How Winter Weather & Holiday Foods Lead to Inflammation

Damp winter weather can make your aches and pains give more accurate weather readings than the latest satellites. While the concept may seem like a neat super power that should guarantee a ten-year run with the Weather Channel, the reality is painful and disruptive. The cold winter months are the time of year when more food is consumed, especially during the holidays, but much of that food exacerbates joint pain by making our system more acidic, which leads to inflammation.

Inflammation and Chronic Pain

Inflammation is an amazing tool designed by our body to rush blood and nutrients to an injured site and act as a mini brace until the crisis is over. In the right context, inflammation is great! However, when we aren’t injured and we don’t need a stop to our daily activities, inflammation isn’t a normal part of everyday life. It is a sign that something is off in our system.

There are many causes of inflammation, ranging from a poor diet (especially, too many sugary drinks), poor or not enough sleep, too little or too much exercise, medications, and allergies. Excess inflammation will cause joint pain and poor muscle signaling in the nervous system. Unless reversed quickly, this disruption leads to impaired motor control and chronic pain. Pain begets pain and precipitates injury. Does this sound like you or someone you know? We can make big changes and reduce inflammation and learn how to stop sabotaging ourselves!

Foods Can Cause Joint Inflammation

The paradox is that many of the serotonin-rich foods we love to eat and share with others during the holidays can be the most treacherous importer of inflammation. That cute little gingerbread man with the gumdrop buttons may be organic, have ginger, and be made with love; however, it is still an inflammation bomb that will create an acidic blood-sugar crash and burn in your system.

But it’s the holidays! You’re not going to forgo Grandma’s cookies, your niece’s fabulous brownies, and Uncle Charlie’s honey-baked ham! While it would be great it they could modify the recipes to use bananas instead of sugar and go for fish instead of pork smothered in honey, the reality of the situation is that we may not have control over what they bring but we do have control over what we bring and what we eat. There are ways to buffer what we eat and fight back with antidotes to inflammation.

Easy Ways to Reduce Inflammation

  • A simplified way to reduce inflammation is to eat lots of greens and colorful things that come from the ground along with palm-sized portions of fish that swim in cold water.
  • Grains, white starches, meat, and sugars need to be purchased along with 1-2 cups of something green without any added sugar. Apple pie, even loaded with Granny Smith apples, does not count as something green. The apples don’t count to balance the added sugars and acid- producing starches from the crust and filling.
  • Clean fats, such as grass-fed butter on roasted butternut squash, Brussels sprouts, and enough olive oil and lemon juice to make the leaves of your mixed green salad shiny, are great ways to feed your nervous system. These healthy foods will level out your pH against that peppermint hot chocolate or spiked hot cider you had earlier.
  • What’s pH? It’s a scale that defines acidic or base components in aqueous (liquid) solutions; neutral is a 7. A food or a solution with a number higher than 7 indicates acidic foods, which increase inflammation. Another great way to bring your dinner plate back to neutral is to drink several glasses of lemon water. The lemon water will give your skin a wonderful vitamin C and collagen-boosting glow and help with digestion as it balances your pH level.

How To Learn What Works Best For You

Everyone’s neuromuscular and digestive system is different, and foods that may be helpful for some may cause an adverse reaction in others. Generally speaking, buying your starches and meats with 2 servings of low sugar fruits and veggies is a good rule. However, not everyone likes or can tolerate kale, some people detest Brussels sprouts, and others may have a reaction to potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers, collectively called nightshades.

So how do you know what works for you?

  • Go to your local pharmacy or shop Amazon and look for diagnostic pH test strips. For about $10-$15, you can purchase 90 test strips that can analyze your urine or saliva to find your pH. The recommended time to test is your second urination in the morning to determine the composition of your system.
  • To experiment and see what food or food combinations affect your system, test 1 hour before a meal and 2 hours after and compare. Keeping a journal in Evernote or another note-taking device of your choice is a great way to keep track of what helps and what hurts your unique system. As a side note, you may test slightly acidic to your norm if you are testing after an intense workout.
  • For more information on testing and other wonderful benefits of healthy aging on an alkaline diet, visit Dr. Axe Alkaline Your Diet is the Key to Longevity and Fighting Chronic Disease.

While the holidays may be a time of joy and secretly sabotaging foods, that doesn’t mean they have to get your system down. Now that you are armed with these pH balancing and inflammation-fighting work-arounds, go forth and enjoy the winter season of light and festivities!

Got Wrist and Hand Pain? Here’s 3 Exercises for Permanent Relief.

 

Buttoning your shirt, opening a door, doing pushups, lifting weights, gripping a steering wheel, and typing on a poorly placed keyboard are just a few of the mind-boggling range of tasks that your wrists and hands do every day. We move our hands and wrists side-to-side, forward, and back. Our hands open out (supinate) and rotate in (pronate) to do countless tasks during our waking hours.

These motions, repeated hundreds of times throughout the day, can create weakness and stiffness in your wrists and fingers. Our hands and wrists truly define us as human, but most of us forget that the wrists and hands need upper body support to remain strong and flexible.

Good sitting or standing form at the computer during the day will help, but strengthening the upper body and aligning the pelvis (hips) will prevent most hand and wrist injuries. Opening a door or lifting weights overhead with your shoulders firmly resting on your back, not rounded forward, will help even more. But the three exercises below, done every day, will make that support permanent. These simple exercises will build strong and aligned shoulders, which will strengthen your wrists, save your elbows, and keep your hands and fingers springy.

What causes wrist and hand pain?

Answer: the shoulders.

Weak shoulders, rounded shoulders, and a forward head cause wrist and hand pain. It’s not your wrists. It’s your shoulders. Shoulders belong on your ribs, on your strong upper back, not forward of your vertical line.

After 20 years of seeing you come in with wrist and hand pain, I’ve learned that the cause is always weak shoulders and a rounded upper back. Sure, it is the wrists and hands if you have fallen on them, but without a fall or an acute injury, experience says that it is the shoulders. This is true for professional athletes as well as the rest of us. It’s the shoulders, a rounded upper back, and a misaligned pelvis (hips).

When a client comes to see us, it’s usually for pain in one hand or one wrist. It is rarely both hands or both wrists. Why not? We use both hands and wrists to do most tasks, even if we are dominant to one side or the other, the non-dominant hand and wrist has to support the go-to side. Typing, clapping hands, playing the piano, and exercising all require both wrists to do the same job at the same time.

Our conclusion is that the activity, the act of typing, playing the piano, climbing a rope, or sculpting isn’t causing the wrist pain. The hands and wrists pain is the effect.

How does shoulder alignment affect the hands and wrists?

It is your out-of-line shoulders and forward head, and certainly aided by an out-of-line pelvis (hips). If the pelvis is up on one side or twisted on the other, the shoulders can’t work well and the hands, wrists, and elbows suffer. That wrist and hand pain is a signal, a result of reduced function in the shoulders.

The shoulder works within a remarkable range of motion. If it can’t find that range, it stops working properly and the wrist, as the arm’s other rotary joint, takes over and tries to do a job that it was not designed to do. A good example of this occurs in tennis, where the game is played with an overhead serve. If the shoulder doesn’t work and it’s painful to go overhead, then we either stop playing tennis or develop a sidearm approach to serving. That sidearm approach will usually damage the elbow and the wrist.

But the crux of the problem is the cause away from what seems like the cause. Look down the kinetic chain away from the wrist, and the chances are that we’ll uncover a dysfunctional pelvic girdle as well. The pelvis has to be correctly aligned so that the spine stacks up properly. When the spine is properly aligned, the shoulders will be in their correct, functioning position, and the wrist pressure and pain will be gone!

So, let’s use these three exercises to align the pelvis (the hips), strengthen the shoulders, and re-establish the shoulder and pelvis connection. Do them in order every day!

Butterfly (Frog) Pullovers

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent.
  • Bring the soles of your feet together and drop your knees out.
  • Clasp your hands together and lengthen your arms above your chest.
  • Lower your arms to the floor, or as close as you can without bending your elbows and then bring them back up.
  • Start with 1 set of 15 pullovers; build up to 3 sets of 15.

Standing Elbow Bangers

  • Stand against a wall, with your heels, hips, upper back, and head against the wall. Feet are parallel and 4-6 inches apart.
  • If all this is impossible, move to the floor, bend your knees, and do the exercise there. Once that is easy, go back to the wall.
  • Put your knuckles on your temples and point your thumbs straight down to the floor.
  • Open and pull back your elbows to the wall (or as close to it as you can get) and then bring your elbows back to the front, to your face.
  • Elbows stay at shoulder level; don’t drop them down.
  • Start with 1 set of 10 Elbow Bangers. Build up to 3 sets of 10.

Standing Arm Circles

  • Stand in the center of a room, feet parallel and 4-6 inches apart.
  • Put your hands into a golfer’s grip or hitchhiker’s grip and keep them there throughout the exercise.
  • Pull your shoulder blades together and down toward your spine, and then bring your arms straight up to shoulder level, hands still in the grip.
  • Rotate your hands and thumbs back so that the palms are facing up and follow your thumbs backward, feeling your shoulder blades staying down and in toward your spine. Start with 20 circles in this direction. Build to 40.
  • Now, relax for a moment and bring your arms down.
  • Check your handgrip and bring the arms back up to shoulder height. Turn the thumbs forward, so that the palms are now facing down, and begin circling the entire arm forward, keeping the shoulder blades down and in toward the spine.
  • Start with 20 circles in this direction. Build to 40.

Do this series once and focus on what you feel and see as different. Is there less pain? How do you feel, better balanced and more grounded? Grab a piece of clay and see how the sculpting feels now, play a piece on the piano and see how the wrists feel. Pick up a weight and do an overhead and see how it feels.

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions. If you would like a copy of this program with pictures and these directions, fill out the Contact form below and we’ll send one out to you.

Bill Boland

 

 

Don’t Just Sit There! Change the Way You Sit

How you sit will be how you walk.

     How you sit will be how you stand.

How you sit will be how you move.

     Watch how you sit. It will define you.

Notice how you get up after you have been sitting for a while. Of course, a while is subjective. For some, it’s 20 minutes; for others, 2 hours plus, but the feeling of stiffness and straightening out is the same, just more so after 2 hours. Have you ever wondered why this feeling hangs on and gets worse as the day goes on? It’s because of how you sit – how you sit is how you will stand and move.

Everyone works. Work for many of us demands hours of sitting in a chair, a car, a train, an office, or a classroom and then even more time sitting at a computer screen. Lawyers and accountants sit all the time. It’s part of the job description. But we don’t have to let our jobs and our closed-in space define us.

What’s wrong with how I sit?

We should be sitting upright on our sitting bones, letting the lumbar spine and cervical spine go into their natural lordotic curves. Our weight then goes to our pelvic bones, the hips, which can take the load of the upper body. That upper body weight doesn’t belong on our low back and spine. Sit on your sitting bones and the weight goes to the big hipbones and legs.

Most chairs put us at an angle away from the task at hand, and so we lean into the desk, screen, or table, pushing our low spine into the sacrum. So, when we sit, we round our low backs into the chair and lean forward to do our work. We round our upper back into a C-curve, pushing our low back into the sacro-iliac joint (S-I Joint). This adds unwanted pressure to the nerves of the low back. We don’t feel it for a while, but we will.

At some point, we have to unwind from that pressure. So, when we stand up, whether from sitting 20 minutes or 2 hours plus, the spine and all our back muscles have to react to being on two feet. Our head and upper and lower body all try to disentangle themselves from a rounded upper and lower spine and get the body upright. It is a mixed message, one that the neuromuscular system doesn’t get completely right. Some of the C-curve remains and it becomes part of our standing and moving patterns.

How does my sitting posture affect my standing posture?

That carryover from poor sitting will then become a forward head and rounded shoulders when we stand and walk. Eventually, there will be pain and unexpected injuries to our working joints. The system does what is easiest, not what is physiologically correct. It can’t always self-correct, as much as we like to think it does. But, the system will automatically do the right thing if we use our sitting bones all the time.

Habits, unconscious patterns, use less energy and require less work from the brain than having to figure out new movement patterns. Unconscious movement patterns, habits, do have their place, but we overuse them. The body doesn’t necessarily do what’s right or good for us. It does what is most efficient. Read that as easiest. Its job is to get us from here to there. The body doesn’t care if you look like Quasimodo or Misty Copeland. But, you It is the only one you have.

Most of us interrupt hours of sitting with brief spells of activity. That’s not enough. You need the right kind of activity. Define that as whatever is unfamiliar. Just move in a new way; do the kind of activity that you don’t usually do. The activities that matter to your nervous system are the not habitual ones. It is the movements that are not familiar to us that are important. It’s as simple as going into a room and turning on the lights with your non-dominant hand, across your body. It’s harder, feels awkward, and all because it’s not familiar. It’s not your habitual pattern of moving. If you use a mouse all day with your right hand, why not stop for a minute, get up, and do an Overhead Arm Extension and Twist. It’s a big stretch and it wakes up the opposite set of muscles.

What can I do to fix it?

Bounce a ball against the wall if you can’t get outside. Try a few Muhammad Ali moves against an imaginary opponent, a little shadow boxing. No need to work up a sweat. Just get up and move. Throw in a Parallel Squat, a Standing Quadriceps Stretch, a Standing Hamstring Stretch, or Standing Arm Circles. All of these can be done in no space and without any props. There’s no excuse not to move. How we sit is how we walk. Don’t find yourself stuck it in a slouched position. Get up and reset your body. An inflexible spine is the result of slouching all day. If the spine can’t move, disk damage is next.

Do you take the elevator every day to your office or from your home? Don’t. Walk to the stairwell and climb up or down a few flights. If you are on the 10th floor, that’s do-able, up or down. Higher than that, it’s hard. Do what you can. If five flights is your max today, go for it. More steps will come in time. Don’t let habits take over your life and ruin your chances of living longer and better.

How about facing a wall and letting your arms and hands reach up over your head and up the wall toward the ceiling? That’s not a habit; it’s called Active Wall Climb, a new movement for you. That switch changes the way the nerves and the muscles move and react.

Mushy abdominal muscles, tight hips, and lumpy butt muscles are the result of poor sitting habits and form. Slump and the abs don’t work. Find the sitting bones and stay on them. Sitting flexes the hip and locks them out of extension, a necessary part of moving. Here’s where Knee Pillow Squeezes, standing, sitting, or on the floor, would make a difference. Your butt muscles do absolutely zero when you sit; they turn to mush, jeopardizing your balance, your ability to climb stairs, and your ability to walk. Doing your second set of Parallel Squats would start to remedy that condition.

If you always open the door with your right hand, try opening it with your left. It will be surprisingly difficult. You have to think about it move out of the way as the door comes back to you at a speed you won’t expect. Yes, you will use more energy to do this simple task.

But, this will reorganize your nervous and muscular system just by doing that non-habitual move. It is a conscious pattern, one that requires new muscles and neurons to accomplish. It’s not a habit. That simple move and others like it will get your body moving, and will get your neuromuscular system to work its way back to the body’s design.

Movement is a remarkable physiological and biomechanical process. However, the protective benefits of moving come from doing it, not understanding it. It doesn’t matter if you understand physiology or biomechanics, but it does matter if you understand how overworked your unconscious movement system is. You can change it and improve your life. You can live longer and live better with movement. It takes only a conscious awareness of this need to get it done.

If you don’t make time for movement, you will have to make time for illness. Reducing the average time you spend sitting to less than 3 hours per day could increase your life expectancy by 2 years. The average American now spends nearly 8 hours a day sitting on a chair or a sofa.

A meta-analysis of 18 studies comparing people who sat a lot versus those who sat the least found that people who sat for the longest periods of time were twice as likely to have diabetes or heart disease. This should be a wake-up call for all of us. Beware the Chair was the title of an article I wrote for this site over 10 years ago. Things haven’t gotten any better. In fact, they have gotten worse. Sitting has joined smoking and obesity as an important risk factor for chronic disease. Sitting has become the new smoking.

Watch your habits. Habits become your posture.

    Watch your posture. Posture creates your boundaries.

Watch your boundaries. Borders limit your growth.

    Watch your limitations. Limits create immobility.

Cherish your mobility. Immobility becomes your illness.

Below is video put together by Kathryn Kohler, one of our therapists, for those of us who work in offices. Take a look at it. See what you can use in your own office, as you try to move more and sit less.

All of the exercises we have created for this video are available to you. Just fill out the Contact form below and we will send you a PDF of the program. And then, all you have to do is do the exercises.

 

Bill Boland

The Cure For the “Sitting Disease” Part Two: Get Moving!

Health experts are now calling sitting a ‘disease’ of our modern world. So if sitting is a disease, how do we beat it? Is there a cure for the sitting disease?

The obvious answer is to sit less and move more. But how can you do this if you work in an office? If you earn your living sitting at a desk, you may think it’s impossible. It’s not. Here are some easy-to-do office solutions to get your blood flowing, keep your body healthy, and help your mind stay alert.

WALK AROUND.

How we sit is how we walk. Don’t find yourself stuck it in a slouched position, get up and reset your body every 20 to 30 minutes. Set a timer, and then walk around the office or around the block. Get a glass of water. Make an excuse to get up and stretch your legs. Instead of sending an email, walk over to your colleague’s desk and talk.

SIT ON A BALL.

Sitting on an exercise ball while you work raises your energy expenditure by 6% versus sitting on a chair. Try it. Not only is it a healthy choice, but it’s fun tool. The Gaiam® Balance Ball Chair is an excellent choice.

STAND UP.

Standing at your desk raises your energy expenditure by 30%. The combination of sitting and standing is even better. A VARIDESK®, allows you to vary your body position during the day.

The revolution of under-desk bikes and elliptical machines are a brilliant new phenomenon, allowing your body to move while sitting. New technology, such as Fit Desk® Under Desk Elliptical, and DeskCycle® Desk Exercise Bike, are transforming the workplace into a healthier environment. A recent study showed that the gentle pedaling movement had improved scores that tested cognitive skills. Exercise helps us perform our jobs better.

RAISE YOUR HEARTRATE.

Jump rope for 3-5 minutes. Do 5 minutes of Jumping Jacks. Throw in 5 minutes of Shadow Boxing. There a lot of ways to get your blood pumping even in a small space. Just go out into the hall, find an open space and do it. Your brain will get a rush of blood and oxygen. You will feel better and think more clearly when you get back to your desk.

Sitting shortens our postural muscles. The longer than we sit, the more our body becomes accustomed to sitting, so that when we finally stand up, we can’t stand up straight anymore. Our heads come forward, our shoulders round, our backs curve into a Big “C”, and we lose mobility.

To combat this, try the following BodyFix Method™ exercises.

Overhead Side Bend And Twist

Active Wall Climbs

 

 

 

Counter Stretch – Chair

Simple Standing Lunge

 

 

 

Seated Spinal Twist – Chair

 

Sitting weakens the postural muscles that hold you up. Your butt muscles and your back muscles become flaccid from prolonged sitting. Without these muscles being strong, you can’t support yourself against the force of gravity. It’s impossible to walk with grace and ease. To stay strong, try the following exercises at your desk.

 

Seated Shoulder Blade Squeezes

 

 

                         Seated Knee Pillow Squeezes

 

 

Standing In-Line Glute Squeezes

 

 

 

Sitting is a more a Dis-Ease than a “Disease”. Don’t let it get you! If you read my last blog, you know that sitting is the cause of many conditions and illnesses. All of them are avoidable just by getting up and moving.

Find a way to incorporate movement into your workday. Move every half-hour. This is not a luxury; it is a necessity. Your body needs to move to fight off diabetes, back pain, heart attacks, and the list goes on. Your brain needs movement to maintain optimal performance, good self esteem, and to fight off dementia. Isn’t that enough reasons to move?

For a complete description of these exercises, fill out the Contact form and we’ll send the program out to you ASAP.

Move it or lose it couldn’t be more to the point. Let’s move.

Anita Goodkind

 

Tummy Time! How Prone Exercises Encourage Strength & Balance

While visiting family this summer, I would spend hours watching my then three-month-old niece lie prone (on her stomach) and explore the world around her. Nico would reach her arms wide, push her knees into the carpet, and with great effort lift her head from the floor. She would then engage the muscles of her neck and turn her head triumphantly to gaze side to side. Watching her attempt to roll onto her back was an exercise of will as she gradually developed the strength to push into the floor and steer her left side under her right. While Nico is now a six-month-old expert roller, it took several weeks to build the strength and mobility that would allow her to maneuver while lying on her tummy.

What do babies know that we don’t?

When most of us think of strength exercises, we generally refer to practices learned in our adulthood. Complex machinery and gym memberships are our immediate references for movement and strength, and fitness trends replace each other with each passing year.

While many of the fitness classes and methods appeal to our adult sensibilities and lifestyles, there is still plenty we can learn from our earliest and most primal movement patterns. In fact, it is the movement patterns of newborns that can help adults tap into strength that can’t be accessed on the weight room floor.

Most parents are familiar with “tummy time”, a designated period of time during which their newborns lie on their stomachs so that they can intuitively learn how to move. They learn how to lift their head, use their limbs, and develop the necessary strength to push away from the floor and teach themselves how to crawl. While tummy time is a common practice for a newborn, most adults leave prone exercises out of their daily fitness routines. What we can learn from our little ones is how to regain strength in our back, glutes, and hamstrings, as well as how to achieve balance between the anterior (front) and posterior (back) aspects of our bodies.

Why does it matter?

As we age, we tend to become more and more anteriorly developed. We live in flexion. Between excessive sitting and simply moving in a forward direction, we gain strength anteriorly and weaken ourselves posteriorly.

Sitting for long periods will cause our butt and back muscles to weaken. So much so, that the anterior muscles are much more conditioned than their posterior counterparts. Several hours at the desk coupled with typical fitness classes like spinning or circuit training, will put more focus on building strength in the front of the body. The result can be short and tight anterior muscles that drag the bones away from their naturally aligned position. Forward head position (or “text neck”), rounded shoulders, a painful pelvic tilt (either anteriorly or posteriorly), and routine back discomfort are all related to this common imbalance.

What’s the solution?

Take a few fitness cues from our kids and make tummy time a part of our day. Even adults who are fit and regularly strength train are likely to find prone exercises challenging. When lying prone, gravity is pressing down on our posterior. The floor then limits the ability of the anterior muscles to help out. This puts the demand on our back, glutes and hamstrings, which makes tummy time a real workout. It might be difficult at first. However, just like my baby niece, with applied practice we can all develop the posterior strength needed to move freely and without pain.

Try these simple prone exercises either at home or at the gym. You’ll develop a strong posterior and a healthy, balanced body. Who knows, you might even feel a little younger!

 

  • Prone Active Cobra
  • Prone Ankle Squeezes
  • Prone Hamstring Curls – Unilateral
  • Prone Scapular Stabilization Series
  • Downward Facing Dog

Comment Below for to receive the full, detailed exercise program for FREE!

 

Elaine O’Brien

 

The Cure for the “Sitting Disease”.

How many hours a day do you spend sitting? I’ll bet it’s more than you think. And if your job requires that you sit, then those hours really start to add up. Health experts now use the phrase the “sitting disease” and widely agree that each of us should sit less, and especially at work. Why? Prolonged sitting has been linked with higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, and many other health conditions.

Standing desks have risen in popularity as a solution to sitting at work all day, but are they a solution or just another problem? Sitting all the time or standing all the time doesn’t add movement, which the body needs. The body craves variety. Sitting and standing come closer to meeting that goal.

10 Ways Sitting Wrecks Your Body

It ruins your posture.

  • Slouching or sitting improperly, which we all do when we’re tired, results in chronic muscle tension and muscle pain. It leads to postural conditions such as rounded shoulders, forward head posture, kyphosis (rounded upper back), and lordosis (sway back). Slouching causes your digestion to slow down and compromises your breathing. It is literally killing you.
  • Sit mindfully. Sit on your sitting bones with your knees at a 90-degree angle. Line your feet under your knees
  • Sit with a long spine and relaxed shoulders with your shoulders back and your head up
  • Put your computer screen at eye level.
  • Never sit for more than 20 minutes at a time. Get up and stretch, walk around, move! Your body will thank you and so will your brain.

Your Muscles Waste Away

  • Prolonged sitting causes muscle atrophy. When you sit more than you move, your muscles weaken and lose tone, and quickly. Use it or lose it applies to your muscle strength.
  • Muscle fibers become stiff and lose their flexibility; they lose bulk and mass and add fat instead of turning that fat into more muscle energy.
  • The more you sit, the more you train your muscles for sitting. You lose tone in your butt and leg muscles. This promotes aches, pains, and compromised walking and balance.
  • Sitting weakens the muscles you need for posture, spinal alignment, and pelvic floor health, too.

 

Your Bones Become Brittle

Your bones are constantly remodeling and building bone mass in one part of your skeleton and reducing it in another. Bones respond to weight bearing exercise and grow stronger. Sitting puts them in a stressful position and doesn’t add strength, so, they lose resiliency, tensile strength, and become brittle. Under unexpected stress, they break.

Half of all adult Americans are affected by bone loss, both men and women alike. Ten million adults live with osteoporosis. Much of the effect of osteoporosis can be avoided or reduced. It’s not a disease; it’s a condition. You can do something about it.

  • If you want to keep your bones strong, you need to stand up and move. Yes, it is that simple.
  • Daily walking and weight bearing exercises are critical for maintaining healthy bones.
  • You can use your own body weight for any bone-building exercise. You don’t need a gym.
  • Fix your posture. Do those bone-building exercises with optimal alignment so that the force is actually transmitted through your joints and bones.

It Slows Your Metabolism

Sitting through just one episode of Game of Thrones will slow your fat-burning mechanism down close to zero. In that one hour, your metabolism slows its production of the fat-burning enzyme lipase almost 90 percent. Most of us sit at least 7 hours a day, and often more. Guess what that does to your fat-burning mechanics? Right. They truly don’t have a chance to work. If you sit a lot and don’t slow your calorie intake, you will gain weight.

Underused Muscles = Overproduced and Underused Insulin 

You may be sitting, but your pancreas doesn’t know it. It continues to pump out the same amount of insulin. What does insulin do? Insulin helps cells take in glucose to be used for energy. If the body has sufficient energy, insulin signals the liver to take up glucose and store it as glycogen. If you are sitting, there’s not much need for energy, is there?

  • This excess insulin puts you at risk for Type 2 diabetes. Too much insulin in your system is also linked to breast and colon cancer.
  • When the body becomes less sensitive to insulin, levels build up in your body and the excess insulin stimulates cell growth.
  • Hours of sitting may also decrease your body’s production of antioxidants, which are the body’s natural way of protecting itself against free radicals, known cell damagers and cancer causers.

It Clogs Your Heart

Couch potatoes, defined as those who spend more than 4 hours a day sitting passively in front of a screen, have more than a 125% greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

  • Sitting clogs your heart and changes the way your body handles fats (lipids) in your blood.
  • It slows HDL production. HDL is the good cholesterol because it cleans up the bad cholesterol on the walls of your arteries.
  • Higher levels of lipids are allowed to build up and this puts you at higher risk for cardiovascular disease.

It Slows Your Circulation

Every time you sit for more than one hour at a time, you increase your risk of developing peripheral edema, swelling caused by fluid build-up in your legs, ankles, and feet.

  • This lack of circulation puts you at risk for developing varicose veins, or a blood clot, specifically deep vein thrombosis.
  • Poor circulation can also cause low blood flow to your other internal organs and cause a general feeling of dizziness, or brain fog.

It Aggravates Sleep Apnea

Prolonged sitting increases your risk of developing sleep apnea. If you are a male over the age of 40, and especially if you are overweight, you are at risk for sleep apnea. If you spend a lot of time sitting, you increase your odds. Why? It causes poor circulation and fluid retention.

  • As you sit during the day, the fluid accumulates in your legs. When you go to lie down at night, it moves up to your lungs and narrows your windpipe and its capacity to carry oxygen.
  • Breathing is reduced, as the restricted windpipe can’t supply enough air to calm and relax the body. You wake up again and again.

It Ruins Your Mood – And Stifles Your Creativity

Your mental and emotional states take a beating from sitting, too. When the body isn’t working efficiently to circulate blood, oxygen, and important chemicals, your mind gets foggy, your mood turns, and your self-esteem plummets.

Employees who were able to stand all day while working were in a better mood and had a higher self-esteem than those who sat all day. (CDC, 2011). Over 87% of the standers reported feeling more energized and 71% reported they felt more focused. They also had fewer complaints of fatigue, tension, and depression and were able to contribute more energetically to group discussion than the sitting control group.

  • Standing invigorates the body’s physiological processes.
  • Slouching is associated with negative changes such as depressive moods and low energy levels.
  • Standing boosts your metabolism up to 20 percent, elevates your mood, and strengthens bones and muscles.

Every Hour of Sitting Increases Your Odds of Disability

As we get older, sitting becomes a perilous activity. Adults over the age of 60 average 9 hours of sitting each day (Journal of Physical Activity and Health, 2013). This amount of sitting is bad enough, but many seniors sit even more than 9 hours each day.

Younger people are guilty, too. A typical office employee or staff person will spend 6-8 hours each day sitting at the office. When you add in lunch, dinner, computer usage, and streaming, it’s well over 10 hours a day of sitting.

  • For every additional hour spent sitting, the odds of developing disability increase by almost 50 percent.
  • Disability is defined as not being able to do normal tasks such as bathing, walking and getting dressed, all things we take for granted.

So, if sitting is a disease, what is the cure?

  • If you work in an office environment, getting a standing desk or a sit-to-stand desk should be the first order of business.
  • Take breaks from your work and walk around the office.
  • Don’t email your colleagues all the time. Get up and visit them.
  • Take deep breaths and move around. Take off your shoes and let your feet move.

A recent study actually compared office workers over 3 days who sat for 8 hours compared to those who periodically did gentle exercise such as riding a stationary pedal exerciser (see DeskCycle™) under their desk.

  • The results were extraordinary. Rather than the exercise being a distraction, those who performed the gentle movement had improved scores on tests of their cognitive skills.
  • Exercise helps us perform our jobs better.
  • Sitting on an exercise ball while you work raises your energy expenditure by 6% versus sitting at your chair.
  • Standing at your desk raises your energy expenditure by 30%. The combination of sitting and standing while working is an even bigger winner.

So, the cure for “Sitting Disease” is to Get Moving!

There’s more to come in my next blog on Exercises for the Sitting Disease…stay tuned.

 

In good health,

Anita Goodkind

 

 

 

 

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Avoid Feeling Like the Living Dead After the Marathon

I came across this interesting historical reference to the first marathon that has lead to the highly competitive quest for glory.

“Most runners know the legend of the marathon: In 490 B.C.E., after the Athenian army defeated an army of Persian invaders at the town of Marathon, a Greek messenger named Pheidippides dashed off to Athens, over 25 miles away, dramatically announced his side’s victory, and collapsed and died.” – Runner’s World (March, 2014)

I first heard this story years ago from an overweight friend just as I was getting into running. I wrote it off as his excuse for not running. Looking back on it, my friend may have had a point to his argument. I’ve trained and known many people who put their bodies through hell just so they can complete the sacred 26.2 miles.  It doesn’t matter if they haven’t trained all year or if they were running 70 miles the week before. Most of them are in serious pain at the end of the race.

For some it is bragging rights, for others, the challenge of a larger-than-life goal, or a mark of being “healthy”. That may be, but that bit of glory is okay only up until you can’t do day-to-day getting around without pain. The challenge is great but to what end? If not being able to walk straight for a week or two is healthy, you may want to check your definition source.

I’m not saying don’t run. Being able to cover great distances under our own power is incredibly liberating and good for our minds and bodies in so many ways. I personally compete in 50+ mile adventure-trail races. But it is important for us to question how we achieve these extreme goals and what our  end goal actually is. You don’t have to feel like death to feel accomplished.

Here are a few ways to help your body to prevent soreness and recover from the siren’s call of the 26.2. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Soreness/Fueling

Don’t start your race with an inflamed muscle or circulatory system. Inflammation can reduce your performance and it will increase muscle soreness dramatically. If you go the popular carb-loading route and are not on a high fat diet, make sure to choose sweet potatoes, purple yams, or even white rice to offset muscles soreness. Pasta and regular potatoes may be good carb choices for endurance. However, they will push your internal pH to an acidic and inflamed level.

What about white rice? Brown rice is great for all the fiber but if you have lectin sensitivity, stay with white rice. White rice is a better choice in terms of regulating internal pH, as the inflammation-causing lectins have been greatly reduced.

Specific supplements that can help reduce inflammation and muscle soreness are your B vitamins, especially B3 Niacin, B-12, or even taking a B complex supplement. I’ve been taking Niacin at night and have noticed a significant decrease in muscle soreness, post workout. Niacin is a great NSAID alternative for muscle soreness and it also promotes increased cardiovascular performance. B12 is essential for converting fat to energy. If your body is trained to this fuel source, it can help avoid hitting that wall around mile 20.

Carbohydrates are limited as natural stores in the body and they produce more inflammation when converted to fuel. Fat is forever and it creates less inflammation when it is used for energy. Nonetheless, limit the sugary gels and blocks. There are many high-ranking ultra athletes doing very well just using trail mix. I’m a big fan of Trader Joe’s Trail Packs and the occasional Rx Bar. Towards the end of the race, raisins may also be a good recovery food as they are extremely potent in neutralizing your pH, add iron, and have the quick fuel source your body will be craving after all that movement. If you really want to go all natural, Pink Himalayan Sea Salt and lemon make for a great electrolyte drink.

Warm Up/Cool Down

Before you start to run, move around a little and get your body going so it starts to warm up. Follow that easy warm-up with a series of light pressing/pulling body-weight movements to the head, shoulders, ribs, hips, calves, shins, and feet. The goal is to wake up and activate your electrical system so the whole body moves together balanced efficiently.

Do these simple exercises to make sure that a funky shoulder isn’t throwing off your perfect gait and running form. You also want to make sure that when the race is over that everything is BACK in proper shape as well.

Easy Running Warm-Up

  • Head – Stand and Tilt to the side and press into your hand and lightly resist for 6 seconds. Relax in that position for another 6 and repeat and lower the neck a little more. Do this on both left and right sides.
  • Shoulders – Standing Arm Circles strengthens the shoulders and the trapezius muscles so you cross the line looking good and tall.
  • Ribs – Upper Spinal Twist – sets proper rib rotation and enables true lung expansion. Go to the grass for this one. It’s a home run for runners.
  • Hips – Lay into a simple Hip Crossover Stretch, Palms Up or Palms Down. This keeps the hips level and loose.
  • Calves/Shins – Use Tai Chi breathing for the intake, sweeping the arm up and breathing in until you feel like you’re about to pop. As you do this, stand with your feet together and rise up onto the balls of your feet as your arms come up.
  • Create compression in your stomach and chest as you breathe out, letting the arms come down with resistance and gently falling back to your heels. Repeat 5-10 times. This will wake up the whole system, preparing your lungs while opening the chest.
  • Feet – Find a comfortable spot to sit. Take your shoes off and cross one calf over the opposite thigh. Interlace your fingers in between your toes as far as possible. Make circles in all directions for 10-20 circles and twists, and then switch directions. Fight against your hand a little bit so that the foot and ankle muscles engage. This is great for developing flexible arches and to prevent plantar fasciitis. Do on both right and left feet.

Practicing little programs like these will keep your muscle inflammation down and your running smoother. These tricks can be the difference between your getting that desired Personal Record or your spending the next two weeks after a race immobilized from soreness and pain. Monitoring your inflammation levels, nourishing yourself with sustainable fuel, and moving intelligently are your keys to success and finding your true potential. Now, go forth and be epic!

Kathryn Kohler

Want to Train Smart & Run A Strong Marathon? Build Your Butt Muscles to Avoid Running Injuries.

 

The mechanics of walking and running are not the same, and its especially important to recognize the difference before running a marathon.

When we walk, both feet are on the ground 30 percent of the time. This means the hips and upper body have double support 30 percent of the time that we’re walking, climbing, or hiking. The glutes are given a chance to work bilaterally, balancing that work when both legs are on the ground at the same time.

This is not the case with running. Running is a one-legged sport. Both feet are never on the ground at the same time. When you touch the ground, you are on only one foot at a time. When you push, it’s with just one leg. As a result, only one half of the big glute muscles can work when you run.

The three gluteal muscles play an important role in stabilizing your pelvis when you are on one leg. If there is any biomechanical dysfunction involving the gluteal musculature, the entire leg, including the hip, ITBand, hamstrings and quads, shins, ankles, and feet, can be affected.

What Do Butt Muscles Do?

The gluteal muscles make up the posterior pelvis. The major gluteal muscles are the gluteus maximus, medius, and minimus.

The gluteus maximus muscle is a hip extensor muscle. It pulls the leg back and propels the body forward during the gait cycle. That’s when you are on one leg. It is the biggest and strongest propulsion muscle in the body.

The gluteus medius and gluteus minimus muscles are hip abductor muscles that pull the leg up to the side. They are also important stabilization muscles that keep the pelvis and the trunk stable during the gait cycle.

Without strong and working glutes, there’s no support to the pelvis and no lift to the legs as we run. Everything becomes a push, leading to fatigue, pain, and injuries. With strong glutes, the legs work together and you can run forever.

Butt Muscle Dysfunction

Human beings are designed to stand, walk, run, and jump and, in the old days, hunt, and gather. We are dynamic machines. We should always be on the move.

However, instead of moving our bodies in the way they were designed, all of us sit, sit, and sit. Sure, you may run, but that’s less than 10% of your waking hours. We sit at school, and when we watch TV, drive, eat, and work at a computer. Many runners sit all day at a desk for work and then hit the road. No wonder half of us are injured at any one time.

Standing, walking, climbing, and running all engage the gluteal and abdominal musculature and lengthen the hip flexor muscles, the strong muscles on the front of the hip that pull the leg forward as you walk or run.

Sitting, however, tightens and shortens the hip flexors and inhibits, or turns off, the gluteal and abdominal musculature. Not a good thing, especially for runners. The glutes are no longer doing their job.

Mutual Stop & Go = Reciprocal Inhibition

Sherrington’s law explains how the muscles in your body work together. Contract a muscle on one side of a joint and the muscle on the opposite side of the joint receives a neurological signal to relax or release. When one set of muscles is stimulated, muscles opposing the action of the first set are simultaneously inhibited.

A clear example is the upper arm, where the biceps muscle and the triceps muscle are partners. When the biceps muscle contracts, the triceps muscle relaxes and vice versa. Without that reciprocity, lifting a glass or putting a book on a table and thousands of other movements wouldn’t happen.

Apply this concept to your pelvis area. Sitting tightens, shortens, and contracts the hip flexor muscle on the front of the hip (iliopsoas muscle) and its partner, the hip extensor muscle (gluteus maximus muscle), is relaxed or turned off. It won’t turn back on fully even when you get up and walk, climb, or run.

This lack of nerve communication among muscle groups is common to everyone, whether they are deskbound or elite athletes! Your butt muscles need direct neurological communication. There’s no way the big butt muscles will turn back on without a conscious effort on your part. Wake up your glutes by stretching through the muscles that are tight and contracted as well as strengthening all of the weakened muscles that have been ‘turned off’.

Reactivate the relationship between the glutes and the hip flexors and you will alleviate the pain associated with leg, ankle, and foot pain. When the gluteal muscles do the job that they are meant to do, you will gain running speed, strength, and stability.

Reactivate and Stabilize Your Butt Muscles

If you are struggling with leg issues, whether it is ITBand Syndrome, Runner’s Knee, Shin Splints, Achilles Tendinitis, Plantar Fasciitis, Morton’s Neuroma or any other leg, foot, or ankle issue, a major biomechanical contributor is a lack of pelvic stability. This pelvic instability translates to the upper and lower leg muscles, making them work harder, which ultimately leads to your lower and upper leg pain.

Stay away from squats and lunges for now. Doing these exercises with an unstable pelvis or wonky feet will only aggravate the problem. Build butt muscle strength in positions that won’t compromise the leg and lead to further stress of the lower leg. Once you have achieved strength and stability gains with the more supported, less dynamic exercises, you can then move on to squats and lunges.

Easy Glute Exercises

The first exercise is Standing Glute Squeezes, either in Wide Stance, with Parallel Feet, In-Line or even Seated or Supine Glute Squeezes. Squeeze your butt muscles or make an isometric contraction of your glutes in various positions as you go through the day.

Hold the squeeze for 5-10 seconds for a set of 10-15 while sitting at your desk, at a red light or standing in line. Build up to 3 sets of 10-15 contractions. Make this controlled connection in a static position, and then the contraction will be there for you during functional movements like walking or running.

Start these isometric butt muscle squeezes right away, even if you are in a repetitive strain injury crunch. Ease into other exercises for your glutes as the pain in your upper or lower legs begins to subside.

The proper working of the kinetic chain (see Tom Myers’ Anatomy Trains) that goes from your feet, up through your ankle, knee, and hip and further is vital in terms of stability for every person, but especially for runners. Equal importance must be placed on the stability and function of the pelvis and the core…. and in particular, the gluteal musculature.

Avoid repetitive strain injuries such as ITBand Syndrome, Runner’s Knee, Shin Splints, Achilles Tendinitis, Plantar Fasciitis, & Morton’s Neuroma. When the feet and the pelvis are both strong and stable, all of the musculature in between is less likely to be injured as it won’t have to work as hard to try and make up for a lack of stability.

Touch base with us for running tips to prevent injuries and for relief from current pain. Come in and get an Evaluation of your posture and running form. It will take just an hour of your time but it will make a difference in your moving overall and your running in particular. If running is as important to you as it is to us, take the time and come in to see us.

If you would like a copy of a series of more advanced glute exercises for runners and even for all the rest of us, leave a comment below!

Who’s writing this?

Bill Boland is a lifetime runner and an exercise physiologist based in New York, where he directs an alignment and movement practice, the BodyFix Method™, a straightforward program of exercise therapy to eliminate both chronic and traumatic pain.

 

 

 

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Fixing Your Posture is The No Pill Pain Remedy You Can Trust

Is your day filled with mysterious aches and pains? Do you feel that everything’s a push? Are you living your life on auto-pilot? Welcome to the “always on, always going” world we live in. Work and family keep us busy 24/7, and frankly, most of us don’t know where to start to get ourselves better. The usual response? Push through it. Don’t tough it out though. Chronic pain is a sign that something is off. Use that warning as motivation to change the way you move. It is as simple as your posture, the way you move, stand, and sit. Don’t make it more complicated than that.

What is posture really?

True postural alignment is the basis of pain-free and graceful movement. Each body’s alignment is different, but there are universal constants to good posture. For example, each of us has five visible up and down joints: ankles, knees, hips, shoulders, and “ears”. These joints should all line up or be close enough to call it safe. Most of us are lucky if two of the joints line up. That needs to change. If your postural alignment is off, your movement patterns will cause your body to suffer. Discomfort follows altered movement patterns. Pain will soon be an unwelcome constant. You will have to push through every activity, even ones you love.

Can exercise help?

The solution is easier and simpler than going to the gym twice a week, taking up running, swimming, yoga, Pilates, spinning, Zumba, or any other group or individual exercise activity in your area. Not one of these activities will take away the pain or your general feeling of slogging through the day. They are good escapes, but these programs can’t do the job of getting you better on their own. Unless your posture is where it should be, each of these activities will make your pain worse and increase your daily difficulties. You must fix your posture.

Exercise by itself, like going to the gym for aerobics or muscle strength, won’t fix your posture. It will only reinforce any structural misalignments that you have. If you have a forward head and rounded shoulders, running on a treadmill will hurt your neck and your low back. Without a cervical curve, the lumbar curve flattens. When the spine is without those curves, the pounding effect of your feet hitting the treadmill goes from 2.5 times your body weight to well over 4.5 times. Should you now move to the weight rack and go for the Kettlebells? No. Please don’t.

But I thought going to the Gym was good for me?

Unless you straighten out your rounded shoulders and forward head, any lifting will just reinforce the misalignments  you already have. What do you think is going to happen to your shoulders, neck, and low back when you start throwing 20+ pounds around overhead? Overhead work is hard and with joints out of line, it’s going to hurt.

Weight work demands mobility and good posture. Unless your posture is good, you should not do this. Your trainer is telling you that you can, but as well-meaning as he or she is, she doesn’t know what she doesn’t know. And what she doesn’t know is alignment. Most trainers think it’s about getting your muscles to lift the weight. However, that should not be the goal. The goal should be to focus on your personal control of the movement. Attention should be on getting your shoulders back to the design. Once that’s done, lifting and control are easy to maintain. But first, you need to fix your posture.

 

Over 90% of the brain’s activity is used to balance your body against gravity. Balance is managed by the autonomic nervous system and this in–the-background system runs best when the body’s joints are in line and able to work in the right plane. The more mechanically distorted a person is, the more work the body has to do to adjust and merely to stay upright. This means that there is less energy available for health, metabolism, and thought. Poor posture slows everything down and alters the natural workings of the body. Pain is one result of that distortion.

How do I fix it?

Let’s think about how you can change your life by changing how you sit, stand, and move. With a few quick fixes, you can take charge of your posture, change it, and energize your life. Adopt good posture and you will experience less tension in the neck and shoulders. A common type of headache (cervicogenic) that starts from the base of the skull has a substantially lower chance of happening. Rounded shoulders and a forward head can bring on these headaches.

Breathe easily and fully with an open chest and a diaphragm and lungs that truly work. With tucked under ribs, a direct result of rounded shoulders and a forward head, your chest can’t lift, so normal breathing is compromised. Every simple movement becomes labored.

Reduce your risk of low back pain and herniated discs. By walking around and sitting with a C-curve, it’s a guarantee that you will have back pain. Over 80% of Americans suffer back pain during some part of their day, but you don’t have to join them.

Shoulder pain is preventable. Rotator Cuff tears and Frozen Shoulders are unnecessary, avoidable, or never should happen, no matter what job you have or what weekend sport you play. Strengthen your upper back and shoulders, stop sitting with a slouch, eliminate stooping over, and don’t walk with your feet turned out.

Where do I start?

  • Static Back is your beginning exercise and go to position on the floor. Do it everyday forever, but start with everyday for two weeks. Spend 20 minutes lying on your back, no cellphone, no TV, just letting your body’s muscles and joints unwind. All you need is a little patience, a chair, and the floor, equipment all of us have. Put a paperback under your head to level it out and take pressure off your neck.
  • Static Back Pullovers is a simple back-and-forth arm and shoulder exercise that will open your rounded chest and free your neck and shoulders. It may add an inch to your height but it will certainly give you better breathing plus an arm and shoulder range of motion that you haven’t had in years.
  • Hip Crossover wrings out the rotation in your hips and gets your upper and lower body to work together, not fighting each other with every step.
  • Upper Spinal Floor Twist will remove the forward or backward rotation in your torso, neck, and shoulders, allowing your ribs and chest to relax, open up, and move with your lower body.
  • Bent Knee Pillow Squeezes will build inner leg strength and get your legs and feet to move straight ahead, not out to the side with no power.
  • Pelvic Tilts is an exercise that teaches your pelvis to move through flexion and extension, not just remain stuck in one position.

It’s that easy?

That’s it. This simple series of daily exercises will fix your posture in a few weeks. Will you then be perfect? Will everything then work as it did when you were young? No, but you are on your way to moving gracefully and without pain and to living up to your body’s full potential.

For a copy of these exercises, each with pictures and clear directions, please leave your name and email on the Contact form below. We’ll send out a program for you to follow. Rid yourself of nagging pain, look better, and move better. It is up to you.

Would you like to have a professional evaluation before you start? Just give us a call or go to the website and book yourself in for an Initial Evaluation. It will take less than an hour of your time, but it is worth its weight in gold.

Take the step. Quick Fix your posture. You will be amazed at how simple and easy it is. Fixing your posture, getting your body in alignment, can be the answer to reducing injury and pain.

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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Chronic Pain, Not Just for Computer Users

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is a common chronic pain issue for many members of our society. The carpal tunnel—a narrow, rigid passageway of ligament and bones at the base of the hand—houses the median nerve and the tendons that bend the fingers. CTS results from the swelling of the median nerve that runs on the palm side of the wrist through the carpal tunnel of the wrist

Symptoms can include numbness, weakness, tingling, and pain. It becomes difficult to open and close the hand and the wrist itself becomes limited in range of movement. The good news is that Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a soft tissue injury, and soft tissue injuries usually require six weeks for complete healing unless there are complications. That assumes that you don’t ignore it but deal with the problem as soon as the hand pain occurs.

It is often thought of as an issue for those who spend extra time at the computer, but evidence suggests that line of work isn’t a driving force behind CTS. A recent article cited a 2013 study listing the occupations of individuals diagnosed with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, from highest CTS events to lowest. At the top of the list were “freight movers”, followed by nearly every other job imaginable. “Labor” seems to be at the heart of CTS symptoms.

A short list of CTS sufferers built from my personal experience would include musicians, hairdressers, massage therapists; sculptors; cashiers; secretaries; baristas; ice cream or gelato scoopers; woodworkers and carpenters; sheetrock, tile, and carpet installers; jewelry makers and designers; nurses; and house painters. And that’s just my personal list. Whether one is sitting at a desk all day, sewing, playing music, or changing tires, CTS can affect people working in all types of employment.

What actually causes CTS?

Evidence suggests that there is a connection between CTS and autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis and hypothyroidism as well as metabolic issues like diabetes. These disorders can impact the swelling of tissues that surround the tendons and ligaments, which then compress the medial nerve. Many studies have also cited poor physical fitness as a contributing factor.

Barring other medical conditions and assuming a CTS sufferer is in relatively good health, why would 3% of men and 5% of women struggle with CTS?

In a word: posture. In last week’s blog, Anita showed that the position of the shoulders governs the strength and comfort of the hands. With CTS, the ligaments of the forearm tighten and compress the “tunnel” that houses the median nerve. The tightening of the forearm is the result of shoulders that are out of alignment. This, in turn, weakens the strength and mobility of the forearms and wrists.

Shoulders that are rounded, winging, flared or otherwise impinged can easily affect performance down the arm. The nerve associated with CTS can be aggravated anywhere along its path from the neck to the hand… so it is NOT just your wrist/forearm. Overuse is not the problem. The body is capable of tremendous feats of endurance when moving properly. Misuse is a problem.

How do you get relief?

Last week’s blog cites an easy test that can help you determine if your shoulders are out of alignment. Have a friend take a set of photos of you standing in profile. Shoot both your right and left side. Your arms should fall along the profile line of your body, with your middle fingers extending along the outer seam of your pants. If your hands rest closer to your lap, then it’s likely that your shoulders are forward and out of position.

Comment below to receive easy exercises to help reset your shoulders and open your forearms and wrists. It takes time to reduce the compression from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, but relief is on the way if the shoulders are aligned and your back muscles are strengthened. Proper movement promotes healing.

 

Easy Carpal Tunnel Program:

Part One:

Bent Knee Resting Position

Shoulder Shrugs at Wall

Forearm Stretch at Wall

Easy Shoulder Reset

 

Part Two:

Standing Wall Clock

Supine Groin Stretch (Rolls)

Air Bench (Pillow)

 

Elaine O’Brien

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