"How to Practice Yoga Without Wrecking Your Body"
by Lee Albert NMT
A recent NY Times article (How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body) is warning us about the dangers of yoga. There are a number of good points in the article about inversions and stretching too deeply into postures. The article goes on to describe various injuries many people suffer while practicing yoga.This even includes some quite accomplished yogis. The article concludes that the vast majority of people should give up yoga altogether.
While I agree with much of what is said in the article, I have come to a much different conclusion.
"One-Third Of Americans Experience Chronic Pain"
by Lee Albert NMT
A third of all Americans -- more than 116 million people -- live with longlasting, chronic pain, according to a new report from the Institute of Medicine. That is more than all the people who have heart disease, diabetes and cancer, combined.
Chronic pain is defined as pain lasting for 30 to 60 days, and that has an impact on personal and professional life, TIME reported. The costs of chronic pain are up to $635 billion a year, when adding up treatment costs and money lost from decreased productivity, according to the report.
Wrist pain usually due to repetitive strain injury is the most prevalent occupational illness today according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI), whether in the workplace or at home, are growing at an unprecedented rate. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employers in the United States spend more than $8 billion on compensation costs and even more than that on medical treatments, lawsuits and lost productivity due to RSI.
"Wrist Pain: A Growing Epidemic"
by Lee Albert, NMT
"How to Relieve Wrist Pain"
by Lee Albert, NMT
Are you frustrated that your wrist pain just does not seem to go away? Are the drugs from the doctor or the exercises from the physical therapist not helping? Do you finally want to know what to do about your wrist pain?
The solution is really quite simple. You have to treat the cause of the pain and not the symptom. Most therapists and doctors are treating your symptom. Now, don't get me wrong. That can sometimes help, but it is usually temporary help, because they have not eliminated the cause of the pain. Drugs are treating your symptom, not the cause.
"Breathe Correctly to Reduce Pain"
by Lee Albert, NMT
In an excellent article (The Five Healing Benefits of Breath), the author reminds us about the importance of breathing fully, slowly and steadily. The article describes some of the benefits of healthy breathing as calming the mind, cleaning toxins and reducing pain in the body.
Most people take breathing for granted. Usually we do not give it much thought. Breathing, however is the most significant activity that we do because it gives us the most important nutrient required for life: oxygen.
Low Back Pain?
by Lee Albert NMT
Here is a tip.
In my 25 years of helping people to live a pain free life, I have observed that 60-70% of the low back pain that I treat is originating with tight, short muscles on the front side of the body. These muscles are the quadriceps and the psoas.
Let me explain how muscles that do not hurt (quads & psoas) are causing pain on the other side of the body (low back). The quads & psoas are hip flexor muscles, which in a nutshell help you to bend forward. When these muscles are too short, and tight they then pull your pelvis forward. This tilting of the pelvis causes a compression in the low back and the resulting pain. That pain you feel is the symptom, but the cause is often the hip flexor muscles.
To test if your low back pain is caused by tight hip flexor muscles, lie down flat on your back. This position will often make it feel worse after a while. Then bend your knees so that your feet are flat on the floor. This will take the strain off the quadriceps and psoas. Does that make your back feel better? If it did, then you have tight hip flexors.
Bending your knees will help with your symptom, but to correct the cause you must start to stretch your quadriceps. An easy runners stretch will do. From a standing position, reach back and grab your ankle. Pull the heel of that foot towards your butt. You should feel the stretch on the front part of the thigh. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side. Be careful not to stretch too deeply. If the stretch is hurting your back or knee, it is too deep. Do this exercise about 5 times a day until your back starts feeling better. This can sometimes take a couple of weeks or more.
It is also extremely critical that you do not stretch your hamstrings, as that is counterproductive. When the pelvis is tilted forward the hamstrings will feel real tight, but they are an over stretched tight. Think of an over stretched rubber band. It is tight, but stretching it actually makes it tighter.
Consistent, gentle stretching of the quadriceps often will dramatically reduce or eliminate your low back pain. If the pain still persists, see your health care provider to gain more insight into your condition.
You can read more about low back pain and many other conditions in my book Live Pain Free without Drugs or Surgery available on Amazon.com.
"Five Fitness & ExerciseTips for Healthy Aging"
by Lee Albert, NMT
Have you ever been told that you should expect aches and pains because you're getting older?
Well, don't believe it.
One of my clients came to me complaining of low back pain. Her doctor had examined her and ordered an MRI. The MRI revealed nothing significant. The doctor told her that she should expect this sort of thing as she was now getting older.
She didn't look very old to me. I asked her, How old are you? 29, she said. OK, I said, maybe you want to find another doctor.
I treated her for low back pain that was due to muscle imbalances in the hip flexors and her pain went away almost immediately.
The truth is most people do have more pain as they age but it is not because they are older but because they have had their muscle imbalances for a longer time. These imbalances pull the bones out of alignment resulting in various aches, pains and conditions.
I am 62 years young and I have very few aches and pains. At 42 I had a lot of aches and pains, not because I was older but because I didn't know how to correct my muscle imbalances and I wasn't using common sense in my life style choices.
I want to share with you five tips I use for myself and recommend to my clients for feeling great at any age. These common sense ideas don't take much time and they will help you to have more energy and less pain as you age.
Sit Up Straight
This might seem like a small thing, but your mother was right when she told you to sit up straight. In my opinion the number one cause of muscle imbalances is the way we sit. I estimate that about 50% of all the pain I treat is caused or aggravated by the way a person is sitting. Sitting straight can reduce or eliminate a great amount of your pain.
I know it is very difficult to sit up straight but it becomes very easy if you use a small cushion or lumbar support. Place the cushion in the small of the low back just above the hip bones. Make sure it is thick enough to bring your head back over your shoulders. Do not make it too thick as this will cause some discomfort. This should feel as if you could stay there all day.
This will not only help with your aches and pains but will greatly improve your sitting and standing posture over time. Remember that people who have a bent over posture look old. Sitting or standing up straight always looks 10 years younger.
Drink Enough Water
Everyone knows that they should drink more water but unless they have compelling reasons very few people will drink enough for optimal hydration. If you are not drinking enough water you can expect your muscles to ache more, your joints to ache more, your memory to have lapses and oh yes, more wrinkles in the skin. All of those symptoms are associated with aging. Most older people who come to me for treatment tell me that they don't drink very much water. When people start to drink 6-8 glasses of water daily they usually start to see improvement in few months.
When you stop moving that is when you start to look and feel old. Exercise increases the heart rate which in turn can then pump blood and oxygen to your brain and tissues. Muscles and soft tissue that have good circulation and hence more oxygen ache less than tissue and muscle that is low in oxygen. Exercise will also help you to keep your muscles strong and help prevent loss of muscle size.
As for brain function one study showed that people who did moderate exercise at least 2 hours per week had better short and long term memory than those who exercised less.
Nothing fancy is required here. 20 - 30 minutes a day of moderate walking will make you fell better and improve your memory.
Stretching the right muscles can help correct your life time of muscle imbalances making you look straighter and younger and as a result have less pain. I recommend these 3 stretches be done a few times every day.
Stretch your chest.
Consistent stretching of the chest will open up that area and bring your head back over your shoulders so you have better posture. Try this stretch twice a day:
Squeeze shoulder blades together gently. This will stretch the chest muscles and release tension between the shoulder blades. Hold for at least two minutes.
Stretch the front of your thigh.
These muscles are called the quadriceps. This stretch will help to bring your pelvis back into alignment which can help with low back pain. Try this stretch twice a day:
Hold on to the back of a chair to help keep your balance. Reach back with one hand and bring the heel towards the butt. Feel the stretch in the front of the upper leg. Hold for 1 minute.
Stretch your neck.
This will help loosen the tight muscles in that area and bring in more blood and oxygen to the area and help with that achy feeling.
Pull your head to one side as if trying to bring your ear to your shoulder. Hold 1 minute and repeat on the other side.
These stretches will help you look and feel better.
Remember these stretches should always be gentle and cause no pain.
Exercise Your Brain
Many older people start to have cognitive decline. However, I have met many seniors who are sharp as a tack. Their secret is simple. They keep their mind active and engaged. Read a book, do a crossword puzzle or research a topic that holds some interest for you. Anything that will keep your mind active will work.
Remember these tips are great and will help you as you age but reading them will not help. You actually have to make them a habit in your life. A little effort will pay big dividends.
Here's to healthy aging!
How You Can Prevent Osteoporosis
by Lee Albert, NMT
Osteoporosis can be a devastating disease, but the good news is that it's preventable. In my practice as a Neuromuscular therapist, I see many clients who have been diagnosed with this condition. With a little bit of knowledge and a little bit of work I believe that osteoporosis can be prevented and sometimes even reversed.
Here are my recommendations for minimizing the impact of this common medical condition.
Osteoporosis is a common condition that affects over 40 million people in the U.S. It means your bones are becoming more brittle and less dense. In my opinion osteoporosis is a wasting disease. If you were ever in a hospital bed for an extended period of time you would clearly see your muscles starting to atrophy and becoming smaller. They are wasting away. The same thing is happening to your bones except you can't see it. They are started to atrophy and becoming more brittle.
Osteoporosis is often called a silent disease because there are often no symptoms that one experiences. To determine if you have osteoporosis see your doctor. There are tests to determine if you have this disease.
Research has shown that weight bearing exercise can prevent and even reverse osteoporosis. Yes, getting enough minerals and vitamins like calcium, magnesium and vitamin D are important, but without the exercise component I believe they are marginally effective.
The exercise does not need to be anything fancy. Brisk walking 20-30 minutes a day will be a big help. A mini trampoline also known as a rebounder is very effective.
It is the jarring motion when you are walking or jumping that sends the signal to the bones to become stronger.
Gardeners who start their seeds indoors know that when the seeds start to sprout they should put them in front of a fan. If they don't, the stems get very weak and cannot hold up the plant. When the plant sways in the breeze from the fan it is getting the signal to grow the stems stronger.
Like wise our bones need a signal to get stronger. It is the same signal the muscles need to get stronger - exercise.
Before starting any exercise program, please check with your health care provider to make sure it is safe to do so.
Many clients who come to see me have their shoulders rounded and their head is protruding forward. This is not because they are aging, it is because they have practiced this posture their whole life. The biggest culprit is sitting. When sitting in a chair most people let their lower back round out thus pushing their head and shoulders forward. After 50 years of practicing this sitting posture they have shaped their bodies to this abnormal position. This crooked posture is not good for bone health either.
To help correct this I recommend three practices.
First - whenever you are going to sit for a long time you should use a small cushion roles up in the small curve in your lower back to help reintroduce the natural curve and to bring you head back over your shoulders. I have a short, free video on the home page of my website that shows you how to accomplish this. In addition to being good for your bones it will also take the strain off your back and neck muscles.
Second - practice the "rowing exercise".
Stand up straight with your arms hanging normally at your side. Raise both arms straight out in front of you so the arms are parallel to the ground. Pretend you are holding two oars in your hands. Pull your elbows backwards and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Keep your shoulder blades squeezed together for about 2 seconds. Bring your arms back out in front of you parallel to the ground again to the starting position. Do 10 of these rowing motions 3 times a day. This will strengthen the muscles between your shoulder blades and help give you better posture which will help both your bones and your muscles.
Third - get up and move as much as possible.
Movement helps the bones get stronger. Sitting has been described as the new smoking as far as your health is concerned. Excessive sitting is a major factor in osteoporosis and many other conditions in the body.
What is Integrated Positional Therapy (IPT)
...and how does it work?
IPT skillfully combines the application of two well-established and clinically recognized osteopathic treatment approaches, Strain-Counterstrain (SCS) and Muscle Energy Technique (MET), specifically developed to address chronic and acute neuromuscular pain, and improve muscular-skeletal function and range.
This comprehensive program of recovery from neuromuscular pain, both chronic and acute is a form of manual medicine that addresses both the symptom and the root cause for long lasting relief. It is safe and effective and causes no pain during treatment. It is easy to perform on your self.
There are 3 components to IPT that are essential for success with this program.