Is there such a thing as a “too tight butt”? I couldn't resist asking that one, but the answer is, YES; especially when one cheek is tighter than the other. Perhaps you have a diagnosis of Piriformis Syndrome? Well, that's what this diagnosis means. Your piriformis muscle on one side is tighter than on the other side, and when that happens, your whole pelvic area is out of sync. The piriformis is a thick muscle that runs very close to your sciatic nerve. So, when it tenses up, it sometimes presses on your sciatic nerve, causing pain that radiates down your whole leg. YIKES!
My uncle Stanley got sciatica sometime during his retirement and his doctor told him there was nothing he could do except to take pain pills. Sciatic pain can be debilitating. I watched an active, vital man shrivel up and die in about 18 months. Uncle Stanley’s experience is one of the reasons I started coaching people with back pain. He could have been helped through exercise but both he and his doctor were older and set in their ways…
Today's exercise will help you stretch the piriformis muscle and take the pressure right off that sciatic nerve!
As always, don’t hesitate to ask any questions, or about more modifications. I am happy to respond.
And think about getting someone on your holiday gift list a gift certificate for personalized coaching for their chronic pain, or Reiki healing sessions. Contact me for more information.
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,
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,
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,