Wednesday, January 8th, 2014 at
Walking is great exercise, especially for those who want to improve their fitness levels, but have back pain. It could, however, leave you feeling tired and even a little stiff if you aren't using correct posture and movements. And if you have a little sciatic nerve pain you don't want to aggravate that pesky piriformis muscle!
So first, make sure you start walking slowly to warm up your muscles. Then complete a few simple stretches:
- Use a tree or pole to help keep your balance if you need to. Grab your left foot with your left hand and stretch the front of your thigh (quads) for about 30 seconds on each side.
- Next, place your foot on a bench or rock, gently lean forward and stretch the back of each leg (hamstrings) for 30 seconds.
Now you are ready for your walk!
Start out slow and gradually pick up the pace. Make sure that your shoulders are squared, head up, and you are starting each step from your hip. It takes a little concentration, but once you get a rhythm going it is easier to keep going longer and longer with proper movements. You'll be surprised how much easier your walk feels when you use good body mechanics.
Slow down again for a minute or two before stopping your walk, and repeat your stretches to keep your muscles from tightening up on you.
Here is a video of the perfect after walk stretch. Enjoy!
Best of Health,
Tuesday, December 17th, 2013 at
If you live in New England and were out there shoveling this week, did you make sure to take care of your back? I did and I'm glad because I'm not walking around crooked today like the two guys I saw at the post office this morning!
It's so important to take care of yourself, yet when a big storm hits, many of us forget things like making sure to switch the direction of your throw every few minutes, taking plenty of breaks and drinking plenty of water. I also don't lift anything that doesn't need to be lifted. I have one of those curved shovels so if it's light snow, like we getting today, you can push it along instead of picking it up. Even when it's as deep as your knees, you can push a layer out of the way and then another, etc. It may take a few extra minutes, but when you're snowed in, you have all day to shovel anyway. Think of how much happier your back will be!
Today's post contains links to a couple of videos that will help those of you who did too much shoveling and didn't take enough breaks!
The first is the relaxation technique from my Amazon international bestselling book STOP Back Pain. I highly recommend taking five minutes every day for this one - It's easy and your back will thank you!
The second video is an exercise that I recommend to help stretch all the muscles surrounding your hip and lower back; to take some of the pressure off your sciatic nerve. Try it - you'll like it.
Best of Health,
Tuesday, December 10th, 2013 at
I know that both Oprah and my sister will be very unhappy with this recommendation, but high heels are not good for our backs, so you should avoid wearing them. There, I said it. Lightning did not strike me down, nor did the roof cave in!
These may be pretty, but your back will say - OUCH!
For proper posture and alignment, wear heels no higher than one inch. I’m happy with this recommendation because I’ve always been very uncomfortable in three or four inch heels. I know many women who feel naked without their high heels; the problem is that high heels not only throw off your posture and alignment, but they can cause foot injuries as well, which then aggravates back pain. Even the Mayo clinic recommends against high heels. Today, all the doctors I know recommend pumps or a similar shoe with a small heel to avoid these problems.
Here's a lovely pair with a lower heel...
Now, if you have a special occasion coming up – holiday party or family dinner out, and you feel heels are necessary, wear them and try not to walk very far in them. It’s good not to feel deprived. Just don’t wear high heels to work every day!
Best of Health,
Thursday, November 14th, 2013 at
Are you having sciatic nerve pain in your lower back that sometimes radiates down your leg and you find it impossible to sit down comfortably? Relief is on the way!
The sciatic nerve is actually three nerve endings that exit the base of your spinal column, travel across your buttocks, then down the backs of your legs, which means there are several thick muscles surrounding it. When these muscles tighten up too much or too fast, putting pressure on the sciatic nerve, you’ll be in pain. The hamstrings and the piriformis muscles are the biggest culprits, but don’t worry, there’s an easy fix. It’s called Sitting Pigeon.
Sitting Pigeon is a modified Sleeping Pigeon that can be done while sitting in a chair or any time that you can’t or don’t want to get down on the floor. It can be done easily while sitting in a meeting or working at your desk.
- First, sit tall in your chair with both feet flat on the floor and relax your shoulders. You may need to sit forward a little in the chair to have your feet flat.
- Then rest your right ankle over your left thigh. Make sure you don’t have the ankle resting on your knee.
- Now, take hold of the seat of your chair with both hands and lean forward with a flat back. You’ll feel the stretch in your right hip, thigh and buttocks.
- Breathe deeply for one to two minutes, then switch legs.
This is especially recommended for times when you have to sit in long meetings. It will help keep those muscles stretched so that they don’t tense up on you. Repeat every hour.
Make sure to breathe deeply as well. This helps to send fresh oxygenated blood throughout your body – a welcome treat when you’re sitting for a long while.
Best of Health
Tuesday, October 15th, 2013 at
Our bones are strong and healthy through childhood and as young adults, but as we hit middle age, they slowly begin to thin out. For us women, menopause usually accelerates this process. There are ways to put on the brakes, however, and one of the best lines of defense is your diet -- eating the right foods can give you maximum bone mass and boost your bone density at any age.
Everyone knows that calcium is essential for bone health, but do you know what foods are good sources of calcium – other than milk? You might be surprised to learn that calcium is plentiful in many vegetables. Go for greens such as bok choy, Chinese cabbage, and kale. The traditional soul food favorites, collard and turnip greens, offer a lot of calcium, too. One cup of chopped, cooked turnip greens has about 200 milligrams of calcium. Milk and dairy products are not the only ways to get your calcium. Another excellent source is sardines. All those little fish bones have just what you need to build bone mass. Eating 3 ounces of canned sardines delivers more calcium than a cup of milk. My favorite fish, salmon, is another great source of bone-boosting nutrients. Salmon and other fatty fish contain calcium as well as vitamin D, which helps with calcium absorption. And fish oil supplements have been shown to reduce bone loss and help prevent osteoporosis. If sardines and collard greens don’t float your boat, try adding fortified foods to your diet. These are products that do not naturally contain calcium but have been enhanced with this essential mineral. For instance, fortified orange juice has up to 240 milligrams of calcium, and fortified cereals deliver up to 1,000 milligrams per cup. You can use fortified soy mile with fruit and nuts at breakfast. Check the nutritional labels of everything you purchase, and enjoy healthy bones throughout your life!
Best of Health,