Latest "Alleviating Pain & Chronic Health Problems" Posts
And why does it matter if you sit or MOVE anyway?
Let’s face it, we’re spending way too much time parked on our rumps, not thinking about whether we sit or move. You know it’s bad when they start naming new health problems that are directly related to how much we’re sitting. Have you heard of gluteal amnesia? It can be directly related to lack of movement and muscle atrophy because we’re not doing what we need to be doing to activate, strengthen, and use our muscles to MOVE! Sit on your butt for too many hours a day and your glutes get lazy, hips, hamstrings, and quads get tighter which leads to more low back pain, as well as hip pain, knee pain, and problems with your neck and shoulders.
It’s so “relaxing” to park your butt in a chair and chill out, but is this really in the best interest of your body and helping to maintain your good health? Or, would a wiser choice to be getting up and doing something a little bit more active?
Whether you’re sitting, standing, or moving, good posture matters to keep your muscles working well. And if that’s not enough motivation for you, studies have shown that the more you sit, the higher risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer. We have to decide to sit or MOVE more to help improve whole-body health.
A quick 60 minute workout 2-3 days a week isn’t going to undo 8-10 hours with zero movement and poor posture while you’re tush is parked at your desk working all day. Sit with good posture and you’re a step ahead to keep your body strong, fit, and flexible. Get a little extra time standing up and moving around and your body, and brain will be even happier.
Do you find yourself exhausted from a long day at work? How is sitting in front of the TV going to perk up your energy level? Chances are it’s not. But, maybe that snack you grab will do the trick. Unfortunately, you’ll likely end up burning fewer calories because you’re too sedentary, while eating more because you’re desperate for energy. Did you know that standing burns 30% more calories than sitting and you can up that number even more if you move! We have to make a conscious decision to sit or MOVE throughout the day.
Our muscles only get stronger when we use them. We only get more flexible when we work our joints through their full range of motion. Our circulatory system (heart), respiratory system (breathing), and digestive system all function better when we are active so whether we sit or move, our bodies are impacted.
Shift Your Mindset from: “I HAVE to Sit Down” to “I just need to MOVE for a Minute.” Then I challenge you to follow the wise advice that just came out of your mouth and do it. Set a timer, get up, and move for at least ONE Minute (every hour of the day)!
Looking for a quick 10 minute workout to re-energize your whole body for better health? Check out the ebook: Pulse Power! The Daily Dozen
Interested in getting better benefits from every step you take? Discover an easy to learn system to help you enhance your whole-body health by fine-tuning your gait with Pilates Walk: Tips, Techniques and Exercises for a Healthy Stride.
Are you ready to kick your back pain problems to the curb?
Get ready to eliminate back pain… You can start feeling better fast!
Back pain is a significant problem in the USA. There can be a variety of different reasons to end up challenged with back pain problems, and it can be extremely aggravating to figure out how to feel better. But there are lots of different exercises that can be done to eliminate back pain, and Pilates can be an excellent choice in the process of improving posture, strength, flexibility, and developing healthy movement habits to enjoy life.
I was recently contacted by Natalie, at Runway Pilates to be a contributor to an article she was writing 11 Pilates Instructors Reveal the Best Core Exercises For Back Pain. It was awesome to be asked to share my insights. Then I realized that I needed to be succinct in my response! With my own personal low back issues, and having worked with lots of clients over the past two-plus decades of teaching Pilates, I’ve got so many thoughts to share on the subject of eliminating back pain problems.
Continue Reading ‘You CAN Eliminate Back Pain with Pilates Core Exercises
I have posted several blogs about Osteoporosis and exercise, and seemingly this is a topic that I get questions and comments from readers quite frequently. Over the years, I have had numerous clients with osteoporosis, and we’ve adjusted their Pilates workout programs to keep them safe based on their Dexa-scan results. I’m also reaching the age, where I need to be a little more careful with my own bone-density issues.
But with this said, I don’t necessarily consider myself an “osteoporosis expert.” So when I get specific questions about personal health issues, or osteoporosis and exercise, especially from readers all over the globe who cannot come into the studio and work with me personally, it’s nice to be able to refer people to a professional I trust to help answer questions.
Sherry Betz, PT, GCS, CEEAA, PMA®-CPT is a leader in the field of exercise, Pilates, and osteoporosis. Her company, Thera Pilates® offers Physical Therapy and Osteoporosis Programs.
American Bone Health is a non-profit organization that provides education, resources, and tools to help you understand bone disease and bone health.
Here’s a helpful Poster from American Bone Health for improving your bone-healthy habits during everyday activities. Regardless of whether you have osteoporosis or not, these tips and exercises can benefit your whole-body health!
Continue Reading ‘Osteoporosis and Exercise: Keeping Your Bones Healthy – Exercise Safety Considerations and Resources
Over the years, I can’t even remember how many clients have walked thru my doors complaining of foot pain caused by Plantar Fasciitis. Some were avid runners, others were nurses or school teachers, they either have jobs that required them to be on their feet all day, or they’ve made such poor footwear and shoe choices that now foot pain and plantar fasciitis were chronic foot pain problem!
I recently read an article by Rick Merriam, “Plantar Fasciitis has very little to do with your Foot.” This is a good article that is a strong reminder to me of why I’ve always focused on improving strength to affect muscle release, rather than just “stretching.” Balanced muscle development is required for a healthy body to move efficiently and without pain.
This is also why regardless of whether you’ve got foot pain, knee, pain, hip pain, back pain, or neck and shoulder pain, the first thing to become more aware of are your posture habits to stand, sit, and walk. If you can’t stand upright and breath with good posture habits, and optimal body support to help lift you UP off your feet, and keep your body in good alignment to move efficiently, it will be impossible to start making changes that will stick, no matter what the issue is you’re dealing with.
Continue Reading ‘Improving Plantar Fasciitis requires Paying Attention to a Lot More than Just Your Feet
Vagus Nerve Stimulation Might Be A Missing Link for Better Health
How in touch are you with your Vagus Nerve? Do you struggle with inflammation, depression, or other chronic health challenges? Has anybody ever suggested that you do anything specific to support your Vagus Nerve or suggested Vagus Nerve Stimulation? Do you even have a clue as to what it is, where it is, or what it does? I know…me neither. The Vagus Nerve links communication between the head, heart, and digestive tract. And of course before you go running off willy-nilly seeking the Holy Grail of answers for your health problems on the internet, check with your doctor and get proper medical advice before doing anything!
I saved the link to an article on the Vagus Nerve Inflammation Connection months ago because it interested me. Unfortunately, I am just now getting around to looking at it and realized that the website it’s posted on is no longer being updated, but I’ll go ahead and post the article link (below) that prompted this post.
I’m not much of a research junkie because I get lost in the technical mumbo-jumbo. However, in my personal struggle to maintain good health, I appreciate insights from every angle. Western medicine has failed me more times than I can count, and for many of my issues it’s been a struggle of mind over matter since finding a solution has been a nebulous quest. While it would be great if there were a magic pill, potion, or food that would “fix” it all, our bodies are complex organisms and there are a lot of factors involved in getting everything to function optimally.
Inflammation has been a HUGE struggle for me throughout my life, that along with depression, anxiety, digestive disorders, Optic Neuritis, joint pain, and muscle aches. I’m hyper-sensitive to foods, chemicals, and smells. Sometimes I can get away with more, other times I’m over the edge and in-trouble faster than I can blink. For some reason this past fall and winter were particularly challenging. My lows have been lower and I fall faster to the pit of despair than I ever have in my life.
It’s scary, but I’m also talking about it because I know I’m not alone. I am also sick of people saying; “It’s just a choice!” “Choose to feel better.” “Choose to think positively.” “Choose to be happy.”
You, my friend (or psychologist), obviously have never spent a day in my body where the norm is to wake up every morning trying to fight off the feelings of wanting to be 6 feet under. TRUST ME, nobody would willingly want to spend their life feeling like crap – physically, mentally, or emotionally. These are reasons why I’ve always exercised. Physical activity is my “drug of choice” because I really can’t take medications. Most of the time I feel better when I am physically active. But sometimes even that doesn’t help.
Continue Reading ‘Vagus Nerve Stimulation May Help Reduce Inflammation, Depression, and More…
Low Center vs. High Center: Get Your Core Support Where It Can Serve You Best
By finding and focusing on the right segment of your midsection to improve core support you can improve posture, help eliminate aches and pains, and reduce stress for better health.
One of the things I spend lots of time on with my clients is identifying the difference between Low Center and High Center support. Lack of body awareness, not understanding the difference between low center and high center, not knowing what your normal “go-to” recruiting pattern for core support really is, are just a few of the reasons why I believe so many people have issues with low back pain, hip pain, shoulder pain, and neck pain.
You might “kind of” know that your posture isn’t great. But you might not completely realize that YOU are 100% in charge of HOW you are holding your posture, and 100% in change of WHERE you are holding your posture. You also might not realize how much your “not-so-great” posture habits have been affecting every little ache and pain your body experiences throughout the day.
The cumulative effect of poor posture habits over time, is that some of those little aches and pains turn into chronic problems and for many people this leads to shots, surgeries, and mis-use injuries. But at the root of it all is POSTURE.
Continue Reading ‘Core Support for Better Posture
Are You Ready to Take Action and Do Something About Your Back Pain?
Back pain can be anywhere along the spine from the tip of your tailbone, all the way up to the base of your skull. Regardless of where it hurts, or what you’ve done to aggravate it – the truth is, that all anybody ever really wants is a quick fix to make the pain go away.
I know personally how life-altering it is to live with chronic back pain. I was born with defects at L5-S1 and that instability has made maintaining my core strength a necessity to keep me healthy. And if you’re low back is out of alignment, nothing stacked on top of that is quite right either so back pain can result anywhere from the bottom to the top.
If it’s not your low back that’s bothering you, it might be your mid-back, or upper back / neck and shoulders. It’s nice if a chiropractic adjustment can get you back in alignment, but then the question remains – how long will your adjustment hold before it hurts again? Pills and shots tend to mask the pain so you feel amazing while you’re medicated, and worse off when it wears off!
There are 2 critical things to pay attention to that can quickly begin alleviating your back pain problems.
- Better Posture
Ideally our spine is designed to move freely in all directions. When the bones are “out of balance” it restricts movement. Muscles get into tight over-holding patterns, and the daily activities we do over and over sometimes only make it worse. Muscles move bones, so getting the right muscle balance to maintain healthy body alignment for better posture really does matter if you’re serious about fixing your back pain problems. We need stability AND mobility.
It’s nice to think, “ If I could just “relax” my back would feel better.” But the truth is, it’s a combination of both work and release that will make the biggest difference to improve your health. Right now that work/release balance for good posture is out of whack, and the only way your body can tell you there’s a problem is with a pain signal.
Improving posture is going to be a long-term project… There is lots to become aware of, bad habits to replace with better habits, and never-ending opportunities to incorporate posture-improving exercises into your weekly workout program. If you’re interested in getting started paying attention to your current posture habits click here to take this Posture Quiz.
Now let’s talk about breathing: Keep reading and take in a few deep breaths. Notice where the air is going inside your body.
- Does your low belly stick out when you inhale?
- Does most of your air rise up into the front of your chest?
(Both of these not-so-hot breathing habits are contributing factors to low back pain.)
- Are you able to take a full, deep breath, or are you a shallow breather?
If your back really hurts you might be compensating by not breathing deeply enough to avoid more pain (when in fact this choice is only making the lock down effect worse, and creating more tension.)
- Do you breathe evenly into BOTH lungs? Or tend to fill one side more than the other?
(Not breathing evenly, back muscles are not working/stretching evenly.)
- When you inhale do you lift your shoulders up around your ears, or is the ribcage lifting and the shoulders are just riding along on the lift of the cage?
(If you’re actively hiking your shoulders up, you’re jamming your head/neck into your body compressing the cervical spine.)
Since so many people these days have forward head posture your poor neck and shoulder muscles are already on over-drive to keep your head from falling off your body, which is a part of why your shoulders want to hike up to begin with and why you may be dealing with neck pain, mid-back pain or both.
Poor neck! Poor shoulders! Poor back! Have I gotten your attention yet?
Continue Reading ‘Bye-Bye Back Pain By Practicing this Simple Back-Opening Breathing Exercise
Are you sick and tired of aggravating neck and shoulder pain, and ready to change your habits to help alleviate shoulder tension?
I’ve had the opportunity to help so many clients over the past 20+ years teaching Pilates who have walked thru my door complaining of neck and shoulder tension, stress, chronic pain, or rotator cuff injuries. It’s amazing how quickly things can improve with a better understanding of posture, breathing, body alignment. Then getting the right exercises into your weekly workout program to reinforce healthy new movement habits and alleviate shoulder tension is the ultimate way to keep the pain away.
It’s a 3-Step Process to get your brain and body in sync for better health. We don’t know what we don’t know. It’s impossible to make corrections or improvements with our movement habits to alleviate shoulder tension if we don’t realize we need to change, or have never been shown a better way to stand, sit, breathe, or move.
Step 1: Your brain has to be able to send the right message to your muscles. Cognitively understanding what needs to happen is the first step. If you don’t even realize that there is something you’re doing with a daily habit, task, or exercise that is creating the pain, OR that there is actually something that you can do about it, how on earth can you ever fix it? Your brain is the master controller for the rest of your body. Your body sends a message to the brain that there is pain… The brain is then supposed to help the body fix it! How often do you ignore the pain and just keep doing what you’re doing? (or try medicating & masking the pain with a pill – so you can ignore the problem and hope it will just go away?)
Step 2: Improve Your Body Awareness. Being able to find and feel things working differently in your own body is step 2. It’s important to be able to notice when you’re doing things right or wrong so you have an opportunity to make adjustments for better health. There is a level of trust that needs to be restored between your brain and body, to improve confidence that if there is a problem, you acknowledge it, and will take action to improve the situation.
Step 3: Practice Good Posture and Healthy Movement Habits. By applying better body mechanics to every physical activity you do, you get to put your new-and-improved posture habits into practice to help re-train the right muscles to support healthy pain-free movement; reducing your risk of injury and ensuring that whatever activity you do it’s safe and effective to help you stay healthy. This not only helps alleviate shoulder tension, but helps develop a well-balanced body to keep your whole-body healthy!
Even when we’re sitting still, doing nothing, it can be challenging to alleviate shoulder tension! Just thinking about things that increase our stress level can effect the amount of neck and shoulder tension we’re holding onto. Being cold and shivering will wrap your shoulders up around your ears quickly also, and you might not even realize why it’s happening. Too much time in front of your computer, sitting in a recliner watching TV, or bending your head forward to text message on your phone all are daily life activities that may be contributing to neck and shoulder tension problems.
If you’re tired of complaining about neck and shoulder tension and ready to start paying attention to what you’re doing along with learning how to take better care of your body, there is something you can do about it. Yes, getting a massage might help you enjoy some temporary relief, but for lasting results it’s time to take control of your body and be pro-active to improve how you stand, sit, and MOVE.
A Sprained Ankle Doesn’t Have to Become a Chronic Foot Pain Problem
Can’t remember the last time I had a sprained ankle… It’s been 30 years or more. My silly sprained ankle accident happened a week ago Saturday. I stepped in a low spot in a parking lot and turned my ankle. Really wrenched it! My foot turned completely sideways and all my weight went on it. I quickly righted myself, and limped for a few steps, then proceeded with my day, kind of amazed that nothing “popped” seemed to crack, or hurt very badly. If it had been anybody else, (who doesn’t focus on foot fitness,) I’m guessing they would have been carted off to the emergency room with way more than a sprained ankle, probably a fractured foot, or lots of torn tendons and ligaments.
Is my foot 100% back to normal, not quite. I overstretched things a lot! And I’m counting myself very lucky, it should have been so much worse than just a sprained ankle. I’m still treating it gingerly to heal fully. BUT zero swelling, zero bruising, and when I went to the chiropractor today, I have full movement, the joint is open, and he was amazed when I told him what I’d done. My foot and ankle are only a little sore, with a tiny bit of inflammation which is so much less than I expected based on my stupid parking lot mishap. (Silly things happen to the best of us.)
Why am I sharing this? Because preventative medicine isn’t just pills and potions. There are so many things we can do to ensure good health. It starts with learning how to listen to the body and take care of our daily needs. Eating healthy, getting enough sleep, and daily exercise can go a long way to preventing illness and injury for a happy, healthy, and active life. I was tired, I’d had a long workout, and wasn’t really looking at where I put my foot down when my accident happened. So know I’m dealing with the repercussions of my little mishap.
It’s important to listen to our bodies when something is not quite right, to allow the healing time necessary to keep injuries from turning into chronic pain problems if you really want to stay healthy. This seems especially challenging when we’ve got foot pain problems, because we need our feet to take us where we want/need to go. If you limp around on a sprained ankle, and do you really think it’s going to get better quickly?
A holistic approach to good health means one should pay attention to everything they do as our choices affect our outcomes. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” was Benjamin Franklin’s famous saying which holds true here too. It’s easier to stay healthy, than to get your good health back. Making wise choices with everything you do will help maintain your good health.
My question for you to consider today…
(I’m assuming that you’re already making lots of great efforts to improve your wellness) If you’re making great health choices for the rest of your body… What are you doing for your feet?
Good health starts from the ground up! If you want to fine-tune your fitness, improve your posture for better body alignment and keep all your muscles working well, please don’t forget about your feet!
What do I know saved me from a serious foot injury last week and has me dealing with just a sprained ankle? The foot fitness exercises I do and teach! Especially what’s listed below:
- The Terrific Toe series exercises, and Standing foot exercises from the Fantastic Feet book
- The Super-Ankle Foot Fit Board exercises
- My lateral skate training, and Coreglide board classes at Bodhi Body Pilates
- My weekly Pilates workouts with focused foot exercises including Footwork, the Stomach Massage series, and Running on the Reformer.
I’m so very grateful to be walking this week! But trust me, I’m not walking for a workout, or doing much in a full-weight bearing position. Giving my foot a little rest-break to recover, then planning to double up on my foot-care routine to ensure it’s a very long time (hopefully never) before something like this happens again!
To take good care of your feet, and be sure you’ve got the resources you need to stretch, and strengthen your ankles, arches, and toes – I recommend you get a Runfit Kit. The Runfit Kit contains all my favorite foot-fitness exercise tools and toys to help keep your feet in tip-top shape for better health. (Running is not a requirement, to get benefits from the foot-care resources in this helpful foot-care kit!)
If you already have a copy of the book Fantastic Feet, and have been doing your exercises, you can purchase the rest of the foot-care resources separately in the Foot Fitness section of the Centerworks store.
Have you ever been challenged by an injury? It doesn’t matter what you’re doing, whether it’s for fun, or work, to get fit, or compete in a sport. The risk of pain, and potential injury will always be present. Learning how to overcome injuries when they happen, and learning how to work through them in a safe and appropriate way, can make a big difference in the success of your recovery, and your ability to continue leading a healthy and active life.
To overcome injuries there are a few simple steps you can take to help ensure a quick and complete recovery. And I say “quick” but that word might not mean what you want it to mean. I don’t believe it’s as important that you push to get back to 100 percent fast, but rather to focus on doing what’s best for your body, with the understanding that TIME is a very important part of the healing process.
Here are 10 Smart Solutions to Overcome Injuries for the Quickest Recovery Possible:
Continue Reading ’10 Smart Solutions to Overcome Injuries for a Quick Recovery