Is your doctor still handing out pain meds like they're the only solution that works for back pain? Well, I’m here to tell you that you have other options that are safer! Today, I'll be starting a conversation about how your hip/pelvic area becomes uneven, and what you can do about it. Over the next few weeks, I’ll share more information and different exercises with you. A few simple exercises can get you back on track and make that pain in your back go away. More importantly, once you know what caused your back or hip pain, you can prevent it from coming back again!
I have been coaching people with back pain for several years now and what I have seen is that a large majority of back pain is caused by something off balance in your body posture/movements. That could mean that you have one hip that’s higher than the other, perhaps due to a broken ankle from years ago, or a knee replacement surgery more recently. Or, perhaps, you have a tight piriformis muscle from biking, driving a lot, or some other activity, which is causing the back side of your pelvic area to be uneven. Your psoas muscle can do the same thing around the front of your body, and sitting at your computer all day can cause that to tighten. And don’t get me talking about those tight quads! The good news is that there are some simple exercises that can stretch and then strengthen those muscles so that your unevenness not only goes away, but doesn’t come back again! Pain meds can’t do that.
We’ll start with hips. If you have one hip that’s higher than the other, you’ll be standing and walking off balance, and because it’s subtle, you won’t even realize it. This makes your lower back suffer the consequences – OUCH! If you have not seen a physical therapist for your back pain, ask your doctor for a referral and set up an appointment as soon as possible. A PT has the tools to measure your body in many ways, will let you know exactly what your imbalance is, and will get you started on exercises to get you back into alignment. This is something I recommend on a regular basis to my clients and students, and everyone has been able to get a referral, and see a physical therapist. This is usually covered by your health insurance, so take advantage of it.
In today’s video, I demonstrate a simple stretch that can take care of that hip imbalance. It’s easy to do and you’ll see results fairly quickly. I recommend a minute on the side that’s giving you the trouble – the hip that’s sore or doesn’t feel right, and a little less time on the other side. Always stretch both sides, but go a bit longer on the side that’s off.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. I’ll be happy to help in any way that I can.
Best of Health,
Let's spend a few minutes looking for Dory on the bottom of the sea! Yes, you heard that right.
This exercise is called "Sea Weed Legs" and it's a fun way to remove the tension in your lower back. You can even do it with the grandkids for a fun activity to share; they'll love it!
Start out lying on the floor, on your back, with your feet flat and knees bent.
Lengthen your spine and relax your shoulders.
Breathe deeply as you gently raise both legs straight up into the air, feet toward the sky.
Pretend you are lying on your back, on the floor of the ocean.
Let the current gently move your legs around. They can go back and forth, side to side, or move around in any way you feel the current is going, as long as it’s slight, and gentle.
This feels really good and it’s fun to imagine all the fish swimming by – Nemo, Dory, Sponge Bob…
Continue breathing deeply and moving your legs gently for one to two minutes.
Then roll over into a fetal position on your side so that you can easily push yourself back up into a seated position with your hands and arm.
We are all so very busy and rarely take the time to just relax our back like this, but It’s so good for us!
We should take the time to relax our backs at least a couple of times a week.
Try this one once week and then try Legs Up The Wall next time.
Here’s a video of Legs Up The Wall. Do it with me now and see for yourself how lovely it feels!
Best of Health,
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,
HERE is a link to a report that reinforces what other studies have proven how taking some exercise time in nature benefits our mood and brain. Ned and I went for a long hike last weekend and I felt soooooo much better afterward. I was glad that he insisted we get outside!
Get outside and exercise! In this recent study, researchers investigated whether spending time in nature affects rumination, and they found that hiking in nature decreases these obsessive, negative thoughts. Cool – we can all use more positive thoughts…
In this study, researchers compared the reported rumination of participants who hiked through an urban environment and a nature environment. They found that those who walked for 90 minutes in a natural environment, a grassland near Stanford University, reported lower levels of rumination and also had reduced neural activity in the subgenual prefrontal cortex, which is associated with mental illness. Those who walked through an urban environment didn’t enjoy these benefits.
These researchers indicate that our world is becoming more and more urban and that urbanization is linked to depression and other forms of mental illness. Visibly, simply removing us from an urban environment to spend time outdoors where there are fewer mental stressors, less noise, and fewer distractions can be advantageous for our mental health.
In another study by Ruth Ann Atchley and David L. Strayer, creative problem solving was improved by disconnecting from technology and reconnecting with nature. In this study, participants hiked while backpacking in nature for approximately four days and they were prohibited from using technology. They were asked to perform tasks requiring creativity and complex problem solving. They found that those immersed in the hiking excursions had increased performance on problem-solving tasks by 50 percent. Wow!
Not to mention that we all know the benefits of walking/hiking for osteoporosis prevention.
So get out there and “take a hike!” And then when you come home, relax your spine with this simple Yoga inversion.
Best of Health,