I’ve moved my blog

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I have migrated this blog to my website, www.ATouchofWellness.com .  You can find it by clicking here..  To ensure you continue to get new posts from me, please take a moment to fill in your information on the right side of the page in that blog, even if you have subscribed in the past.

Many thanks.  I’d love to hear from you any thoughts you have about my posts.  Your ideas, opinions and interests are important in my choice of topics.

Brenda Armstrong

Press the Pain

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OuchPain and pressure signals travel along the same nerve pathways, but only one can dominate the road.  This is why when we bang an arm against something that hurts, we instinctively grab the arm and hold it tight to make the pain go away.

Next time you want to massage a friend’s sore neck and shoulders, instead of moving rapidly over the whole area making her wince, grasp a small section of muscle just strong enough to be on the edge of pain and simply hold it steady for up to 15 seconds. As the pain eases, move along in this manner, working small sections of muscle.

This is more effective, less work, and your friend is more likely to gratefully reciprocate.

 

Aside

Seasonal Stress Stoppers

When did stressing out over the Festive Season become noble?  That worn-out, frazzled can’t-get-everything-done feeling was never meant to be part of this spiritual and loving time of year.  Let’s get back to caring for ourselves as well as others.  Remember, you are just as worthy.  Here are a few ideas.

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  • Take a small container of your nutritional supplements with you if you are eating out.  Pharmacies and whole food stores sell daily and weekly pill boxes.
  • Eat and drink in moderation.  Avoid getting bloated or intoxicated.
  • Drink lots of water.
  • Keep to your usual exercise routine as much as possible.
  • Don’t short-change yourself on sleep on those nights you are not partying.
  • Quell anxiety with full, slow, long breaths.
  • Ask ‘How important will (this) be six months from now?’
  • Other people’s expectations belong to them. Do you really have to meet them?
  • If you’re entertaining at home, get help:
    • Make a list of all the ingredients you need and buy non-perishable food in advance.
    • Prepare and freeze sauces and side dishes in advance.
    • Ask guests to contribute to the meal.
    • Delegate
      • Setting the table
      • Serving if it’s a sit-down meal
      • Cleaning up
  • Organize a group gift exchange instead of buying for everyone.
  • Remember the reason for the season: it’s all about caring, and caring takes many forms.

Seasonal Stress Stoppers

On the Ball – Rolling Out Back Pain

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For those nagging, and sometimes breath-stealing, back pains you just can’t get your hands on.Back pain

This simple, self-care method is for back pains that are muscular in nature:  you know you’ve tweaked muscles the wrong way, made them do too much or they’re just screaming about being stuck in the same position day in, day out on the job.  Be sure not to apply pressure to bone joints, as they might be misaligned, degenerated or in some small way damaged, without your knowing.

What to Use

The tool to use is the golden retriever’s best friend: the tennis ball.

Before you start, be aware that lying on a hard floor provides the strongest pressure so you might wish to begin with lying on a bed if your pain is severe or you’re not too sure about this whole thing.  I like to take small steps when trying something new so do whatever is most comfortable for you.  The tennis ball provides good resistance, yet has enough ‘give’ to not torture you while the tissues are taking their time about letting go, and the surface of the bed will soften it further.

If there is a position in which you can lie down that relieves the pain to any degree, adopt that position. You want to be able to lie here without holding yourself tense.

What to Do

1. Breathe. Take three full, deep, slow breaths in, and whoosh them out, settling down to an easy, steady breathing rhythm. Now, take the tennis ball in your hand and get ready to start at the periphery of your pain.

2. Place the tennis ball under your back in a place that does not hurt, close to where it does hurt.  Rest on it. Get a sense of how it feels to sink down on top of the ball pain-free. Take as many minutes as you need throughout this whole process. Each step can take one to five minutes.

3. When the first spot it comfortable, gradually explore and move the ball in small steps toward the pain, stopping and resting your body weight on the ball as you come across tender or tight areas until you begin to connect with the primary pain zone, then back off a little. Leave the ball in place.

5. Breathe.  Rest.

6. Let yourself sink down onto the ball till it becomes comfortable.

7. Maintaining your breathing and keeping your whole body relaxed as much as possible, slowly inch the tennis ball closer again toward the painful area until you reach the edge of it.  Do not rush. Stop here.

8. Rest your body weight again on the ball until it no longer hurts and your body feels at ease.

9. Continue, slowly and carefully in this manner around and toward the core of the pain.

You’ll likely find that the core is a very small area now pinpointed.  It might take several minutes to alleviate once you are on that point. A few short sessions of doing this might be needed to begin to make a significant difference.  Each of us is unique but most of us respond to this simple technique so I encourage you to stay with it, go slow, deepen your breathing and do not hold your body up off the ball.

If it is too painful to sink into, you’ve moved too quickly to that spot.  So back off, move outward a little again and repeat the process.

How it Works

The moving toward, away from and around the pain is softening the surrounding tissues and releasing the ripple effect of the initiating spasm.  Allow time for response to happen.  Facilitating change in the body is not like pressing a button or keypad.  The results are seldom instant, although sometimes quick.  The connective tissues, like tendons and sheaths, need time to soften and lengthen, nerves need to calm down and muscle fibers need to respond to the shifting inner environment.

Focus on easing, slowing and deepening your breathing.  The extra helping of oxygen will assist the process on a cellular level, and the physical movement of the ribs in and out will gently mobilize the spine and associated muscles.  Be patient with your poor body for it is doing its best to support you and cannot be rushed.  We do have the innate capacity to re-balance ourselves if we allow it.

The 15 or 25 minutes it might take to provide your own pain relief is surely worth the investment if it will eliminate the need for an emergency visit to your massage therapist or chiropractor.

What Happened?

Once your pain has subsided, consider what might have caused it.  Did an identifiable event take place or is this perhaps an accumulation of poor postural habits?  Are you exerting the right balance of stress-relief activities in your daily life?  Would some outside help support you in making the small changes that would prevent such pain in the future and indeed enhance your overall health and well-being?

The cost of corrective healthcare reaches deeply into our pockets as well as our souls.  Yet, the old adage, that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, is as true today as when it was first spoken.  We can all use a little help from time to time and sometimes that’s all we need to re-balance and move forward with energy and vitality.

Try to get the support you need before another crisis hits your back. Of course, I’m always available to keep your body balanced, help you recover from such episodes and work with you to help you take care of yourself. The most important thing when dealing with back pain is that you can take charge of it.

(Note:  the information provided in this article is educational in nature and is not intended to substitute for medical examination and treatment.  If you have an ongoing condition that is not improving, seek medical attention.)