into consideration the amount of time the average human body spends bending forward — gaming, texting, searching the web or browsing Facebook posts. Some people are spending more time in this position using electronic devices than they do sleeping. At some point, Steve believe there is going to be a musculoskeletal price to pay.
Add to this the issue of lack of movement. As we sit, whether it be for work or leisure, hunched over devices or sitting in bad posture, we are depriving our bodies of what they need most to stay healthy; movement and activity. It’s a sad fact, that for the first time in human history, those in their later years are more fit than those in their 20s.
The issues with iHunch
Once the hunch that begins to form at the junction of the cervical and thoracic spines, it becomes much more difficult to lift your head and keep it up due to the overuse of myofascia tissue, a combination of muscle and soft tissue. This is a common sign in persons presenting with head forward posture. Over time, the myofascia becomes thickened with scar tissue making it even more challenging as muscle fibres may be subject to micro tearing and broader areas of scar tissue.
Be posture aware! Avoid sitting or staying in any position for long periods of time. It is recommended to change positions every 20 minutes. So, if you are watching a television program, get up and move during advertisement breaks. Take a break every few minutes from hand held device use and look up.
If you have experienced neck pain and headaches, or have concerns about the possibility of iHunch, there are several non-surgical treatment options available including therapeutic massage therapy and physiotherapy. A program can be developed specifically for your presenting condition including a thorough postural and movement assessment.
A simple exercise you can do at home is to lie back on a rolled bath towel that is placed between the shoulder blades, along the spine, for up to five minutes. For headaches, heat your feet and ice your neck for up to 10 minutes to help relieve headache pain. As with all things, please check with your healthcare provider before doing the above.
If you’re experiencing iHunch, it’s recommended that you speak with a Registered Massage Therapist to assist you.
DID YOU KNOW?
The 2014 study showed that 55 per cent of Canadians owned a smartphone. In 2015, the penetration rate grew to 68 per cent, representing a year-over-year growth of 24 per cent. This gain in smartphone owners is a significant one that demonstrates how quickly the mobile revolution is progressing. SOURCE: Catalyst & GroupM Next research paper.
MOBILE USE FACT: A recent study revealed that the average person spends 90 minutes a day on their phone. That figure may not sound like a lot but that amounts up to 23 days a year and 3.9 years of the average person's life is spent staring at their phone screen. SOURCE: mobileinsurance.com
5 Foods To Help Fight Depression
The term, "depression," is loosely used in everyday conversation where people tend to make it synonymous with sadness. However, depression is much more than "feeling blue." Depression is a brain disorder that affects more than 20 million people in the United States according to the National Institutes of Health. While there are effective treatments available in the form of counseling and prescribed medication, many are reluctant to seek professional help. If you've been looking for an alternative means of fighting depression without medicine, you may want to try these foods that have been shown to help with this brain disorder:
1. COLD-WATER FISH
Studies have shown the positive effects of cold-water fish like salmon or tuna on individuals suffering from depression. These types of fish have antidepressant properties due to their abundance of omega-3 fatty acids. According to the National Institutes of Health, fish oil supplements used to provide omega-3 may improve symptoms of depression for those suffering from bipolar disorder. While more studies are needed to test omega-3's effectiveness for helping with depression, and discerning an adequate dosage, eating more of these types of fish can also be beneficial to a person's overall health.
2. DARK CHOCOLATE
Here's another excuse to indulge in this sweet, savory snack - dark chocolate can help fight depression. One cannot deny how the taste and smell alone can be used to help elevate moods that can battle bouts of depression, but another factor that makes dark chocolate so useful for this particular brain disorder is a chemical found in the cocoa content called phenylethylamine. Studies have shown that this chemical, which is commonly used for antidepressants and stimulants, can help improve moods and fight off symptoms of depression and stress. On top of fighting against depression, dark chocolate is beneficial for its antioxidant properties along with improving cardiovascular health.
3. GREEN TEA
Instead of having a cup of coffee for that caffeine boost every morning, try drinking some green tea. A study published by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has shown a correlation between green tea consumption and a reduced risk of depression. The study was conducted amongst elderly subjects in Japan who widely consumed green tea. The study concluded that individuals who drank green tea more frequently had a lower prevalence of depressive symptoms.
4. WHOLE GRAINS
Having a healthy, high-fiber diet with more whole grains can help fight depression. Whole grain foods like oatmeal or brown rice are an excellent source of magnesium. Studies suggest that magnesium can be used to counteract symptoms of depression. Magnesium deficiency has also been shown to cause symptoms related to depression like anxiety and insomnia. Other foods rich in magnesium include almonds and sunflower seeds.
Vegans, vegetarians and those looking for more omega-3 fatty acids, but don't want to consume fatty, cold-water fish can look to walnuts as a suitable alternative. Walnuts are also a healthy source of protein and can help prevent heart disease and lower LDL cholesterol. These beneficial factors can also help reduce symptoms of depression just by improving a person's overall health.
UNHEALTHY DIET MAY LEAD TO DEPRESSION
While all the foods can be used to help fight depression, a balanced and healthy diet is also very important. More and more studies are being done which show a link between unhealthy eating habits and depression. Many of these studies follow people over a certain period of time, analyzing their health, lifestyle, diets and any medical conditions. Often times, those suffering from obesity or heart disease were also suffering from depression.
Adding more of these foods to your diet can help fight depression and elevate a person's mood. These foods can also be useful for fighting depression if they are used to replace unhealthy foods that contain saturated and trans fats. However, it is important to realize that professional treatment and medication remains the most effective means of treating and preventing depression.
10 Daily Habits To Ease Chronic Pain
Get an Endorphin Boost: Exercise
It's a Catch-22: You're hurting, so you don't exercise; but without exercise, you may lose muscle tone and strength, making pain worse. Fortunately, even mild exercise releases endorphins, the feel-good brain chemicals that lift mood and block pain. Ask your doctor if aerobic, strengthening, or stretching exercises can give your body the boost -- and relief -- it needs.
Breathing, Meditation, and Biofeedback
It sounds so obvious, but few of us actually take the time to stop what we're doing and calm our minds. Deep breathing, biofeedback, and meditation are all stress management techniques that relax our bodies, which helps ease pain. Talk to your doctor to learn more, but in the meantime, slow down, close your eyes… breathe in… breathe out.
You need a good night's sleep to help soothe the stresses pain puts on your body. Although alcohol can help you fall asleep, as it metabolizes, it promotes shallow sleep, reduces important REM sleep, and may even wake you. The result: A less restful night.
Cut Pain: Quit Smoking
Some people find temporary relief from stress and pain with a quick smoke. The irony is that smoking may actually contribute to pain in the long run. It slows healing, worsens circulation, and increases the risk of degenerative disc problems, a cause of low back pain. If you need an incentive to quit, pain relief just may be it. Ask your doctor about programs and medicines to kick the habit.
Give Your Body a Boost: Eat Better
If you're living with chronic pain, you want to do everything you can to help your body, not hinder it. One way to keep your body strong is to eat a well-balanced diet. Eating right improves blood sugar, helps maintain weight, reduces heart disease risk, and aids digestion. Aim for a diet rich in whole grains, fresh produce, and low-fat proteins.
Journal: Help Your Doctor Help You
Keeping a pain journal can be a great way to help your doctor understand and more effectively treat your chronic pain. At the end of each day, record a "pain score" between 1 and 10. Then note what you did that day, and how these activities made you feel. The next time you see the doctor, bring the journal and discuss your findings.
Schedule Relaxation, Set Limits
By taking care of your emotional and physical health, you can better manage your pain. That may mean saying no to events like parties if you need the rest. Or it may mean scheduling regular massages or setting an unbreakable dinner date with good friends to boost your spirits. How you care for you is unique to you -- and it's also up to you.
You already know that focusing on pain can just make it worse. That's why one potent prescription for relief is to keep busy with activities that take your mind off the pain. Take that cooking class you've had your eye on, join a garden club, try skiing lessons. Even if you can't control the pain, you can control the rest of your life. Get started!
Know Your Medicines
Understand the medicines you're taking, what they can do for you, and their side effects. Then educate yourself about other treatment options. Your goal is to have a normal mood and activity level -- if you don't, then a different medicine might be better for you. Your job is to be proactive, to ask questions, and look for answers.
You're Not Alone
As many as one person in every three is dealing with chronic pain, so you're far from alone. Reaching out is the most important habit you can develop to help you deal with chronic pain. Tell friends and family what you're feeling, because they won't know otherwise. Ask for help. Learn more about your condition. Then share what you know with others.
Easy trick to relieve Carpal Tunnel, Hand & Wrist Pain
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a debilitating condition that can hamper your life. It hurts: The incessant pain, numbness and tingling are annoying and often overwhelming.
Moreover, carpal tunnel changes the way people work and do tasks with their hands. Gripping and holding become difficult and painful; typing or doing fine finger work (like electrics or sewing) can become nearly impossible. While surgery tends to provide the best relief, it often has unwanted side effects. In this article, I’d like to share another method of treatment, a do-it-yourself acupressure method that just may offer significant help.
The Narrow Carpal Tunnel
The carpal tunnel is a narrow, rigid canal or passageway on the under (palm) side of the wrist. The area consists of bones, connective tissue, tendons and the median nerve. The carpal tunnel joins the forearm with the palm of the hand.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) occurs when the medium nerve running through the carpal canal becomes irritated or compressed because of a narrowing of the area canal area. Since this nerve is what sends the sensation signals to the palmar side of the hand, thumb and fingers (minus the pinky), compression leads to inflammation, pain, tingling and numbness. Other discomforts can include burning, itching, pain that radiates up the arm and weakness. Even when no visual swelling is apparent, sufferers feel like their hands are swollen, generally as a result of the numbness in the fingers.
There are a number of things that can cause or put you at risk for developing CTS.
- Genetic predisposition: Small bones or a small carpal canal increases the risk.
- Hormonal changes: For women, hormones increase the chances of the syndrome; pregnancy and menopause can be particularly problematic.
- Diseases: Conditions like arthritis, lupus, diabetes and obesity can lead to narrowing of the canal.
- Repetitive motions: Excessively doing activities like typing, using hand tools, gardening, golfing, sewing and massaging can repeatedly strain the area, causing localized inflammation and trauma.
Common CTS Treatment Options
There are a number of treatment options in wide use for the treatment of CTS. These include the use of wrist splints to brace the wrist in a neutral position to allow reduction in irritation of the area. You can also take a break from the activity that may be causing the CTS. But that is unrealistic if you depend on using your hands for a living.
Anti-inflammatory medications are also used to reduce pain and inflammation, as well as corticosteroids. However, these are not recommended for long-term use because of potentially serious side effects. Physical therapy and surgery round out the list of usual treatment options, but they offer only varying degrees of success.
In my clinical practice I developed a self-acupressure method that has proven successful in various degrees with my own clients and those of my colleagues. The theory is based on traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and acupuncture. This philosophy takes into account not only the physical canal space but also the role of blood, lymph and muscle in the prevention and treatment of CTS.
In a nutshell, here is the technique you can use:
- Extend your forearm, wrist and palm muscles to stimulate blood flow and reduce muscle contraction pain and tightness.
- Press specific acu-points to remove energetic stagnations and promote free flow of qi or energy.
- Restore range of motion.
- Reduce inflammation, pain and stagnation in the carpal tunnel, hand, wrist and forearm.
I made the following video for you to follow. Repeat this procedure several times a day for best results. If you are in an early stage of the condition, you get best results. But even long-term sufferers can find relief.
This Is What Happens When You Drink Only Water For 30 Days
The body—each molecular cell, tissue, and organ—relies upon water to remain alive and workable. Water provides a kind of health therapy, along with sustaining your life. It greatly impacts specific body operations and the maintenance of good health.
When you only drink water as your primary beverage, outstanding things can happen. Undertaking a special water regimen is not easily achievable for some, but positive consequences are possible. Here’s what can happen when you drink only water for 30 days, without changing your diet or exercise routine.
Your mental creativity and performance will be boosted
When you drink only water for 30 days, your brain reacts faster, according to the Frontiers in Human Neuroscience Journal. As the brain needs tons of oxygen to operate efficiently, and water is one of the great sources, your brainpower will be boosted. It helps you think and help you focus. Also it makes you keen, clever, and quick. Ingesting 8 to 10 cups of water per day can improve your cognitive performance by as much as 30%.
You’ll age more slowly than your peers
Drinking water helps decelerate the aging process by keeping your skin adequately hydrated. It moisturizes your skin, keeps it healthy, soft, plump, glowing, youthful, and wrinkle-free. It helps maintain muscle tone, also. To realize these benefits, you must drink pure water.
In an article published by the Daily Mail, a 42-year-old mother managed to make herself appear 10 years younger in 30 days by drinking only water. She started by drinking three liters of water a day to overcome her long-standing headaches and poor digestion dilemma. After only one month, she was absolutely stunned by the spectacular results. Both of her problems were resolved, and she fully recovered from the effects of chronic dehydration.
She announced, “I genuinely can’t believe the difference in my face. I look like a different woman. The dark shadows around my eyes have all but disappeared and the blotches have gone. My skin is almost as dewy as it was when I was a child. The transformation is nothing short of remarkable… I’m feeling leaner and fitter, too, which is amazing, since the only thing I’ve changed is the amount of water I drink.”
Your immunity will be strengthened
A Slovakian Proverb says “Pure water is the world’s first and foremost medicine.”
That is no exaggeration! Water behaves as a catalyst for the renewal of optimal body functions. Drinking adequate amounts of water supports the performance of your liver and kidneys. These organs eliminate toxic substances, waste, and salt from your blood.
FullFitSure asserts that sufficient water consumption neutralizes pH levels, strengthens your immunity against kidney stones and other illnesses, and supports pain management (body aches and headaches), too.
You’ll have a stronger heart
Water helps you become heart healthy. It decreases the threat of a heart attack by preventing your blood from thickening, and by lowering your blood pressure.
One glass of water an hour before bed is said to prevent a heart attack or stroke. It makes it easier for the heart to send freshly oxygenated blood to the organs. The American Journal of Epidemiology published a six-year study that found that people who drank more than five glasses of water a day were 41% less likely to die from a heart attack than those who drank less than two glasses a day.
Your bones will be strengthened
Water helps rebuild shock absorber cartilage, so joints can move smoothly, curtailing joint damage triggered by tension. Testimonies give evidence that joint flexibility improves with adequate intake of water.
You’ll lose fat
When you drink only water for 30 days, your body removes irritable, harmful toxins and waste products from your vital organs. This makes your body cleaner and helps trim belly fat.
In the beginning, an increase in pounds could become a concern if your body is retaining water before adjusting to the higher intake consumption. Even so, acting as an appetite suppressant, water comes to the rescue. You’ll soon begin to consume fewer calories, lose weight, and keep it off, because the water flushes out your system, cleansing your body and reducing your hunger.
Andrea N. Giancoli, MPH, RD, and spokesperson for The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, submits that drinking one or two glasses of water before a meal can fill you up so you naturally eat less. Consuming water at regular intervals will assist with your weight management.
Your metabolism will be enhanced
Studies suggest that consistently drinking water during each day stimulates a more dynamic metabolism, regardless of your diet. Consuming 16 ounces of water just after awaking in the mornings raises your metabolism by 24%, according to the Health Fitness Revolution.
Calling all desk jockeys: Stretching to ease neck and shoulder pain
Any task that encourages you to sit in one position for long hours can wreak havoc on posture. Even enjoyable hours whiled away with an e-reader or a tablet may have that effect and worse. Over time, poor posture chips away at the range of motion in your joints. Neck problems and repetitive stress injuries from tasks such as typing may occur, too.
Fortunately, good ergonomics and regular posture checks can help combat these problems.
Ergonomics for computers, phones, and tablets
If you use a laptop or desktop computer:
- Choose a chair with good lumbar support, or place a pillow against the small of your back.
- Position the top of your monitor so it’s just below eye level.
- Sit up straight with your head level, not bent forward.
- Keep your shoulders relaxed and your elbows close to your body.
- Keep hands, wrists, forearms, and thighs parallel to the floor.
If you use a handheld phone:
- Avoid propping the phone between your head and shoulder.
- Consider investing in a comfortable, hands-free headset. Depending on your needs, you can choose one designed for use with cordless phones, landlines, or computers.
If you use an e-reader or tablet:
- Buy a case that allows you to prop the device at a comfortable viewing angle, one that doesn’t require you to bend your neck much.
- Change things up every few minutes. “Usually we tell people they should change their position every 15 minutes,” says Dr. Jack Dennerlein, principal investigator of the tablet study and an adjunct professor or ergonomics and safety at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “Just change your hands, shift your weight. Stand up or sit down.”
'I feel like I'm dying': the effects of panic attacks and anxiety – and how to overcome them
In reality it's like having liquid terror injected into your veins
Come on, you can do this. Just keep it together. You’ve been practising all night, you’ll be fine. Why haven’t they arrived yet? This room is too small. Oh God it’s happening again. Heart is racing and chest is tight. I won’t be able to speak, I’ll faint, I’m going to run around the room screaming and then everyone will realise what a freak I am. I have to get out of here now.
That is the day I walked out of a job interview, one which I really wanted, minutes before it began. I had (what I now know) was a panic attack, the worst of my life.
By definition a panic attack is a sudden rush of physical and psychological symptoms. In reality it’s like having liquid terror injected into your veins. You cannot think straight and you have an overwhelming sensation that something is very wrong.
From an evolutionary perspective they are an extension of the fight or flight defence mechanism that helped humans to survive. In prehistoric times, cavemen relied on this rapid ability to react to danger. If a caveman encountered a hungry lion then he had two options; either fight it or run away. Both of these require huge surges of adrenalin to flood the body with the extra strength needed. The stress felt when he believed his life to be in danger triggered the fight or flight response.
Unfortunately the world has changed faster than evolution could adapt. These days, there is little chance that you’ll bump into a lion at work, (unless you’re Bear Grylls!). However, what if other things cause high levels of stress such as; board meetings, interviews and heavy workloads? The brain is tricked into believing that the body is in danger and triggers the fight or flight response. The problem is, you can’t actually fight your boss or run out of a meeting. So this extra adrenalin becomes redundant and instead courses through the body without an exit, causing physical symptoms such as a pounding heart and sweating.
The brain, unable to recognise any present danger, becomes distressed by this reaction and asks questions, what is happening? Why am I reacting like this? This in turn increases the adrenalin and the vicious cycle continues, otherwise known as a panic attack.
There are many arguments as to why and how panic and anxiety develops in a person: genetics, difficult childhoods, trauma, but there is no concrete evidence. What’s important is to understand them and learn how to manage the effects.
So what do people need to know about panic attacks?
They cannot hurt you
It might feel as though you’re about to die or lose your mind, but you’re not. It is also very unlikely that you will faint. Panic attacks are a strong dose of fear and this causes both the body and brain to react intensely. Try and think of them as a trick. You are not in any real danger, but you feel afraid. For example, in the cinema when watching a horror movie you can feel scared even though you’re perfectly safe. Try and think of panic attacks in a similar way.
Don't berate yourself
Panic attacks are an irrational reaction and therefore cannot be treated in a rational way. Arguing with your thoughts or berating yourself to snap out of it will only make it worse. Instead, try and accept what is happening and be kind. Make yourself comfortable in whatever way you can. Try and get some fresh air, listen to some music and do some steady belly breathing to increase the oxygen flow.
Ask for help
If you find that they are disrupting your day to day life and preventing you from doing certain things; dining out, going to the supermarket, or speaking in meetings, then it might be time to get some help. Both anxiety and panic attacks are very treatable, Advantage Healthcare Systems can offer help and advice.
1 in 4 of us
Most importantly, they are much more common than you think. In fact one in four people have experienced anxiety or panic attacks. So you ar not alone. People are also a lot more understanding than you might expect - there is nothing to be ashamed of. Mental health is something that employers must take seriously.Credit - Independent.co.uk
Preventing Back Pain at Work and at Home
Almost everyone will experience back pain at some point in their lives. Back pain varies from one person to the next. It can range from mild to severe, and can be short-lived or long-lasting.
Preventing all back pain may not be possible. We cannot avoid the normal wear and tear on our spines that goes along with aging. But there are things we can do to lessen the impact of low back problems.
Guidelines for Protecting Your Back
Having a healthy lifestyle is a good start to preventing back pain.
Combine exercise, like walking or swimming, with specific exercises to keep the muscles in your back and abdomen strong and flexible.
Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight puts added pressure on your spine and lower back.
Both the smoke and the nicotine cause your spine to age faster than normal.
Good posture is important to avoiding low back problems. How you stand, sit, and lift things has an increasing effect on your spine health.
Guidelines for Proper Lifting
- Plan ahead what you want to do and do not be in a hurry.
- Position yourself close to the object you want to lift.
- Separate your feet shoulder-width apart to give yourself a solid base of support.
- Bend at the knees.
- Tighten your stomach muscles.
- Lift with your leg muscles as you stand up.
- If an object is too heavy or is an awkward shape, do not try to lift it by yourself. Get help.
Picking Up a Light Object
To lift a very light object from the floor, such as a piece of paper, lean over the object, slightly bend one knee and extend the other leg behind you. Hold on to a nearby chair or table for support as you reach down to the object.
Picking Up a Heavy Object
Whether you are lifting a heavy laundry basket or a heavy box in your garage, remember to get close to the object, bend at the knees, and lift with your leg muscles. Do not bend at your waist.
When lifting luggage, stand alongside of the luggage, bend at your knees, grasp the handle and straighten up.
Holding An Object
While you are holding the object, keep your knees slightly bent to maintain your balance. If you have to move the object to one side, avoid twisting your body. Point your toes in the direction you want to move and pivot in that direction. Keep the object close to you when moving.
Placing an Object on a Shelf
If you must place an object on a shelf, move as close as possible to the shelf. Spread your feet in a wide stance, positioning one foot in front of the other to give you a solid base of support. Do not lean forward and do not fully extend your arms while holding the object in your hands.
If the shelf is chest high, move close to the shelf and place your feet apart and one foot forward. Lift the object chest high, keep your elbows at your side and position your hands so you can push the object up and on to the shelf. Remember to tighten your stomach muscles before lifting.
Supporting Your Back While Sitting
When sitting, keep your back in a normal, slightly arched position. Make sure your chair supports your lower back. Keep your head and shoulders erect. Make sure your working surface is at the proper height so you don't have to lean forward. Once an hour, if possible, stand, and stretch. Place your hands on your lower back and gently arch backward.
5 Powerful Beverages To Slow Down Arthritis Joint Pain
If we want to live a vigorous life full of energy and vitality, a healthy diet is a fitting way to do it. You are what you eat, may sound harsh or overly simplistic, but it is the truth. But, when we think about healthy nutrition, we often think only about solid food. We forget that we are also what we drink. Making the right and healthy choices of beverages is equally important as choosing the healthy foods.
Keeping ourselves hydrated is essential. Our bodies are mostly comprised of water (~65%), and one of the ways we can function properly is through the balance of water and electrolytes in our body. Drinking (healthy) fluids and beverages have multiple purpose:
- Removing waste from our body
- Controlling our heartbeat and our blood pressure
- Keeping our metabolism functional and healthy
- Transporting nutrients for our cells and backing up our immune system
Arthritis and liquids
Arthritis is an inflammatory disease of joints that occurs after years of wear and tear, muscle damage, and fatigue. It causes severe joint pain, stiffness, deformities, limited movement and inflammation. Arthritis affects millions of people all over the globe, causing pain and discomfort. Healthy nutrition is essential for people with arthritis and inflamed joints.
5 beverages to help you cure arthritis:
1. Fresh juice
Freshly made juices are an excellent alternative to reducing inflammation and joint pain. Fruits are natural antioxidants and a rich source of vitamins and nutrition. Fruits have anti-inflammatory and invigorating properties, so it is common sense to use them to reduce the symptoms of arthritis. You can make fresh juice out of any kind of fruit, easy and in a matter of minutes. You can use a blender or juicer. If you’re trying to lose weight, you can kill two birds with one stone because severe joint pain is often caused by those extra pounds. Make sure to use fresh, organic fruits.
Our recommendation: pineapple or blueberry and cherry juice.
Drinking tea has a positive effect on your T cells and their ability to fight bacteria, infection and inflammation. Tea can help you boost your immune system in a very natural, healthy and safe way. Tea has anti-inflammatory properties, improves the strength of the bones, and protects the brain, all of which can be helpful in decreasing the symptoms of arthritis.
Our recommendation: green tea and black tea.
3. Milk (low fat and fat-free)
Although you need to avoid dairy products if you have arthritis, especially cheese and other products with high levels of fat, because intake of dairy products lead to inflammation, latest studies show that women who drink low-fat milk have lower osteoarthritis and gout progression. A daily glass of milk will provide you with additional protection against joint pain.
Fruit and vegetable smoothies are an excellent homemade remedy for severe joint pain. Pick fruits and vegetables rich in carotenoids:
Combine different healthy ingredients for your smoothie beverages, making your recipes. Be bold, and don’t be afraid to use fruits, spices, seeds and vegetables you never used before. Try different combinations, and always add turmeric (which is an awesome anti-inflammatory super spice) sunflower seeds, coconut oil and coconut milk.
5. Hot water with lemon and honey
Antibacterial, cleansing and anti-inflammatory properties of honey are known for thousands of years. Make sure that you drink this simple, but potent, beverage every single morning and in the evening. Use tea cup of hot water (not boiling), squeeze a couple of spoons of fresh lemon, and add two generous teaspoons of honey. Add some cinnamon on top, and you’re good to go. Hot water with lemon and tea will detox your body and relieve pain in your joints.
Healthy, natural beverages made of fruits, vegetables, spices and oils prevent cancer, obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes. They have anti-inflammatory properties and can even reduce joint pain and other arthritis symptoms.
In addition to healthy beverages, you should also use SynerFlex that claims to be the best possible support for your knees, shoulders, and sore hips.
The best thing about healthy, homemade beverages is that they can be made easily and at the convenience of your home. They are full of nutrients that are good for your health and joint pain. They relieve symptoms of arthritis, give you energy and, let us not forget this, they taste fabulous.
7 Things No One Understands About Chronic Pain
In 2016, one in three Americans suffers from chronic pain. That’s more than 100 million Americans, more people than those who have diabetes, heart disease, and cancer combined. It costs our medical system billions of dollars and no one’s getting better. Here are a few of the surprising things we’ve learned along the way:
1. Chronic pain can happen to anyone.
Chronic pain comes in all forms and affects all types of people. It can happen to you regardless of your age, health level, or family history. The youngest person featured in the film was 17, and he has been in pain since he was 12 years old. He suffers from leg pain caused by a syndrome known as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, which has no cause and no cure. Because of his illness, he’s missed out on so much of his childhood and worries that his future is also at risk.
2. Many doctors are stumped by chronic pain.
Despite the alarming number of cases of chronic pain, most physicians aren’t very well-trained in the problem and our medical system is having a tough time finding the answers. The common treatments are pain pills, nerve-blocking injections, and surgeries.
These treatments generally reduce pain by a point or two but rarely offer sustainable relief. And prescription narcotics have been all over the news lately because of the shockingly high rates of addiction and overdoses that they cause.
3. Pain is actually a message from our bodies.
When you experience an injury, nerve cells in the afflicted area send signals of distress to your brain. These signals are processed in your subconscious, and that’s what creates the feeling of pain. It’s a rapid-fire messaging process to protect you from danger. When pain becomes chronic, this messaging system is flooding your body with danger signals all the time.
4. Stress doesn't just worsen pain, it can cause pain.
As my partner and I worked on This Might Hurt, we became fascinated by the work of Dr. Howard Schubiner, who specializes in psychophysiological disorders, which are disorders caused by stress. Chronic pain patients often turn to him after years of attempting mainstream medical interventions with few results.
We met one woman who was bedridden with stomach spasms and fibromyalgia for eight years before she became his patient. After undergoing his treatment, she’s now back to a normal life. Dr. Schubiner’s work, called mind-body medicine, supposes that if pain is a message caused by danger signals, those signals can also come from stressful emotional events as well.
Research actually shows that our brains process intense emotional situations (abuse, abandonment, grief) in similar ways as physical ones. His method attempts to treat the underlying emotional causes of pain, in the absence of physical abnormalities.
5. But that doesn’t mean it’s all in your head.
Every day, chronic pain patients see doctors who take blood tests and do scans of the body and yet can’t find anything physically wrong. So many of the people I met had been told by one or more of their doctors, “It’s all in your head.” But people with pain that has no clear physical cause are not imagining their pain. Their pain is real. And dismissing it as "all in the head" only makes the suffering worse.
6. Meditation doesn’t only help your stress, it can also relieve pain.
A large component of mind-body medicine is meditation, which has been proven to be more effective than a placebo at easing chronic pain. It can also help the mind detach from the cycle of fear that accompanies the onset of pain, with questions like “Will I have to go to the hospital?” “Will it last forever?”
Being mindful of what was happening around the time of the onset of pain can lead to a deeper understanding of its emotional causes. Noticing whether something particularly stressful was happening when the pain started can help you determine whether there’s an emotional connection to the physical symptom.
7. There is always hope.
Chronic pain can lead to depression, anxiety, and in the worst cases, suicide. Many chronic pain patients feel misunderstood and alone. But this disease affects all of us, whether you are a sufferer, a medical professional, or a family member of someone in pain.
When you’re in constant pain, it’s hard to imagine ever being pain-free. But throughout filming I met countless people who have resumed normal lives after years of suffering. There is always hope. Meditate on that.
Simple Moves Which Will Help you with Your Back and Neck Pain
Neck pain affects almost 50% of adults at some time in their life and back pain rates are even higher, at about 80% of all people. Given that many of us have a very sedentary lifestile, sitting in front of our PCs at work, couches at home and in the car, it’s no wonder back and neck pain rates skyrocketed in the digital era. Bad posture puts a lot of strain on your muscle and bones and it usually takes a lot of effort to correct these issues. Of course, bad posture isn’t the sole culprit when it comes to back and neck pain, as they can be symptoms for a myriad of issues, including:
- Fractures and microfractures
- Poor muscle tone
- Muscle tension or spasm
- Degeneration of vertebrae – as an effect or aging or stress on the muscles and ligaments.
- Heavy lifting
How can back and neck pain can be prevented?
- Use correct lifting techniques when working out
- Keep a correct posture while sleeping, standing or sitting
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Reduce stress (can lead to muscular tension)
- Avoid smoking
- Exercise regularly
Obviously, if you're experiencing back or neck pain it's important to first find out the cause of the pain and this is usually done in a physician's office. However, the milder forms of pain caused by bad posture and a sedentary lifestyle can often be fixed or ameliorated using the following exercises:
This loosens neck and back muscles and makes them more flexible in the long run, allowing you to avoid neck injuries. Slowly circle your head to left, forward, and right, then reverse and try to do 5 to 10 reps per side. Get into the habit of doing these on a daily basis and you'll never wake up with a stiff neck ever again.
The lat pull-down is one of the basic exercises you'll see anyone doing in a gym and there's a reason why it's so popular: besides working your lat, deltoid and core muscles in your body, it also helps "stretch" your backbone. Sit down on the pull-down machine and grab the bar with your palms facing forward. Raise hands above your head and after that pull elbows down to sides, hold it and then raise hands back in position A. Do 15 reps and try to control the negative movement of releasing the weights back to their initial position. Rest as you see fit – this is not a cardio exercise, but one that helps you remove neck and back pain, so it's imperative that the entire exercise is controlled and smooth, to avoid further injuries.
The Shoulder Roll is a relaxing exercise and it's commonly used in Physical Therapy Stretches for the neck. Keep your shoulders pressed down, then roll them upwards, back as much as you can, and forward in a circle for 15 times and repeat in reverse direction.
Stand on your feet, with your back as straight as possible and use your left hand to grab behind your head, near your right ear. Slowly pull down toward left shoulder; Try to hold the stretch for 15 to 10 seconds. You have to feel tension in the side of your neck and your shoulder, but don't over do it, you're stretching your muscles here, you're not practicing ancient ninja necksnapping techniques! Switch sides and repeat as many times as you feel is needed.
When we hear the word stress, most think of sitting in traffic, waiting on long lines at the grocery store, working long hours, arguing with a family member, etc. We rarely equate stress with something positive. The health implications of poor stress management can can be significant if not properly addressed. People deal with stress in a variety of ways, most bad, some good. some choose to walk away and internalize it, while others meet it head on and learn how to manage it. It is impossible to manage or control everything and everyone in our lives, and trying to do so tends to lead to even more stress. We have to learn how to accept the things we cannot change, and learn how to better manage and prepare ourselves for the challenges ahead.
"A healthy diet and daily vigorous exercise can be your best weapons against the health effects of stress."
Excercise In his Essay on Man, 18th century English poet Alexander Pope states "strength of mind is exercise, not rest." daily vigorous exercise helps to reduce levels of the body's stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. it also helps stimulate the production of endorphins, your body's natural pain killers and mood elevators. exercise has a unique ability to help both exhilarate and calm the body and mind.
To properly fuel the body, a diet rich in whole grains, high fiber fruits and vegetables, lean protein and healthy fats is essential. Feeding your body with the appropriate sources of fuel and essential nutrients is key to maximizing the benefits of physical activity and helping to manage stress. Nutrients such as vitamin B6, thiamin and B12, are essential to healthy nervous system function. Magnesium is an essential mineral which helps support nerve function, muscle relaxation and a normal heart rhythm, all of which may be affected by physical or emotional stress. The improved energy and vitality associated with daily physical activity and a healthy diet provides a sense of well being and confidence that will help you be more successful in all aspects of your life including, home, work and relationships. When firing on all cylinders, one can't help but feel more relaxed and better equipped to face the many challenges of everyday life.
Proper rest and a good night's sleep are keys to reducing stress and anxiety. Most people don't get adequate sleep, which on average should be between 7 and 8 hours/night. We get up early, run out the door, often without eating a healthy, nutrient rich breakfast. We typically look for that quick "pick me up" in the middle of the day which usually consists of refined sugar or caffeine, only to find ourselves feeling the same way an hour or two later. It's a vicious cycle that is often the result of improper rest and sleep. Poor sleep habits are an often overlooked explanation for anxiety and poor stress management.
In addition to healthy eating, daily exercise, and proper rest, meditation and taking some time to "get away from it all" can be great ways to help you better manage stress.
"Poor sleep habits are an often overlooked explanation for anxiety and poor stress management."