So many people with back and or neck pain, and so many options for relief that they have not been told about...
It’s frustrating when you go your doctor, get an examination and a referral to a specialist, then go through more test and exams with that doc – sometimes after waiting months for your appointment, and then get yet another referral to a surgeon who then does more tests…
I have been saying for years “you DON”T have to live with back pain!”
My STOP Back Pain book, as well as my DVD and programs, have helped hundreds of people so far, and I’m aiming for thousands!
I have a good friend who suffered with back pain, went through months of docs, tests, etc., and then had surgery, but still has the same pain! She now says she would not have chosen to have the surgery if she’d known it would not heal her pain.
Unfortunately, her story is one I have heard over and over; but people are afraid of treatments that are not covered under their insurance. They have listened to their doctors tell them that there is no proof any of the complimentary modalities work. Notice I used the word “complimentary,” not alternative. There is so MUCH “anecdotal” proof for these complimentary therapies, in fact, that they cannot be called anecdotal any more, but because your doc did not learn about these modalities in medical school, in his or her mind, they do not exist. What a shame. I explain many of these therapies in my book. But some doctors are beginning to realize this, seeing the evidence, and some are even recommending things like acupuncture, chiropractic, Pilates or Yoga. Things are changing, just not very fast.
With that said, modern medical technology is amazing and can help a person get a definitive diagnosis, so don’t ditch your doc quite yet! Just remember that you are the head of your medical team and coordinating your care is part of the job you must do to get well.
I’ve had clients come into one of my Pilates classes so frightened of making their pain worse that they were literally shaking in their shoes. Chronic pain, especially back pain, is my specialty though, and I understand how to calm beginners and modify the exercises for them, so that they begin to feel better and eventually are not afraid and then we can begin to heal their pain.
As for the science behind what I do, here’s a study which showed improved core strength and stability, posture and balance, and fewer pain symptoms in people with chronic lower back pain, who took Pilates classes three times a week for 14 weeks. I have seen people’s back pain reduced with only one class a week, and one suggested exercise in between. It takes longer, maybe six months or so, but it can be done – WITHOUT SURGERY OR OPIODS!
Another study showed that a Pilates exercise program reduced back pain more than other interventions. This particular study looked at 128 scholarly articles on the topic, chose 29 to use in their analysis, and concluded “We found that there is a dearth of studies that clearly demonstrate the efficacy of a specific Pilates exercise program over another in the treatment of chronic pain. However, the consensus in the field suggests that Pilates method is more effective than minimal physical exercise intervention in reducing pain.”
I agree. Pilates does help.
I also use Yoga exercises for my clients with great success. All Yoga and Pilates exercises can be modified to help people who are stiff and sore, who haven’t worked out in a long time, who are in pain and/or scared of exacerbating their pain. Relief is possible!
Please don’t simply take any old Pilates class, however. There are some out there who have taken a weekend training course and then go forth and teach Pilates classes. These people are not really trained. ALWAYS check your instructor’s credentials. If you have questions about their certifications, drop me a note and I’ll happily check for you. There are some GREAT certification programs out there now, and I’ll be happy to look at your instructors and let you know if they have had sufficient training to help you.
If you’d like to work with me either in person, or via SKYPE, please contact me HERE.
Best of Health,
I am always so pleased when one of my students "finds" their Serratus Anterior muscles. This muscle wraps around your bottom ribs and it's one that we do not use in our regular day to day activities, but one that is so important for keeping our spines aligned and preventing back pain! I'm sure we used it more when we were hunters and gatherers, but in today's world, not so much!
I work this muscle hard in my beginners Pilates classes and I use it in my coaching, as well, due to the effect it has on our posture. When this muscle is strong, it's so much easier to stand up tall. And when you can stand and sit taller, you also begin using other muscles along the spine as they were designed to be used. You'll notice faster improvement when you work out, and you'll breathe easier and feel better.
Standing up tall does not mean sucking in your gut, pushing your shoulders back and your chest out. This is what I was taught in school, it's the way military personnel are taught. Yet, it's completely wrong according to what we now know about the health of our spine. How many of us gals were taught, as little tykes in dance lessons, to tuck in our pelvis? I know that back in the day, teachers believed that's what would protect our back, but we know better now. Sucking in that gut and tucking the pelvis causes us to lose that lovely little curve in our lower back and we need that curve for proper alignment! Standing or walking with a tucked pelvis on a regular basis can cause our lumbar disks to become damaged (bulging, herniation, etc.)
And how many have neck and shoulder issues right now? Check your shoulders when you are doing a routine task and see if you are tensing them or wearing them as earmuffs. I can't walk through a store or down a busy street without seeing a large percentage of people tensing their shoulders to walk, fold clothes, or ring up a purchase. Totally unnecessary. In fact, walking and working become easier when you can learn to relax your shoulders!
Good posture is much more important than most of us think. That pain in your back or neck can be caused by, or at the very least is exacerbated by, poor posture. So, what's a gal (or guy) to do?
- Stand in front of a mirror normally. Concentrate on raising your rib cage up toward your head as you inhale. (easier to do it on an inhale at first) Now, notice how your spine has lengthened, your stomach has reduced in size a bit and your shoulders have squared automatically.
- Turn sideways in the mirror and do it again. Notice the same things. But also notice that when you do this, your lower back curve remains, it's not forced backwards.
Now you are truly "Standing Tall" as our bodies are designed to do. No tensing of shoulders, not harming the lower back, just plain old good posture.
Practice this whenever you think about it, until it becomes second nature to you, to both inhale and exhale with a lovely long spine.
Best of health,
Rushing through your Holiday Season?
Want to make this December a little bit less stressful and feel less overwhelmed and overwrought by the end of the year?
Spend THREE minutes a day doing this and you'll reduce all that tension and stress, relax all the muscles in your back and neck, dissolve tension and arrive on Jan 1st pain free!
Keep those muscles in good health and avoid the pain and strain with this simple exercise!
Best of Health,
My friend Dianna Mullane and I are launching our enchanting, stress relieving, adult coloring book, "A Coloring Book For Women - 30 Divine Designs." Dianna and I have just completed this project of love and we're so excited to share it with you today!
"A Coloring Book For Women - 30 Divine Designs," was written by, and for, women. This is different from any of the others that I have found in bookstores or on Amazon. We wanted to provide something more; something informative, something that would be a way to connect with our inner child again. According to this review on Amazon, we have been successful!
"I tried adult coloring books before, but the designs were busy, geometric designs that I found difficult to color. Those types of coloring books actually ended up frustrating me more than anything! But, "A Coloring Book For Women, 30 Divine Designs," is very different; the designs that Kathi Casey and Dianna Mullane have chosen are lovely and FUN to color! After all, that's why we want to color again, right? To feel the joy we did as children when we sat down to color. I love this book and can't recommend it enough!" -- Jane
The book is available on Amazon, (go take a sneak peek) and also HERE on my website, where, for the same price, we'll include a box of colored pencils to get you started. Each design in our book has a description that will inspire, empower, or simply bring a smile to your face.
If you are starting your holiday shopping this week, please consider our simple, inexpensive stress relief, for all the women on your list (including you!).
Here's what people are saying about our coloring book:
"This book is GORGEOUS! I've seen plenty of adult coloring books, but this one tops them all! Calm and pleasant designs to color that don't make my head explode! I love it. No complicated geometric designs; instead, lovely designs that have meaning for women and are truly a meditative and soothing experience to engage with. This really is a coloring book for all women. I especially love the depiction of Pinga, an Inuit goddess of fertility, medicine, and the hunt. She is surrounded by two beautiful swans. I highly recommend this book!"Estra Roell
"A Coloring Book for Women: 30 Divine Designs" is a dream come true. An adult coloring book created just for women! The pictures are incredibly creative and inspiring. There are descriptions with each design that help you think, and contemplate your own inner path. It is a fantastic addition to the adult coloring book world. I highly recommend "A Coloring Book For Women: 30 Divine Designs." A great gift for the holidays!!!" Elizabeth Helming
Best of Health,
Sleeping well at night is difficult when you have back pain, however, it is SO important for healing!
Many of us also know that some of our daily habits can cause this lack of sleep, but we still don't attempt to change!
Sleep is important - we all know that. When we don't get enough sleep, not only does it make us grumpy and out of sorts, but chronic lack of sleep can cause memory issues, premature wrinkling, and even interfere with our ability to metabolize our foods, affecting weight gain/loss. Yikes!
Prolonged lack of sleep can also disrupt your immune system, causing you to catch every cold that floats past your nose.
If you are one of the estimated 1 in 3 Americans that don't get enough sleep, here are a few tips:
- Turn off your computer, TV, etc., an hour before bedtime! This is important, yet most people that I know don't take advantage of this simple tip. For your own health and safety, please consider doing this.
- Have a regular bedtime. Go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day. This is another difficult one for many people.
- Eating a big meal less than two hours before bed is going to make your body work too hard at digesting that meal to be able to concentrate on sleep. So, if you know you'll be arriving home late, plan a larger lunch and have a small, lighter meal when you get home.
- Getting plenty of exercise during the day (not before bed) also helps the body to sleep better at night.
- And here's a quick breathing exercise that can help you get to sleep. Give it a try for five minutes before bed tonight, and let me know how it worked for you!
Best of Health,
It’s hard to believe that summer's nearly over. College kids are heading back or have already started, and the beach is much less crowded this week. Did I blink and miss summer?
Not only is the best time of year here in the Berkshires almost gone, but I have not exercised like I normally do during the summer months, and find I'm a bit flabby. No weight gain, but a bit of muscle loss - Yikes! This is a very different pattern for me and one I do not hope to repeat.
This past weekend, I attempted to make up for lost time. While visiting friends in the Adirondacks, we kayaked, swam, and biked - all in 1 day! Here's a photo of me out on my bike for the first time this summer...
How about you? Have you done any walking, biking, swimming or other aerobic exercise since the nice weather arrived? If so Way To Go! If not, want to join me in a 30 day challenge?
I've done them a few times and know many others who have also done them. It's a quick way to get back into shape after the holidays, or in my case, after a summer of not keeping up with the program! They work as long as you keep it up for the whole 30 days, so let's get started today!
Here's a video of my plan:
Best of Health,
Another Article, this week, about knee injuries in Baby Boomers, and how exercise can help many of us avoid surgery.
I won't go on a rant about how Western medicine is all about the money generated for big pharma and unnecessary surgeries. Instead, I will tell you about a knee strengthening exercise that I have been teaching my clients and students for the last few years which has helped many of them avoid knee surgery. At the very least, it can reduce pain and strengthen your knees.
When I showed this exercise to my friend Dr. Carolyn Dean, several years back, she termed them, "Super Squats," and I've kept that name because the results are, "SUPER!"
As the above article says, meniscal tears affect many of us at some point in our lives. A meniscal tear happens when there is damage to the cushioning that surrounds the knee. Most orthopedic surgeons agree that the size of the tear matters, but for many of us Baby Boomers, this happens after many years of normal wear and tear, and not due to a football injury.
What I have found is that the exercises we are given, like normal squats, strengthen the muscles above or below your knee, but not many strengthen the muscles on the sides of the knee. This is the key problem; we need an exercise that does both. Voila, Super Squats to the rescue! In case you haven't figured that out yet, I love this exercise!!!! I think it should be taught to kids in school as part of the regular PE curriculum, for healthier knees as we age.
Everyone that does this exercise consistently improves the condition and strength of their knees. It takes only a few minutes to do and just about everyone can do it, with or without modifications.
Super Squats strengthen ALL the muscles surrounding your knee. This makes the knee more stable so that ordinary walking does not wear or tear as much; also, when you step off a curb or onto an uneven surface, the knee is more stable and less likely to twist out of alignment.
I recommend doing this at least three times a week. If you are currently in pain, try it daily for a couple of weeks, and then, after you feel better, go to three times a week.
Also, make sure to look at the photos in the description on Youtube to see placement of feet to prevent over extension of knees while doing a squat.
If you'd like to work with me privately, for this and other exercises, let's set up a time to chat about your personal health and wellness, what you'd like to achieve, and how to get there! Hit reply or send me an e-mail here.
Best of Health,
Are you afraid to get down on the floor because you can't get up?
No worries! Here's a safe, simple and stable way to get both up and down on the floor.
Now you can play with your grandkids on their level!
Remember to keep your feet apart like mine are on the video.
If they are too close together, you will not as stable.
Best of Health,
I am excited to say that I have planted my garden this year BEFORE Memorial Day! Can't remember ever doing that before; hope that means an early and fruitful harvest...
Spring is gardening time in the Berkshires and, once again this year, most of my friends and neighbors are walking around with stiff backs from all the weeding, tilling, planting, etc. Each spring I find time to remind everyone of the single most important way to help your back when you know you have done too much - RELAX!
This is the only position which will relax all the muscles along your spine at the same time. Do it every day for at least 5 minutes to reduce that tension and give your back a break. You'll be glad you did!
Make sure that your butt is right up against the couch, with your calves resting on the seat of the couch. If your neck is arched up, you can place a small pillow or folded towel under your head (not under the neck) so your neck is also resting. If you want more information on how to prevent back pain, click HERE!
Best of Health,
Yes, it does. When you are overweight, many physical symptoms show up in addition to those that obvious like diabetes and heart disease. Back pain, cancer, hip and knee damage...
Being overweight or obese can significantly contribute to symptoms associated with osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, and spondylolisthesis.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 36 percent of Americans are considered obese and an additional 34 percent are considered overweight. This is an alarming statistic because that's 70% of the population...!? I did my own local survey, during a break from my classes at the senior center; I walked around and counted the number of people here that appeared to be overweight. Of the 61 people here, at least 37 appeared overweight or obese. That's 60%, YIKES! Double Yikes!
The National Cancer Institute estimates that obesity contributes to 34,000 new cases of cancer in men and 50,000 in women each year. But if every adult reduced their BMI by 1 percent - a loss of roughly 2.2 pounds - about 100,000 new cases of cancer could be avoided, according to the agency's website.
One recent study of former military servicemen found that as their BMI increased, so did their incidence of radiating lower back pain.
What about helping ourselves? Are you as healthy as you'd like to be? Are you overweight? Would you like to do something about it?
I see many people in my classes, or coaching that are attempting to lose weight. Most want to lose 10-15 lbs. Only a few want to lose more than that. Many don't realize that their back pain may be associated with their weight.
If you have a desire to lose weight, reduce back pain, take better care of your knees and and hips, then make the commitment! This is important. Find something that works for you - even if it's only once a week. That first baby step is crucial. Once you begin to feel more energy, you'll want to experience that more often and you'll make time during your busy day for a few more bits of exercise. As little as three, 10 minute exercise breaks during your day can bring huge benefits. Here are my top recommendations for the best way to spend 10 minutes when you want to lose weight:
- Brushing Teeth - an excellent time to march in place, bringing those knees up as high as you can, then lunge walk around the house as you select your clothes for the day, put breakfast dishes in the dishwasher, etc.
- Morning coffee break - instead of that muffin and coffee, walk around the block, then grab a cup of coffee (sans muffin) to take back to your desk.
- Lunch break - eat a kitchen sink salad with lots of dark greens, tomatoes, avocado, apple or pear, and a few nuts. This gives you plenty of energy, and takes about 15 minutes to eat, giving you another ten minute break to walk.
- After dinner - Do some stretching of both your piriformis muscle and hamstring. Here is a video to demonstrate this one.